OPINION

June 19, 1959

COLD WAR: London – East-West relations entered a new crucial phase today as Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev rejected the West’s proposals for Berlin, setting a deadline of 30 months for the West to quit the city. He threatened that he would sign a separate peace treaty with East Germany if the Western powers did not accept the existence of two Germanies and if West Germany did not agree to negotiate a treaty on that basis. He warned the West that if they tried to maintain their occupation (of Berlin), the Soviet Union would support East Germany. Khrushchev’s statement was seen as a coup de grace for the Geneva summit between the USA, the USSR, Britain and France. Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko reiterated Khrushchev’s words to his Western counterparts and submitted a proposal. Under the circumstances, the West decided to postpone the summit until July 13 in the hope that, in the meantime, these views might be reconsidered. Following these dramatic developments, British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan brought forward his departure for Washington for a meeting with the US and French presidents.