No. 10
Memorandum of Conversation, by the Ambassador to Czechoslovakia (Briggs)



  • Ambassador Briggs’ call on President Truman


  • President Truman
  • Ambassador Ellis O. Briggs

At the White House, following my call on the President, and with his consent, I made the following statement in response to inquiries by correspondents:

I said that the President and I had discussed Czechoslovak/U.S. relations in general, including the Oatis case. The President expressed his continuing concern for Mr. Oatis’ welfare and declared that as long as Oatis remains in prison it will be impossible to have satisfactory relations with Czechoslovakia. The President also expressed interest in the welfare of Jan Hvasta, a young American citizen and war veteran who was tried in Czechoslovakia on an espionage charge in 1948 and has been in prison since then.

Having conveyed the foregoing to correspondents in the White House lobby, I repeated it in substance for television outside.

During approximately fifteen minutes with the President he asked numerous questions concerning conditions in Czechoslovakia, the state of public feeling, difficulties of operating our Mission, et cetera. I also took occasion to outline the proposals we have been discussing in the Department and which are now pending clearance for use in Prague on my return.1

  1. Reference is to a refinement of the second alternative suggested in telegram 821 from Praha, supra. The two draft agreements suggested by Briggs were finalized during conversations between Treasury Secretary Snyder and Secretary Acheson. They were transmitted to Praha, where Briggs had returned, in telegram 506, June 28. (249.1111 Oatis, William N./5–2652) Briggs presented the proposals to Široký on July 1, according to telegram 5 from Praha, July 2. (249.1111 Oatis, William N./7–252)