Kennedy Meets with Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko
On October 18th the President ordered a build up of arms along the southern border of the United States, just in case war breaks out.
No one suspected anything because training exercises had been previously scheduled for that area. The Soviet foreign minister Gromyko visited the President. Gromyko said that the Soviet aid to Cuba was "solely [for] the purpose of contributing to the defense capabilities of Cuba, and to the development of its peaceful democracy. If it were other wise, the Soviet Government would have never become involved in rendering such assistance." While Gromkyo read this, President Kennedy just sat there, knowing that the incriminating photos wre within arms reach. When Gromyko had finished, Kennedy read part of the statement issued September 4th, which warned the Soviet Union that the "gravest of consequences would follow" if offensive missiles were placed in Cuba.
President Kennedy then departed for a previously planned campaign trip the next day. Deliberations with ExComm continued. However, news reached Moscow that highly public American maneuvers in the Caribbean were in preparation for war with Cuba. While Kennedy was in Chicago, he realized that the time for deliberations was drawing to and end, and decided that he would come down with a slight cold on the following day.
Only last Thursday, as evidence of this rapid offensive buildup was already in my hand, Soviet Foreign Minister Gromyko told me in my office that he was instructed to make it clear once again, as he said his government had already done, that Soviet assistance to Cuba, and I quote, "pursued solely for the purpose of contributing to the defense capabilities of Cuba," that, and I quote him, "training by Soviet specialists of Cuban nationals in handling defensive armaments was by no means offensive, and if it were otherwise," Mr. Gromyko went on, "the Soviet Government would never become involved in rendering such assistance." That statement also was false.”— John F. Kennedy