189. Telegram From the Secretary of State to Ambassador U. Alexis Johnson, at Geneva1

2217. Guidance for June 28 meeting.


FYI Indian Ambassador wrote Department June 252 as follows:

“Under the terms of the Agreed Announcement made at Geneva on September 10, 1955, this Embassy may make representations to the United States Government only if requested to do so by a Chinese who believes that he is encountering obstruction in departure to the People’s Republic of China. Further, we are competent to investigate the facts in any such case, only if desired to do so by the People’s Republic of China This Embassy has received no authority from the People’s Republic of China to interview the Chinese prisoners named in the list attached to your aide-mémoire of May 31.3 I regret, therefore, that we are unable to act in the manner requested in your two communications referred to above. I trust you will appreciate the position.”

You will note Indian Embassy letter carefully avoids any implication that Embassy will not act if requested do so by a Chinese. Department’s tentative plan, if Indian Embassy will not visit prisons,4 is to offer each prisoner opportunity express decision as to whether he desires be deported to Communist China, or Taiwan or remain in prison and also, if he wishes to communicate with Indian Embassy. End FYI.

You should seek exploit Wang’s abrupt reversal of position on Chinese prisoners, but avoid giving Wang any clue as to action we propose take in light of Indian letter. Inquire of Wang how he proposes reconcile his sudden loss of interest in Chinese prisoners with his former insistence that Agreed Announcement applied to prisoners, that information be supplied concerning them and that they be given benefit provisions Agreed Announcement. Place on record your conclusion that his newly discovered objections to performance of any Indian Embassy function as to prisoners is totally at variance with his frequently reiterated previous position, and is inexplicable.
Results we seek from prisoner move remain the same: (1) put maximum psychological pressure on Chinese Communists make good [Page 384] on their Agreed Announcement and release imprisoned Americans, and (2) make Chinese Communist position untenable if they refuse to act. Hence we do not wish to provoke them to a point where reaction inimical to prospects imprisoned Americans would occur. At same time we cannot fail expose complete inconsistency of their position on prisoners. We note that last meeting Wang continued assert that Chinese prisoners covered by Agreed Announcement.
We have nothing new to add on renunciation of force and you should continue reiterate our position, stressing our attempts arrive at meaningful declaration by adopting their proposed language with clarifying additions.
FYI Would be interested in any reaction by Wang postponement of Nehru’s scheduled July visit.
Re your letter 38,5 no objection July 6 or 7 for next meeting. If UN space demands make meeting impracticable week of July 9, we would prefer responsibility for postponement until week of July 16 be shared with Wang.
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 611.93/6–2656. Secret; Priority; Limit Distribution. Drafted by McConaughy, approved by Robertson, and cleared in substance with Phleger.
  2. Not printed. (Ibid., 211.9311/6–2556)
  3. See footnote 4, Document 181.
  4. On June 27 Robertson wrote to Ambassador Mehta urging “a reconsideration of the decision of your Government”. (Department of State, Central Files, 211.9311/6–2756)
  5. A copy of Johnson’s letter No. 38 to McConaughy, June 20, is ibid., Geneva Talks Files: Lot 72 D 415, Geneva—Correspondence Re US–PRC, 1955–1956.