82. Memorandum From the President’s Deputy Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bator) to President Johnson1

Mr. President:

The Secretary of State plans to speak to you about the Russian exchange negotiations. He feels very strongly that we should let Leddy initial tomorrow.2

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Unfortunately, the “Hello, Dolly”3 company which was all set to go to Moscow last year has broken up. (Mary Martin4 is in the current London production, with a predominantly British company.)

Subject to our going ahead with the agreement the Russians have signed contracts to receive the Iowa State Symphony,5 the Earl Hines Jazz Band, the New England Conservatory Chorus and the Boston Symphony Chamber Players. In addition, we are negotiating for the American Ballet Company and the Los Angeles Symphony. Dean Rusk’s memorandum of yesterday reporting on this, and my cover note are at Tab A. (I have been standing by to see you but I understand from Marvin6 you have had a rough day.)

Rusk’s earlier memo reporting on negotiating position is at Tab B.7

Francis M. Bator8

Tab A

Covering Note From the President’s Deputy Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bator) to President Johnson9

Mr. President:

Leddy has what appears to be a reasonable “exchange agreement” deal with the Russians.

As the attached memorandum from Dean Rusk reports, the Russians have specifically agreed to new, much tougher language which puts them on notice that they cannot get away with another “Hello Dolly” without retaliation on our part. (They have tried to make amends for “Hello Dolly” by agreeing to receive the Iowa State Symphony.)

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All of your advisors are agreed that renewal of this tougher agreement is a net gain for us.

May I tell John Leddy that he can go ahead and initial? State would like to do so on Wednesday, March 16, so that the Russians can go home.

Francis M. Bator10

Go ahead

Speak to me11



Memorandum From Secretary of State Rusk to President Johnson13


  • New Exchanges Agreement with Soviet Union

We have now completed negotiations and are prepared to sign on March 16 a new two-year exchanges agreement with the Soviet Union.

The new agreement provides for a balanced program of exchanges generally comparable in scope and size to the previous program. The agreement also preserves the provisions which keep the program under United States Government direction.

In addition, we successfully introduced new language regarding the appearance of performing arts groups in order to prevent any repetition of the “Hello, Dolly!” situation. Henceforth, if the Soviets fail to receive an agreed American group, we now have a clearly understood basis for refusing their groups. The Soviets are also signing today a contract to receive the Iowa State Symphony Band to make up for their failure to receive “Hello, Dolly!”. Thus, when we sign the over- [Page 237] all agreement on Wednesday, the way will be clear for the Bolshoi Ballet14 to come to the United States on April 19.

After prolonged resistance, the Soviets finally accepted an exchange of two exhibits. The previous agreement had provided for an exchange of three exhibits, but in practice the Soviets refused to approve more than two, since American exhibits are politically troublesome for them.

We made clear to the Soviets our concern over obtaining adequate arrangements for distribution of Amerika15 magazine in the U.S.S.R. They in turn indicated that our distribution would be improved if circulation of their magazine Soviet Life16 increases in the United States.

The Soviet decision to negotiate the agreement, after months of stalling, and Soviet willingness to receive American attractions beginning next month (after refusing to do so since last September on the grounds of Viet-Nam) indicate a Soviet desire not only to keep the exchanges program alive, but also to avoid further deterioration in U.S.–U.S.S.R. relations.

The Soviets have indicated that they wish a minimum of publicity on the agreement. Obviously they are sensitive to Peiping’s charges of Soviet-American collaboration. For our part, we see no reason to play up the agreement.17

Dean Rusk
  1. Source: Johnson Library, Office Files of the White House Aides, Office Files of Harry McPherson, Box 6, CU (Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs) 1966. No classification marking. An unknown hand wrote “March 15, 8:09 P.M.” in the top right-hand corner of the memorandum.
  2. Leddy and Dobrynin signed the new exchange agreement on March 19. For the full text of the United States-Soviet Cultural Exchange Agreement, for the Years 1966 and 1967, see American Foreign Policy: Current Documents, 1966, pp. 461–476.
  3. Popular American musical play originally produced in 1964. In 1965, the Soviet Union cancelled an American production of Hello Dolly that was to be staged in Moscow as part of a United States exchange program agreement with the Soviet Union. For additional information regarding the cancellation, see Foreign Relations, 1964–1968, vol. XIV, Soviet Union, Documents 125, 136, and 137.
  4. Popular American stage and film actor.
  5. Reference is to the Iowa State University symphony.
  6. Reference is to Marvin Watson.
  7. An unknown hand, presumably that of Bator, inserted the world “our” between “on negotiating” and crossed out the entire sentence. No Tab B was found attached.
  8. Bator initialed “FMB” above this typed signature.
  9. No classification marking.
  10. Bator initialed “FB” above this typed signature.
  11. The President placed a checkmark on the line that reads “Speak to me.” Next to it, he wrote: “Why not send Hello Dolly back as #1 visit—L.”
  12. An unknown hand added this handwritten “No” line.
  13. Confidential. Also printed as Document 154 in Foreign Relations, 1964–1968, vol. XIV, Soviet Union.
  14. Famous Russian ballet company founded in 1776.
  15. Reference is to a Russian-language USIA publication distributed in the Soviet Union.
  16. Reference is to an English-language Soviet Government publication distributed in the United States.
  17. An unknown hand drew two pairs of parallel lines in both the left- and right-hand margins of this paragraph.