President Kennedy Wants No Direct Telephone Line to Khrushchev

July 23, 1962 - President Kennedy said today that he has no interest in trying to improve communications between himself and Premier Khrushchev, but that he would be pleased if the mutual understanding was improved. The matter came up in his news conference. He was asked if he had plans to establish a direct telephone line to Mr. Khrushchev “for use in case of emergency.” “I have not done that, no,” the President replied. “We have communications with the Soviet Union. I think the problem is not, at the present time, communications. The problem is that there is a difference of viewpoint. If we could understand each other, it would be different.” Not even the State Department has a direct communication line to the U.S. Embassy in Moscow. It uses commercial cable and radio for the bulk of its rapid communications and overseas telephone service only rarely. “Anybody can listen in on a telephone conversation,” an official at the Department explained, “but cables can be sent in code.”

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