795.00/8—2852: Telegram

The Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Kennan) to the Department of State


385. For Matthews from Kennan. In proposal submitted Deptel 206, Aug 271 concerning possible presidential statement on Kor armistice, assume Dept has taken into account question of effect on those POW’s not exchanged and that due regard has been given this factor. From all other viewpoints, I consider move excellent one and recommend it be carried out at once, if at all. Seems to me it wld be hard for Sovs to [Page 465] wiggle out of it without letting down Amer Commies badly. It wld be apt to arouse divergent and possibly conflicting reactions in Sov and Chi Commie camps and coming suddenly and unexpectedly in midst of Chi-Sov discussions here, might well have useful effect. Wld consider that Chi-Sov negots must be now at something approaching their most difficult and delicate stage; hence reason for promptness if we are to make this move at all.

Release S Kor prisoners, as proposed in Deptel 204, Aug 27,2 should not in my opinion be undertaken at this time, if we are going to make move discussed above. In any case, we shld wait to see what effects of pres statement wld be. My reply to Deptel 204 is reflection this view.

  1. Supra.
  2. In this telegram the Department of State asked for Kennan’s comments on the “wisdom” of releasing these POWs and the timing (695A.0024/8–2752). For Kennan’s response, see footnote 4, p. 462.