2. Policy Information Statement Prepared in the Department of State0




(Confidential) A U.S.-Soviet agreement was signed January 27,1 providing for a large number of technical, scientific, and cultural exchanges, including exchange of radio and television broadcasts. The agreement should be soberly portrayed as a mutually advantageous arrangement, reached after long and detailed diplomatic negotiation. In general, U.S. initiative should be emphasized. The agreement may be portrayed as evidence of the possibility of constructive action in certain fields, implicitly bringing out the point that this is most likely to be achieved by unhurried, detailed negotiation through diplomatic channels.

I. Background

(Confidential) The meetings had their immediate origin in a proposal of the United States Government made in June 1957 to exchange uncensored TV and radio broadcasts on world events. (See Department of State Press Release no. 594 of October 25, 1957.)2 The Soviet Government agreed to discuss the United States proposal but in conjunction with discussion of other questions concerning the development of contracts.

The discussions were carried on at Washington since October 28, 1957, between representatives of the U.S. Government, headed by Ambassador W. S. B. Lacy, and a Soviet delegation headed by Ambassador Georgi N. Zaroubin.

Early in the talks, both sides agreed to avoid extensive publicity, and this agreement was generally adhered to. On January 10 Secretary Dulles said of the negotiation that it had “moved along rather well, on a quiet, unheralded basis, without limelight on it, a very good way to negotiate.”

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The Soviets showed themselves hard bargainers, as expected. The Soviet proposals mainly concerned exchanges of delegations and individuals, with emphasis on a wide variety of industrial exchanges, presumably for the purpose of acquiring American industrial know-how. Principal U.S. objectives were to achieve a significant lowering of the traditional Soviet barriers to the free flow of information, and also, through visits of delegations to the U.S.S.R., to acquire knowledge of that country. Neither side succeeded fully in its principal objectives. The great majority of the Soviet proposals which were accepted were considered to be in the U.S. interest and would probably have been granted anyway in the ordinary course of events. On the other hand, the Soviets may have made some concessions in principle on American proposals, which if faithfully implemented, could be significant in improving the flow of information. These concessions were presumably motivated in part by the desire to achieve a formal agreement, which could be portrayed by them as evidence of the Soviets’ having done away with the Iron Curtain, as an indication that the situation in Hungary has been accepted and that the Soviets are again respectable, and as an argument for other Free World countries to sign cultural exchange agreements with the Soviets. The Soviets may also regard the talks as the first step toward bilateral negotiations with the United States on other subjects.

II. Policy Considerations

(Confidential) The agreement, if implemented faithfully, will represent progress toward U.S. objectives. However, it is important to view it in perspective. Its importance should not be exaggerated, especially since it is in the Soviet interest to make it appear to the world that the Iron Curtain is a thing of the past. Furthermore, we must avoid any appearance of feeling that we have obtained the best of the bargain, since this could easily lead to difficulties in getting the Soviets to implement it.

It is advisable to portray the agreement soberly and objectively, as a mutually advantageous agreement, which will promote better understanding, but which is definitely limited in scope and represents relatively minor concessions by the Soviet Union from its general policy of shutting out foreign influences.

The negotiations are also evidence of U.S. willingness to deal with the Soviets in a constructive manner, which is a point worth emphasizing as a counter to charges abroad that the United States is rigid in its positions and does not really wish to negotiate with the Soviets. The agreements, if carried out, will also indicate the possibility of achieving constructive results in specific fields of activity by detailed, unhurried negotiations through diplomatic channels. Caution is required until we see whether the hopes [Page 4] aroused by the present agreements are vindicated by experience in carrying them out. Furthermore, undue hopes should not be aroused that the present negotiations presage success in possible future negotiations on more difficult subjects, such as disarmament, which involve much greater problems of national security.

In general, it is desirable to portray the United States as taking the initiative in promoting exchanges, implicit in this being our confidence that our system can stand comparison and that removing barriers to the flow of information will work in our favor. Facts should be brought out which show that the negotiations were the result of U.S. initiative; that the United States has pressed for a freer flow of information (see Department of State Press Release no. 597 of October 28, 1957);3 that the United States desires a liberal implementation of the present agreement and its expansion to wider scope; and that the exchanges agreed to by the Soviets fall considerably short of the U.S. proposals.

Special policy considerations apply to certain areas, such as in Latin America and the Middle and Far East generally, where there is danger that the conclusion of this agreement between the U.S. and the Soviet Union will weaken opposition to entering into diplomatic relations with Communist regimes and having trade and cultural contracts with them. To such areas, it is desirable to avoid inflating the importance of the agreement or making it appear that exchanges between the Soviet Union and such areas might be a good thing. Mention may be made of the benefits to the Free World of opening up the Soviet Union to outside influences. The point may be made that countries developing such contacts should of course weigh their own resources and facilities for taking advantage of their opportunities and withstanding the massive propaganda efforts of the Soviet Union. This must be handled with great care to avoid offending the sensibilities of the small nations.

