779. Letter 53 from Johnson to McConaughy 1

Letter No. 53
Dear Walter:
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Back from the 64th. As I implied in my summary it was a dreary affair. Today he seemed to be saying that he was willing to sit there just as many months as I was but I should not believe he was going to make any further moves and I said the same back to him. So there we are. It is not a cheerful prospect. As a footnote, if I did not seem too brilliant at the end it was because my mouth was hurting from a tooth I had to have pulled late yesterday evening which, together with other facts of nature, made me desperate to get out of there.

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Incidentally, I told the New York Times man here yesterday that, without any direct quotation, he could indicate I was very unhappy that some correspondents had traveled to Communist China in spite of the U.S. Government’s position as it obviously had greatly weakened my position vis a vis Wang here. I hope this will be of help to the Department.

I also had USIS expand out their story from here on today’s meeting to review the facts on the release of Americans and the fact no Chinese have been obstructed in leaving the U.S. I suggest you take a look at it. I thought it would be useful for the field to be reminded of some facts to counteract the line Chou has been putting out on his journeys.

The talks now seem in a complete cul de sac and look as if they could well continue indefinitely in that state. It now seems to me that while they would probably quickly fall into any move on our part which would place the onus for a [Facsimile Page 2] break on us, they are not going to take the onus for breaking and only some major outside development or a move by one side or the other in the talks can resolve the impasse. It seems clear we cannot at the present stage expect the release of any Americans other than possibly slightly expedited releases of those whose terms will shortly expire.

I am, of course, entirely willing to go on as we are if it is still felt it is serving a useful purpose but I hope that that decision will be fully examined at a high level. I am not arguing that the exercise is not useful, I think it may well be, but I just want to be sure that the Secretary also still thinks so.

Sincerely,

U. Alexis Johnson
American Ambassador
  1. Source: Department of State, Geneva Talks Files, Lot 72D415. Secret; Official–Informal. Johnson signed the original “Alex.”