BOSTON, Oct. 21 (UPI) -- The children of the two world leaders who barely avoided a nuclear war 40 years ago agree President Bush would do well to learn the lessons of the Cuban missile crisis of 1962 before going to war with Iraq.
Caroline Kennedy, the daughter of President John F. Kennedy; and Sergei Khrushchev, the son of Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, met for the first time Sunday to discuss the crisis that Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr. called the "most dangerous moment in human history."
"When our fathers transformed the hours of danger into the beginnings of a process for peace, they did it for us and for all children threatened by a world at war," Kennedy said after meeting with Khrushchev before a forum to mark the 40th anniversary of the crisis at the JFK Library and Museum in Boston.
Khrushchev said if Bush had been president in 1962, "we would have had no chance to discuss the Cuban missile crisis in 2002."
Khrushchev, now a U.S. citizen and a fellow at Brown University, said a mutual desire for peace developed between his father and John Kennedy after the world leaders backed down from the brink of a nuclear exchange in October 1962.
"There was some possibility that if they had stayed in power longer, the Cold War could have ended in the 1960s," Khrushchev said, noting that Kennedy was assassinated in 1963 and his father replaced by Leonid Brezhnev the following year.
If the two had continued in power, Khrushchev said, "There could have been a reformed Soviet Union, maybe with friendly relations with the United States."
The president's daughter showed Khrushchev a signed copy of the 1963 Nuclear Test Ban Treaty that her mother, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, kept as a memento.
The treaty had its beginnings in the 13-day standoff over Soviet nuclear missiles being placed in Cuba, just 90 miles from the United States.
Kennedy opened the forum by urging the participants to "consider what together we can learn and apply to the problems that confront us today."
Taking part in the panel discussion were Khrushchev, former Kennedy advisers Theodore Sorensen and Schlesinger, and Washington-based Cuban diplomat Josefina Vidal.
All were opposed to a pre-emptive strike against Iraq to remove weapons of mass destruction, and said the Bush administration had not learned the lessons of the missile crisis.
Schlesinger said there were advisers then urging Kennedy to carry out a military strike against Cuba to remove the missiles.
"There were people in favor of a preventative war during the Cold War and they were regarded as a bunch of loonies," he said. "Now the loonies have taken over our foreign policy."