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On This Day

spacer This event took place on May 1, 1960, and was reported in The New York Times on May 6, 1960.

Read the full text of The Times article or other headlines from the day.


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Soviet Downs American Plane; U.S. Says It Was Weather Craft; Khrushchev Sees Summit Blow

Premier is Bitter
Assails 'Provocation Aimed at Wrecking' May 16 Parley
By Osgood Caruthers
Special to The New York Times


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oscow, May 5 -- Premier Khrushchev said today that a United States plane on a mission of "aggressive provocation aimed at wrecking the summit conference" invaded Soviet territory May 1 and was shot down.

The Premier, in the most blistering speech against American policies he had made since his meetings with President Eisenhower last autumn, declared that the incursion, as well as declarations by United States policy makers, cast gloom on the prospects for the success of the summit meeting in Paris eleven days hence.

He expressed anger over the fact that President Eisenhower had supported declarations against Soviet foreign policies by Vice President Richard M. Nixon, Secretary of State Christian A. Herter, Under Secretary of State Douglas Dillon and others.

He Seems to Bar Nixon

He surmised, Mr. Khrushchev said, that General Eisenhower, while wanting peace was a victim of tight restrictions by "imperialists and militarists" around him.

Mr. Khrushchev expressed regret that the President wanted to limit the summit meeting to one week and he virtually rejected a proposal to sit at the table with Mr. Nixon if the Vice President was delegated to take over for General Eisenhower in case the session went over the time limit.

The most sensational section of Mr. Khrushchev's three-and-a-half hour speech, made before the opening session of the Supreme Soviet, the nation's version of a parliament, was that concerning the charges of United States violations of Soviet airspace.

Foreign Policy to Fore

Mr. Khrushchev actually had been called upon to open the Supreme Soviet session to deal exclusively with sweeping new domestic policies that will affect every Soviet worker: gradual abolition of income taxes by 1965 and by next year, reduction of the work day to seven hours and an upward revaluation of the ruble.

However, the Soviet leader seized the occasion to discuss foreign policy and the summit conference. He apparently had determined to tell the Soviet people that recent Western actions and statements had darkened his previous optimism.

The Premier predicted to foreign diplomats earlier this week that his talk on foreign and domestic policies would contain major surprises. Indeed, his report of the plane incident came as a shock to Westerners and Soviet citizens alike. The United States Ambassador, Llewellyn E. Thompson Jr., would make no comment on the development.

Mr. Khrushchev declared that actually there had been two incidents involving intrusions by United States military planes during the last month.

One plane, he said, flew from the direction of Afghanistan and was permitted to leave without military action or subsequent diplomatic protest.

On May Day morning, he said with emotion, "when our people were celebrating their most beloved holiday," another plane crossed the southern borders and, on quickly delivered orders from the highest authority in Moscow, was shot down.

The Premier gave no details as to the type of plane, which was said to bear no markings, or the fate of the crew.

[The United States said the plane was a U-2 carrying a crew of one.]

He declared that it was presumed by the Kremlin that both planes had been based in either Turkey, Iran or Pakistan "which are linked with the United States in the aggressive" Central Treaty Organization.

Mr. Khrushchev said the Soviet Union intended not only to protest to the United States over the second incident but also to take the matter before the United Nations Security Council. His Government also will extend "serious warnings" to countries that permit the American planes to be based on their territory, he added.

These heated disclosures raised an explosive outcry of "bandits," "aggressors" and other angry expletives among the more than 1,360 deputies gathered from all over the Soviet Union to give quick and unanimous approval to Mr. Khushchev's policies.

Foreign observers in the huge white hall of the Grand Kremlin Palace got the impression that these were expressions of genuine surprise and consternation.

Even before his address Mr. Khrushchev had let it be known that he was upset and in fact angered by a series of recent policy declarations from the United States and the North Atlantic alliance regarding the Western refusal to budge from the status quo on the German question.

