13. Memorandum of a Conversation Between the President and the Secretary of State, The White House Residence, January 17, 1955, 5–6 p.m.1

The President had the ticker report on Knowland’s speech in Chicago.2 He said he was unhappy about it, that he did not know what Knowland really wanted, and that it was just muddying the water. I said that at least this time Knowland had talked to me before he had made his speech3 and indicated that he felt that it might not do any harm if he indicated a certain restlessness. He felt this might improve our bargaining position.
I raised the question of Hammarskjold’s coming to Washington to see the President or me.4 After considerable discussion, it was [Page 35] concluded that I should ask him down to see me but that he would not see the President. In this connection the President recalled that Hammarskjold had not seen Mao Tse-tung so far as we knew.
I discussed the packages and the offer of visas.5 The President felt we should perhaps plan to deliver the packages with the film personally, asking perhaps one or more Defense officers to call to see the next of kin and perhaps to dissuade them from trying to go to China. He felt that even if they do go to China, we should not issue passports to the newspapermen.

[Here follows discussion concerning the regulation of armaments.]

  1. Source: Eisenhower Library, Dulles Papers, Meetings with the President. Secret; Personal and Private. Drafted by Dulles.
  2. Senate Minority Leader William F. Knowland, in a speech that day before the Newspaper Advertising Executives Association in Chicago, had called Hammarskjöld’s mission a failure and warned against a “Far Eastern Munich”; the speech was reported in the New York Times, January 18, 1955.
  3. A conversation between the Secretary and Senator Knowland on January 15 is recorded in a memorandum of conversation by Dulles dated January 17. Knowland expressed “considerable dissatisfaction” at developments concerning the U.S. flyers in China and suggested that it might be helpful if someone in the Senate spoke out “vigorously” on the subject. Dulles replied that he saw “no serious objection” to this but that he hoped the Senator would not “urge specific drastic action, which, in fact, the Administration would not be disposed to take.” (Eisenhower Library, Dulles Papers, General Memoranda of Conversation)
  4. A memorandum by Murphy of a telephone conversation with Hammarskjöld on January 14 states that the Secretary-General proposed coming to Washington for a “relaxed talk” with Eisenhower and Dulles about his talks with Chou in order to give them his perspective on the problem. (Attached to a memorandum from Murphy to Dulles, January 15, 1955; ibid., WangJohnson Talks)
  5. Lodge had reported in telegram 363 from New York, January 16, 1955, that Hammarskjöld had told him of his intention to send and make public a letter to Lodge transmitting packages with pictures and information concerning each prisoner and stating Chou’s proposal to issue visas to the prisoners’ families. Lodge objected to U.N. publication of the proposal. (Department of State, Central Files, 611.95A241/1–1655)