124.493/5–250: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Embassy in the United Kingdom 1


2025. Emb Praha recd note Apr 28 fm Czech FonOff2 asking our mission Czech reduce staff by two-thirds in all categories on grounds numerous US Reps engage in espionage and hostile activity against security Czech state, excessive number US official personnel unjustified, disproportionately large number and activities US personnel aggravate US-Czech relations.

Our present thinking on possible reply fm Amb Briggs is along fol lines:

With ref to question reducing number personnel included in representation US in Czech, I am instructed by my Govt inform MinFon Afrs US Govt cannot accept demands Czech Govt and rejects categorically grounds on which Min asked US dipl and con establishments in Czech reduce their staffs. US Govt is aware no right of a receiving state to determine composition dipl mission of another state and can only consider demand Min involving official personnel previously accepted by Czech Govt as unjustifiably disregarding internatl usage.

It is recognized Czech Govt unwilling or unable maintain relations with US Govt in accordance with normal standards dipl relations. US Govt has given extended consideration for some time past to restrictions placed upon functions US dipl mission which have made it impossible to conduct normal relations with the Czech Govt. US Govt decided several months ago adjust staff US establishments in Czech to these prevailing conditions. US Govt has been engaged in progressive reduction official personnel in its representation, both civilian and military. Attention Czech Govt is called these efforts particularly in re steps recently taken reduce Service Attaché staffs, of which Min must be aware.

Remainder our response might fol one of three alternatives below:

US Govt will proceed with implementation these plans already in progress. It is obliged, however review further entire range operations of Czech establishments in US in light narrowing field of relations between two Govts arising fm restrictive actions Czech auths. It is believed, in virtue this further condsideration matter, reduced scope those relations no longer requires maintenance remaining Czech consular establishments in US. US Govt therefore requests Czech Govt to close its Consulates in Cleveland and Pittsburgh and its Consulate General in New York at convenient date.
Begin with first sentence alternative 1 and then: If, however, Czech Govt slid, on basis its own views rather than legitimate needs [Page 555] US establishments in Czech, insist on an arbitrary alteration in composition staffs already authorized in those establishments, resulting situation wld undoubtedly have highly prejudicial consequences with respect remaining field relations between US and Czech Govts. (Aim this alternative wld be to alarm Czech Govt in order its possible fear complete break might deter it fm insistence on full compliance with its demand. In presenting note Amb Briggs might intimate orally certain consequences of such insistence including possible effects on Czech representation in US mentioned in alternative 3 below. These stalling tactics might at least delay any further action on part Czechs and allow us proceed with our reduction, thus putting us in better position when Czechs might take up matter again. If Czechs shd finally prove unyielding in insistence on two-third reduction, we wld avoid break but cld react with counter-demand they close their remaining consular establishments here. It is believed this alternative is more in line with suggestions Amb Briggs in Praha’s 623 Apr 29.3)
Begin with first sentence alternative 1 and then: If, however, Czech Govt shd, on basis own views rather than legitimate needs US establishments in Czech, insist on arbitrary alteration in composition staffs already authorized in those establishments, US Govt will be obliged fol principle reciprocity in matter Czech representation to US. (We wld not explain in note exact effect application this principle but let FonOff puzzle over this until it presses us for clarification. We wld interpret principle to mean two-thirds reduction staffs Czech establishments US. Or we might apply it by insistence reductions US establishments Czech be matched on a one-to-one basis by reductions in Czech establishments here. But in view fact present Czech representation in US is less than two-thirds US representation in Czech, rigid adherence to this formula wld, if Czechs insisted on two-thirds reduction by US, cut Czech representation to zero and presumably entail break in dipl relations. US official personnel at Praha and Bratislava numbered 80, as of Apr 1950, including FSO 9, FSS 41, USIS 5, Attaché Staff 25. This number has been reduced or is in process of reduction by 4 USIS and 13 Attaché, leaving 63 fm which civilian staff is being progressively transferred without replacements. Czech personnel in US including custodial and servant categories amounts to 33 plus 31 dependents.

Tripartite meetings now taking place4 offer convenient opportunity for obtaining Brit and Fr views in order we may coordinate policy in this matter in accordance with practice we are seeking to establish. Request Brit and Fr be consulted urgently. Dept believes it inadvisable to summon Amb Briggs here for consultation but if it shd prove helpful Dept prepared to request him come to Lon.

Pass to Jessup and Perkins.5

  1. Repeated to Praha as 321 and to Paris as 1949. This telegram was personally signed by Secretary of State Acheson.
  2. For text, see p. 551.
  3. Supra.
  4. American, British, and French officials held a series of meetings in London, April 24–May 5, in preparation for the forthcoming Tripartite (U.S.–U.K.–French) Foreign Ministers Meetings in London, May 11–13. Documentation on the Foreign Ministers Meetings and preceding preliminary tripartite meetings is presented in vol. iii, pp. 828 ff.
  5. Ambassador at Large Philip C. Jessup and Assistant Secretary of State George W. Perkins were principal members of the American Delegation to the preliminary meetings referred to in footnote 4, above.