Mr. Gordon Robertson, Deputy Minister of Northern Affairs and National Resources, accompanied by Mr. R.A.J. Phillips, met with the Under-Secretary of State for External Affairs to discuss our policy respecting exchanges with the Soviet Union and, specifically, to consider what might be done to overcome Soviet opposition to the Canadian proposal for an official exchange in northern affairs. Mr. Cadieux, Mr. Ritchie, Mr. Davis and Mr. Branscombe of this Department also attended.
It was the consensus of the meeting that under our present visits policy the Soviet authorities enjoy the advantage of initiating exchanges of interest to them by approaching private Canadian groups and individuals direct while, at the same time, they refuse to entertain Canadian proposals for official exchanges in fields of interest to Canada. On balance, Canada is not obtaining reciprocity in exchanges with the Soviet Union.
It was agreed that action was now required to redress the balance in our exchange programme. As a first step, it was suggested that the Soviet Ambassador should be informed about our concern over the present imbalance in our exchange programme and that he should be asked whether there had been any change in his Government’s position respecting our proposal for an exchange in Arctic affairs, having in mind Mr. Khrushchev’s statement in Washington last September in favour of exchanges of information on the Arctic.10 Should the Ambassador refer to his statement in Hamilton, as reported in the Globe and Mail of October 21, 1959, he could be told of the interpretation of it given in Moscow, i.e. “that it expressed the official (Soviet) opinion on Mr. Diefenbaker’s suggestion on Arctic inspection in the disarmament context” (Numbered Letter 1327 of December 3, 1959, from Canadian Embassy, Moscow.)†
Mr. Robertson mentioned that Mr. Alvin Hamilton would be willing to lead a delegation of Canadian Arctic specialists to the Soviet Union. It was suggested that the Soviet Ambassador should be informed of the Minister’s interest in such an exchange and that, if a satisfactory SovietÚtÚnerary could be worked out, it was probable that Mr. Hamilton would head the Canadian group. This proposal, it was noted, would go some way to meet recent Soviet suggestions that there should be official visits at ministerial level between the two countries.
The Under-Secretary indicated that he would speak to the Soviet Ambassador along the above lines. It was also agreed that, if the Soviet authorities continued to oppose our proposal for an exchange in northern affairs, it could have an effect on the Government’s attitude toward a possible cultural agreement which would have for one of its objects to bring about the necessary balance in exchanges with the Soviet Union.11
10Voir/See “Text of Answers by Premier Khrushchev,” Globe and Mail, September 17, 1959, p. 10; “Hands Across the Arctic?”, Globe and Mail, September 18, 1959, p. 6.
11Note marginale :/Marginal note:
Noted. N.A. R[obertson] 11.2.60.