774. Telegram 705 from Geneva1

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705. From Johnson.

Re travel Communist China as indicated Mytel 67 Aug 16 from Prague felt fact issue largely turned into one between US press and USG had largely destroyed negotiating value position here and best course was find some way acquiesce and capitalize on situation rather than have correspondents travel in defiance USG policy. As some correspondents have now in fact travelled and further such travel must be anticipated if correspondents now there not prosecuted or courts refuse convict, and as Wirin’s travel will probably give rise to question travel by others such as families prisoners who may well consider selves more deserving, feel negotiating value position thus far taken here has now been destroyed.

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This, as CHICOMS feel selves well on way accomplishing immediate purpose this field with bonus of having created issue between US press and USG, in spite our position here, continuation that position will not constitute effective pressure on them expedite release remaining Americans.

Do not believe there is sufficient possibility modification US position would expedite releases to justify such modification solely on this ground but do not feel such modification would have adverse effects and in fact might have slightly favorable effects. However, such modification could not now be exploited here and if such decision were taken it could probably best be done by public statement pegged to appropriate appeal from Society Newspaper Editors or other such action.

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[garble] fully recognizes extreme difficulty such modification at this time feel this action preferable to further erosion our position by developing events.

Re inquiry McConaughy Jan 14 letter cannot recall clearance with FE of press release 341 May 1 1952 and use word “China.” Without further clarification would appear indicate language may not have been considered in FE. However, it possible language was cleared on basis we were at time also discouraging travel Taiwan in view possibility spread Korean hostilities that area. Taken in context and from my recollection practical application it seems clear intent first sentence second para was simply state endorsement did not constitute inflexible ban on such travel which however could be undertaken only after authorization accordance procedure second sentence second para.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 611.93/1–1757. Secret; Limit Distribution.