770. Letter 62 from McConaughy to Johnson 1

Letter No. 62
Dear Alex:
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I have checked with Bill Godel in General Erskine’s office on the status of Col. Ekvall. Bill assures me that there will be no difficulty in extending his present assignment. Apparently the red tape that has vexed us previously will not have to be contended with again. However, Bill warned me that Ekvall is nearing the mandatory retirement age of 60. He wanted to give us due notice so that we would have ample time to make other arrangements. We have checked the Army register and find that Ekvall was born in February, 1898. Hence his compulsory retirement date should be February 28, 1958. That is far enough in the future so that we will not have to worry about the matter for the present. As you know, we now have a modest Foreign Service interpreter training program under the guidance of Howard Sollenberger of the Foreign Service Institute. The first trainee, John Dexter (already a Chinese language Officer) should complete the interpreter training by early next year.

We have received intimations from Dave and Helenka that he is very eager to return to his work in CA and that you might be willing to consider releasing him after the next meeting. Undoubtedly FE would get a much larger over-all return from Dave if he were working full-time for us here in the Department, rather than for brief and infrequent periods at Geneva. This [Facsimile Page 2] would seem to be doubly true since the talks have entered a stereotyped phase where there is little for him or any other assistant to contribute. It has occurred to me that we might explore the possibility of bringing Dave back, and detailing Ed Martin to commute between London and Geneva for the meetings, if you are receptive to the idea. Probably it would have to be understood that there would be no more than two meetings a month in this event. We have not discussed the matter with EUR or Embassy, London, and will not do so until we got your reaction. We have ascertained that such an arrangement apparently would be feasible from the FE budgetary standpoint, although FE’s travel expenses, plus the differential pay which Dave would receive when he is back in the Department, would come to a little more than we are now spending. I have to make this [Typeset Page 1293] letter unclassified, since otherwise there would be a long pouch delay. However, I believe the essentials are spelled out.

We intend to see that you get all the support you feel you need, and if the proposed arrangement would not suit you we want you to say so. It would be clearly understood, of course, that if you do give up Dave, we would reassign him or someone of comparable qualifications for full-time service should the talks take a new turn involving the discussion of other major substantive matters.

Regards and good wishes to you and Pat for all of ‘57.


Walter P. McConaughy
  1. Source: Department of State, Geneva Talks Files, Lot 72D415. Unclassified; Official–Informal. Drafted by McConaughy.