109. Editorial Note

At the Secretary of State’s Staff meeting on December 3, Secretary Dulles questioned whether the press should be informed of the suspension of the exchange program with the Soviet Union “because it carries the implication that our past decisions to have exchanges were taken in [the] Soviet interest.” He had no doubt that the exchanges should be suspended, since he felt that recent events had shown the United States probably had less to gain from them. Under [Page 255] Secretary Hoover replied that the decision to suspend the exchanges had been made in discussion with the President following the Hungarian crisis and that it was to be a “temporary suspension pending clarification and a new evaluation of the situation.” It was decided that in any discussion with the press on this subject, it should be emphasized that the suspension was temporary and “the inference should be avoided that our past policy of exchanges has been dictated by any desire to help the USSR at the expense of the U.S.” (Department of State, Secretary’s Staff Meetings: Lot 63 D 75) Later that day, the following responses were given by a Department of State spokesman to questions raised about the possible suspension of East-West exchanges at the Department’s press briefing:

“Q. Have we suspended our exchange program with the Russians?

“A. Well, in view of recent developments, proposed Governmental exchanges with the Soviet Union have been suspended during a reappraisal of the program. This reappraisal is continuing.

“Q. When was the decision made?

“A. I don’t have any specific date. It has been some weeks.

“Q. How about the satellite countries?

“A. This does not apply to any other country in Eastern Europe.

“Q. Is the State Department doing anything to discourage private exchanges?

“A. Not to my knowledge.

“Q. You say it is due to recent developments. Do you mean particularly the Soviet intervention in Hungary?

“A. I think you could draw that conclusion.

“Q. The decision (to reappraise the policy) came after the Hungarian attack, didn’t it?

“A. Yes.

“Q. You are talking about proposed exchanges having been suspended.

“A. This applies to what is commonly known as ‘East-West Exchanges’ and this refers—as I have made clear—specifically to US-USSR exchanges.

“Q. Have we told the Soviet Governmental authorities to whom we have been proposing these exchanges, about our decision to suspend this program?

“A. That I do not know.

“Q. We have now decided not to participate in the (Moscow Trade) Fair, is that correct?

“A. That is right.”

This exchange was quoted in telegram 675 to Moscow, December 4, in which the Department of State also noted that it planned to continue the East-West Contacts division. (Ibid., Central Files, 511.613/12–456)