793. Letter 67 from Clough to Johnson1
Walter McConaughy received a message yesterday that his 86-year old father was seriously ill following a heart attack, so he flew to Alabama. He hopes to be back on Wednesday but that will, of course, depend on his father’s condition.
I have only one item to add at this time to Walter’s letter of March 8. The Department of Defense “Prisoner Officer,” Jim Kelleher, has told us that there is strong sentiment in Defense for an official “progress report’’ of same kind on actions taken by State and Defense regarding the missing 450. Both departments, but particularly Defense, are under continuous pressure from relatives and interested parties in Congress and elsewhere for action. Congressman Lane’s proposed resolution that this be made the “primary objective of the foreign policy of the United States” (later toned down at our suggestion) is an indication of the feeling. Unfortunately, the only progress report we could make is one which said, in effect, “no progress,” but it would serve to show that we have not been idle. We would appreciate any ideas you might have as to the kind of public statement that might be usefully made on this subject. We would, of course, have to decide whether [Facsimile Page 2] we would stick to the 450 figure or use the new figure of 383, with a suitable explanation to account for the difference.
We will meet today to draft instructions for your next meeting. As Walter said, we do not expect to come up with anything new. We are all looking forward to seeing you when you come home on leave.
With best regards,
- Source: Department of State, Geneva Talks Files, Lot 72D415. Confidential; Official–Informal. Drafted by Clough.↩