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Sixty years since the historic Kennedy-Khrushchev meeting in Vienna

Exactly sixty years ago like today, humanity turned its eyes to Vienna, where on June 3 and 4, 1961, the first in the history of the two superpowers, the United States of America and the United States, took place. Soviet Union, Summit of their leaders, the then American president John F. Kennedy and the then leader of the USSR party and state, Nikita Khrushchev.

It was the first and last personal meeting of the two most powerful politicians in the world at the time, as Kennedy was assassinated almost two and a half years later, in November 1963, and Khrushchev was ousted the following year.

Vienna was then the premiere of bilateral Cold War summits, as in the meantime the other two victorious allies of World War II, France and Britain, no longer played a realistically important role, which they had claim and detach as leaders of the two East-West camps, the Warsaw Pact on the one hand and NATO on the other, the USSR and the US respectively.

The two leaders had arrived in Vienna, which had been favored by Austria’s permanent neutrality regime – which is still guarded by its citizens – in different ways.

By air John F. Kennedy, accompanied by his wife Jackie, who was collecting the lenses of the international photojournalists of the time, by train and after a four-day journey from Moscow with stops in Kiev and Bratislava to Hick Nina Krutseva.

Summit 11 years after Austria’s independence

The Vienna Summit took place eleven years after the Austrian Independence Treaty (signed in Moscow on May 15, 1955) and the withdrawal of the troops of the four Allied Powers (US, USSR, France, Britain) from its territory.

The Austrian side – after choosing Vienna as a meeting place – had only two weeks to prepare for this first, world-class event of its kind.

In Vienna, on June 3 and 4, 1961, and in a total of four direct conversations, at the residence of the American ambassador and the building of the Soviet embassy – with their themes on the neutralization of Laos, the cessation of nuclear tests and the Berlin issue. – two completely different worlds met, ideological systems, personalities and generations.

The young man, 44-year-old John F. Kennedy, had been sworn in as the 35th president of the United States just a few months earlier, in January 1961, and was considered the hope for his country’s future, but had already suffered a first “defeat” with the failed US landing. in the Gulf of Pigs in Cuba for the overthrow of Fidel Castro in April 1961.

On the other hand, Khrushchev was then at the height of his power in the Kremlin, after a few years earlier, in the battle for succession, after the death of Joseph Stalin in 1953, he had defeated his opponents, while still fresh in Vienna, Soviet “triumph” with the first manned space flight with the historic Yuri Gagarin space mission on April 12 of that year.

This two-day, crucial, first Summit of the two superpowers in Vienna, which we now know took place with all the means of psychological warfare between the two sides (and which was covered by more than 1,300 journalists envoys from all over the world Media ), did not ultimately bring about their coveted approach.

On the contrary, what followed were two global crises, as two months later, in August 1961, Khrushchev gave his consent to the construction of the Berlin Wall, and in October 1962, the Soviets intended to install nuclear firearms in , brought humanity to the brink of a nuclear war.

However, the actual failure of the Vienna Summit did not have the same negative effects on the Austrian capital, as it was established in the following years as a venue for international meetings – apart from the second Summit of the two superpowers with Presidents Jimmy Carter and Leonid Brezhnev. in July 1979 – particularly fond of the Soviets.

Later, in 1980, thanks to its historic Chancellor Bruno Krajski, Vienna was established as the third seat of the United Nations with many of its organizations, hosting to this day, dozens of summits and international conferences.

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