265. Telegram 817 from Geneva1

[Facsimile Page 1]

817. From Johnson.

Two of problems I face with respect to next meeting are Wang’s probable refusal be drawn into any discussion implementation and his already expressed refusal be drawn into discussion of an “agenda” under item two. Have managed maintain present line for almost one month with negative results thus far on return additional Americans. Within narrow frame of obtaining return Americans I would be inclined to continue on and harden our present line up to point of threatening [Typeset Page 357] take issue to public and facing break if necessary. However within large frame of reference this is not practical.
Therefore, my inclination for next meeting or two is try out tactic of what might be termed softening our line by omitting all reference to implementation and concentrating on renunciation of force. I do not see we lose anything by this and hope we might gain something with respect release Americans. I have in every possible way expressed our dissatisfaction with implementation and have thoroughly preserved my ability return to it at any time. If this tactic produces no favorable results on release Americans during course next meeting or two I am in a position to return to implementation in stronger terms than ever.
Renunciation of force is nothing they desire discuss and it gives them nothing. My thought would be to open next meeting with prepared statement, giving Wang a copy, and [Facsimile Page 2] see where this leads. It is also an excellent reply to his statement at today’s meeting to which I would attempt no direct reply at this time.
With respect to future offer for consideration thought that I might at some time suggest either of us could at end these talks bring up any procedural matters we considered appropriate and any discussion higher level meeting should be deferred until that time. This would be consistent our present position and still keep pot of gold dangling. Unless we do something this nature seems to me in spite our best efforts going to become increasingly clear to CHICOMS that there is nothing for them in item two. We must postpone as long as possible their coming to this conclusion, and this is becoming increasingly difficult.
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 611.93/10–555. Secret; Priority; Limited Distribution.