News Division Files: Secretary of State’s Press Conferences

Memorandum of the Secretary of State’s Press and Radio News Conference, Wednesday, April 5, 19501

No. 12


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Maintenance of United States Diplomatic Staffs in Eastern Europe

A correspondent asked what the policy of the United States Government was toward the maintenance of diplomatic staffs in the Eastern European countries. Mr. Acheson replied that our policy, of course, was to maintain staffs in countries with which we had diplomatic relations. He said that so far as those particular countries were concerned, it had been increasingly difficult for the staffs to operate.2 He continued that it had not seemed to us that those countries really [Page 14] wished to maintain relations on what we would regard as a sound and helpful basis. He said that, therefore, it seemed to us that what we probably should do was to reduce our staffs in those countries. He explained that they weren’t performing any useful function, adding that until they could, they ought to be reduced in size, so that we were considering doing that.

A correspondent asked if the Secretary could go into any more detail. He said that Mr. Acheson might be familiar with a story printed this morning that by June 1 our staffs in those countries would be reduced by 50 percent from March. The correspondent asked if that were correct or what our decision in that matter was. The Secretary answered that he did not know whether it was correct or incorrect. He said that he was not informed of the fact that any date had been set for any reduction or that any particular flat amounts had been decided upon. He continued that what we had been doing was examining the situation in each one of the countries and seeing what the staffs could usefully do and how many people were required to do what they could do—in other words, what they were permitted to do. He said that in the light of that, we were attempting to reach some conclusions about the size. The Secretary said it might be that some date had been set, but that if so, he did not know about it.

Asked if he thought the Russians were planning to force us out of all the satellite countries, Mr. Acheson remarked that it did not look as though they were trying to encourage us to expand our activities, no. He said he did not know whether they would force us out or whether they wished to make us very unhappy.

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  1. This memorandum was prepared by Michael J. McDermott, Special Assistant to the Secretary of State (Press Relations).
  2. Documentation on the restrictions imposed upon United States Diplomatic Missions in Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland, and Romania are included elsewhere in this volume in those sections dealing with U.S. bilateral relations with those particular countries.