With regard to Poland and the Soviet satellites, there is the danger that the agreement will be taken to represent a tendency toward political accommodation by the United States with the Soviet Union, which might lead to the disheartening misconception that the United States will relax its stand against accepting the status quo in Eastern Europe. However, a positive factor is that, by the fact that the Soviet Union has decided to allow increased contacts with the U.S., the Eastern European peoples will be encouraged to press for more such contacts for their own countries and, in the case of Poland, to take advantage of the considerable opportunities already open.

Certain countries, including some NATO allies, are sensitive to any implication that the United States may negotiate with the Soviet Union without due attention to the interests of its allies. It may be desirable in [Page 5] output to such countries to bring out the fact that the United States officially informed its NATO allies and others about the negotiations, both in advance and while they were in progress. It may also be pointed out that the published text and protocol represent the agreements in their entirety.

Terminology: Although the term “East-West” has been loosely applied to the talks, it is preferable to use other terms when feasible, such as “U.S.-Soviet exchange talks,” especially in output to the Middle East and Far East, since we do not wish to imply that the Soviet Union speaks for the East or that the United States speaks for the West.

III. Treatment

(Confidential) In general: Output should be moderate in volume and factual and restrained in tone, portraying the agreement as mutually beneficial, having been reached after prolonged and detailed discussion. Point out features of benefit to the whole world, such as exchanges in the medical and academic fields. Avoid exaggerating the scope of the agreement with regard to reduction of Soviet barriers to the flow of information, putting these in perspective to make clear that much depends on how the agreements are implemented and that in any case major barriers continue in effect. Do not conceal the fact that the United States did not achieve all it had hoped for in the negotiations.

The agreement may be portrayed as evidence of the possibility of constructive action in certain fields, implicitly bringing out the point that this is most likely to be achieved by unhurried, detailed negotiation through diplomatic channels. To areas where appropriate, the point might be implied that the agreement shows that the United States is ready and able to negotiate constructively with the Soviet Union; reference may be made to the abolition of the U.S. fingerprinting requirement for visas;4 reference may also be made to statements by American officials concerning readiness to negotiate, such as by President Eisenhower in his State of the Union Message and by Secretary Dulles in his January 16 Press Club speech;5 facts should be brought out concerning U.S. initiatives.

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IV. Special Treatment

(Confidential) To the Free World: To areas where sentiment is strong in favor of negotiations between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, output should give particular attention to the foregoing points, though moderate in tone and volume. To Latin America and the Middle and Far East, output should be factual, restricted in volume, and in low key; it should bring out facts which indicate that the situation of the U.S. with regard to exchanges is different from that of those countries, with due care to avoid offending the sensibilities of their citizens.

To the Soviet Union: Considerable attention should be given to the agreement, and the careful negotiations which brought it about. Bring out facts which counter Soviet propaganda charges that an American “Iron Curtain” has impeded exchanges. Call the attention of the Soviet populace to the American films, TV and radio programs, and other items which are supposed to be made available to them under the exchange agreement. Stress the opportunities for academic study in the United States and for visits by intellectuals and others.

To the Soviet Satellites and Poland: Output should be moderate in volume and tone. It should avoid any implication that the agreement represents a tendency toward accommodation by the United States to the status quo in Eastern Europe. It should bring out the facts which indicate that the Soviet Union is willing to allow increased contacts with the Free World and should encourage the desire of the listeners for similar contacts.

V. Public Position

(Unclassified) The text of the agreement was released January 27, under cover of a joint communiqué, together with two supplementary press releases. These are enclosed.6

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 511.00/1–2958. Confidential. Transmitted as an enclosure to circular instruction CA–6459, January 29, sent to 99 diplomatic and consular posts.
  2. For texts of the agreement and a joint U.S.-Soviet communiqué issued on January 27, see Department of State Bulletin, February 17, 1958, pp. 243–247.
  3. Ibid., November 18, 1957, p. 800.
  4. This press release, as well as the opening statements made by Lacy and Zaroubin on October 28, are ibid., pp. 800–803.
  5. On October 10, 1957, Secretary of State Dulles and the Attorney General authorized the publication of regulations to waive the fingerprinting requirement at the time of visa issuance, under certain conditions. For texts of the Department of State announcement and the new regulations, see ibid., October 28, 1957, p. 682.
  6. Extracts of the President’s State of the Union Address, January 9, 1957, are ibid., January 27, 1958, pp. 115–122. The Secretary of State’s January 16 speech is ibid., February 3, 1958, pp. 159–163.
  7. The two press releases are not printed here; for texts, see ibid., February 17, 1958, p. 247.