798. Letter 55 from Johnson to McConaughy1

Letter No. 55
Dear Walter:
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You will see that nothing remarkable developed at today’s meeting. At the end I virtually dared him to make a move to break off if he wanted to but he didn’t accept the challenge.

First, I enormously appreciated your letter and the authority from the Department to take home leave if I desired to do so. Please express my personal appreciation to the Secretary at a suitable opportunity. Frankly, when I wrote to EE I had no thought whatever of the possibility, and, as I told them, was thinking only of a quick trip between monthly meetings. However, I must confess that the prospect of some leave at home is most attractive, and opens up new vistas that I had not contemplated. [text not declassified] Therefore, to extract maximum advantage from the opportunity I took advantage of your generous offer to set my own time and did not ask for the postponement this time. My present thought is at the meeting May 9 or thereabouts to ask for the following meeting July 11. This would enable me to leave directly from Geneva following the May 9 meeting, spend the week of May 13 in the Department, start leave the week of May 20 taking about six weeks ending about June 30, and be back in Prague for the July 4 reception, and then come down here for the meeting the following week. This is, of course, always subject to any last minute developments either here [Facsimile Page 2] or in Prague that would clearly make it undesirable. I would appreciate your letting EE know of this plan, and confirming [Typeset Page 1353] that neither FE or EE have any objections. I do not know how Wang will take it, but the more I think about it I think that it might not be a bad idea from the standpoint of the talks themselves. In any event, I might come back with a somewhat more sprightly approach. Frankly, I feel run out of ideas at the moment.

Now for other business. Thanks very much for your letter of March 8, as well as for Ralph’s of March 11. [text not declassified]

I see that Taipei came up with about the same idea as the Secretary’s on the correspondents. It seems like a very good out to me and hope that it goes through.

I have gone over the ICRC list of Korean POW’s (your transmittal slip 2/28/57). While I have not had a chance to check it against our list, I am struck by some very odd aspects that appear to indicate it is in itself very incomplete. You will note that it is arranged alphabetically starting off with “Chidester” an American and continues with Americans “no materials available” through “Smith” and then suddenly shifts to “Southworth” British through “Wylie” British “no materials available” and then again starts up with Americans running from “Adamo” through “Chavez”. It then starts out with “Macnair-raga” an American escapee and runs alphabetically through “Zawacki” later starting with “Alcorn” as an American escapee and running through “Levitski”. Subsequently it starts another alphabetical list of Americans “no materials available” with “Jensen” and running through “Ziemer”, but there does not appear to be any place that the first part of that alphabetical series is given. In any event I would appreciate knowing what Defense makes of it, and whether it adds anything to what we were given at Panmunjon.

With respect to Ralph’s inquiry on my views concerning a public “progress report” on this question, I certainly have no objection from my standpoint. I think that by all means we ought to use the new figure of 383 with an explanation of the difference. I have no particular thoughts on what form it might take, but perhaps a letter to a Congressional committee pegged to Lane’s resolution might be the best. I have no objection, and, in fact think it ought to include what we have done here on the subject, keeping it entirely factual.

I notice that in the Secretary’s statement at Canberra he spoke of the Chinese Communist refusal to renounce war “as an instrument of its policy in relation to Taiwan and Penghu”, whereas we have previously been very careful to use the term “Taiwan area” so as to embrace the offshore islands. Does this have any significance? I am sure it will be noted in Peiping and Taipeh.

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Has the “Wirin case” entirely subsided or is it going to raise its head again?

Tell Dave we have been moved out of our room because of the Hungarian hearings and are back where we were during the Foreign Ministers’ Conference.

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I hope you have a chance for a little relaxation at Bermuda. I do not suppose you are getting to make the slow cruiser trip, but it would be nice if you could.

All the best to everyone.


U. Alexis Johnson
American Ambassador

P.S. Tell whoever handles it that they no longer need to send the Daily Summary extracts to me here. With the gap between meetings the copies I receive at Prague are entirely sufficient.


Note from McConaughy to Freers2

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Please read the attached letter of March 14 from Alex Johnson. I presume EUR has no objection to his proposal to take leave from about May 10 to July 1, but I would like to have definite confirmation of that before I answer his letter. I am also attaching a copy of my letter to Alex of March 8.

Walter P McConaughy
  1. Source: Department of State, Geneva Talks Files, Lot 72D415. Secret; Official–Informal. Drafted by Johnson who signed the original “Alex.”
  2. No classification marking. McConaughy initialed the note “WPMcC.”