It was his contention that his agreement with President Eisenhower during his meeting at Camp David last September had provided that on the question of Germany and West Berlin there would be no ultimatums but also no stalling on efforts to come to at least an interim agreement.

He spoke once again about a speech by Mr. Dillon, as he had last week in a surprisingly tough speech at the oil center of Baku, in Azerbaijan. Mr. Dillon's assertion that Mr. Khrushchev was walking on thin ice on the German issue particularly irked the Premier. His retort was:

"If one should speak of thin ice at all, then look, Mr. Dillon, what are you standing on? Your policy rests in large measure on the support of colonialism, the enslavement and the plundering of backward peoples and economically dependent countries."

Later Premier Khrushchev declared that recent statements by Messrs. Herter, Nixon and Dillon were "a bad sign."

"They are far from giving hope for a favorable conclusion of negotiations that open on May 16," he continued.

"Unfortunately, these speeches have been approved by the president of the United States himself, who stated at a press conference that they had set out the foreign policy of the United States Government. This makes things still worse."

Letter From Eisenhower

Mr. Khrushchev said he had received a letter from President Eisenhower in which the President had said he could stay in Paris only until May 23 and then would have to return home after a stop in Lisbon, Portugal.

The President also informed him, he said, that if the summit conference went beyond this date Vice President Nixon would be delegated to sit in for the United States.

"The intention of the United States President is to be regretted," Mr. Khrushchev asserted.

He said he had replied that the duration of the conference should be decided by all four participants after they had seen how the meeting was developing. He said it was his belief that there was no more important business at hand.

"And if a statesman intends to limit his attendance at the conference [text unreadable] this shows that the questions which are to be discussed at the summit meeting evidently are not given due attention by the United Sates Government.

"I do not doubt President Eisenhower's sincere desire for peace. But though the President is the highest authority in the United States, there are evidently circles which restrict him."

As far as sitting down with Mr. Nixon was concerned, Mr. Khrushchev said he had already met the Vice President on several occasions. The Premier added:

"I find it difficult to get rid of the impression that Mr. Nixon bothers about anything, but least of all about reaching agreement on disputes, liquidating the state of tension, ending the cold war and the arms race. May Mr. Nixon pardon me for my frankness, but I told him this when we met and I hope that he will not condemn me for stating this now in our Parliament.

"I am afraid that if Mr. Nixon is instructed to hold these negotiations, a situation might arise resembling the one of which the people: 'To leave the cabbage to the care of the goat.'"

Mr. Khrushchev said that recent negotiations in Geneva on disarmament and the banning of tests of nuclear weapons had not produced signs of a Western intention to come to agreement on these vital issues.

"Comrade Deputies," Mr. Khrushchev declared, reading form a prepared speech, in an emotion-laden voice, "the impression is being formed that the aggressive actions newly taken by the United States against the Soviet Union are a foretaste of the summit meeting.

"Are they taken in order to exert pressure on us and to attempt to frighten us with their military superiority in order to undermine our determination to work for easing tension, to eliminate the cold war and to put an end to the arms race?

"All these missions are sent in order to prevent any agreement on vexing questions, for we cannot say that this aircraft was a harbinger of peace; that it was on a good will mission. No, it was a real bandit flight with aggressive intentions.

"We can say to those gentlemen who sent the aircraft that if they think they can bend our knees and our backs, by means of such pressure, this will have no effect on us."

The Premier expressed gratitude to the military unit that had fulfilled the task of "securing the borders of our country with honor" by shooting down the plane on May Day. This gave him the opportunity to repeat a threat, that the Soviet Union would retaliate with its new rocket force against any attack and that foreign bases from which such an attack was launched would also be destroyed.

Nevertheless, Mr. Khrushchev urged against an emotional reaction to his disclosures and said he still planned to go to the summit meeting "with pure heart" and with the full intention to seek agreement with the West. He said he did not consider the intrusion as reconnaissance in prelude to war.

The Premier added that he believed the American people, "except for certain imperialist, monopolist circles," wanted peace and friendship with the Soviet Union.


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