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Kennedy Cautious on Soviet Proposal to Combine Space Efforts

Feb. 21, 1962 - President Kennedy wrote Soviet Premier Khrushchev today that he hoped representatives of their two Governments could meet “at a very early date” to discuss cooperative space projects. He made the proposal in a reply to a letter from Mr. Khrushchev received in Washington today. The Soviet Premier congratulated the U.S. on the orbital flight of Lieut. Col. John H. Glenn Jr. and called for cooperation on further space activities. At his news conference today, Mr. Kennedy termed Mr. Khrushchev’s proposals “most encouraging.” He told Mr. Khrushchev the U.S. would “prepare new and concrete proposals for immediate projects of common action.” Such a meeting, he told Mr. Khrushchev in a note released by the White House, should be conducted in “a spirit of practical cooperation.” “Obviously,” the President said, “special opportunities and responsibilities fall to our two countries.” Mr. Kennedy opened his news conference, his sixth in six weeks, with a statement in which he said, “we believe that when men reach beyond this planet, they should leave their national differences behind them.” Mr. Kennedy cautioned that so far there had been little concrete evidence of Soviet willingness to cooperate in space. Thus, the President said, it would be wise to wait “until we see whether the rain follows the warm winds in this case.” He sent his associate press secretary, Andrew T. Hatcher, to find out what information the Soviet had given the U.S. after the successful orbital flights of their astronauts, Majors Yuri A. Gagarin and Gherman S. Titov. “Only medical information,” the President said, when Mr. Hatcher returned with a note. “There was no technical information."

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