125. Telegram From Ambassador U. Alexis Johnson to the Department of State1

1308. 1. One and one-half hour meeting this morning.

2. Wang insisted on opening making strongest charges to date of US stalling, “insincerity” and renewing line of last meeting on implementation. Made special reference to cruel and inhuman treatment portion Dept release. Statement constituted strong invitation to me to rehash implementation discussion last few meetings.

3. In light subsequent developments at meeting, believe Wang was attempting lay basis for immediate issuance by them of public statement on Agenda Item Two discussions and US failure respond their December 1 draft on renunciation of force. However, believe this was forestalled by my subsequent statement along lines Deptel 1410,2 particularly para 5 which, however, I stated in somewhat less categorical fashion.

4. In reply he reiterated points his opening statement and in noting my statement re discussion his draft proposed January 12 meeting said: “I should say that that would be the last opportunity for us to reach an agreement on basis our new draft. We can permit no further delay. Otherwise we will be compelled to make public the proceedings of our discussions on the second item of our agenda and leave it to public opinion for judgment. We cannot afford to endure definite delay in this respect.”

5. Although foregoing statement carries some implication of break-off, I interpret it only to be threat to go to public.3 Believe, [Page 230] however, introduction our amendments next meeting would probably forestall this.

6. I challenged ultimatum aspect this statement characterizing as threat. In reply he did not withdraw statement but denied it was threat. He proposed and during subsequent give and take strongly insisted on next meeting January 6. I indicated I could not give any assurances would be in position discuss his December 1 draft before January 12. He finally accepted my suggestion. We announced next meeting for January 12 and if in meanwhile any developments either considered to make meeting desirable would get in touch with other. Agreed press announcement would state simply that in view of Christmas and New Year holidays next meeting January 12. Word recess was not used.

Departing for Prague this evening.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 611.12–2255. Confidential; Priority; Limited Distribution.
  2. Document 123.
  3. Johnson commented in letter No. 20 to McConaughy, December 22, that he thought “they were prepared to go to the public today if I had said nothing on their draft”. He further commented:

    “I think it likely that their present estimate of the situation is that our only interest is in obtaining the release of all of the Americans and that if and when this is accomplished we will be quick to cut off any further negotiations. I feel that our future moves should take account of this probable estimate on their part.” (Department of State, Geneva Talks Files: Lot 72 D 415, Geneva—Correspondence Re US–PRC, 1955–1956)