153. Memorandum From Secretary of State Rusk to President Johnson1


  • Opening of Negotiations with Soviet Union on Renewal of Exchanges Agreement

Today we opened negotiations in Washington to renew our over-all agreement with the Soviets for across-the-board exchanges ranging from science to tourism.2

If successful, this will be the fifth agreement—the first was in 1958—and will cover the period 1966–67.

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The Soviets have been dragging their feet in starting these talks. Now they have given us a draft and want to wind up matters quickly. They talk of two weeks whereas the 1964–65 negotiations took 46 days. We are ready to cooperate in arriving at an agreement promptly but only if the Soviets do not persist in rehashing old arguments already settled in previous agreements and only if they give us satisfaction on clauses which will assure adequate reciprocity and a truly balanced agreement.

Repetition of the “Hello, Dolly!” episode3 must be prevented by making it clear that no Soviet performance will be allowed here unless we have a firm contract in hand for an American performance there. We must assure adequate arrangements for distribution of Amerika magazine in the Soviet Union. We must obtain reasonable access for American exhibits in the USSR. And we must keep the whole program under U.S. Government direction and not allow them to by-pass the State Department in their dealings with private American organizations. These are essentials on which we will insist.

We expect hard bargaining but no serious problems in the other fields: scientific, technical, agricultural, medical, educational, films, cultural, sports and tourism.

The Soviet draft of the proposed agreement would reduce the exchanges somewhat, in keeping with the Viet-Nam atmosphere. Significantly, the draft also omits the color words of previous agreements, which implied a desire for more friendly relations. They may have seriously debated stopping the exchanges entirely but evidently decided otherwise. We would like to put the emphasis on expansion of exchanges and on language conveying the idea of improving relations but will not fight hard on these points. The important thing is to keep the program going, if we can do so, on a fully equitable basis.

I will report to you further before negotiations are concluded.4

Dean Rusk
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, USSR, Vol. VIII. Confidential. No drafting information appears on the memorandum.
  2. On February 14, 1966, Sergei K. Romanovsky, Chairman of the Soviet State Committee for Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries, told Kohler that the Soviet Union was now willing to proceed with the negotiating of the fifth agreement on exchanges. (Telegram 2496 from Moscow, February 14; National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, EDX 4 USUSSR) In an analysis of this development Kohler stated that the decision to go ahead was significant even beyond the maintenance of exchanges. (Telegram 2497 from Moscow, February 14; ibid., CUL 16 USSR)
  3. Although never canceled, the Soviet Union continually delayed the appearance of “Hello, Dolly” in Moscow throughout 1965.
  4. Memoranda of the discussions at the plenary meetings and subcommittee sessions are in National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, EDX USUSSR.