154. Memorandum From Secretary of State Rusk to President Johnson1


  • New Exchanges Agreement with Soviet Union

We have now completed negotiations and are prepared to sign on March 16 a new two-year exchanges agreement with the Soviet Union.2

The new agreement provides for a balanced program of exchanges generally comparable in scope and size to the previous program. The agreement also preserves the provisions which keep the program under United States Government direction.

In addition, we successfully introduced new language regarding the appearance of performing arts groups in order to prevent any repetition of the “Hello, Dolly!” situation. Henceforth, if the Soviets fail to receive an agreed American group, we now have a clearly understood basis for refusing their groups. The Soviets are also signing today a contract to receive the Iowa State Symphony Band to make up for their failure to receive “Hello, Dolly!”. Thus, when we sign the over-all agreement on Wednesday, the way will be clear for the Bolshoi Ballet to come to the United States on April 19.

After prolonged resistance, the Soviets finally accepted an exchange of two exhibits. The previous agreement had provided for an exchange of three exhibits, but in practice the Soviets refused to approve more than two, since American exhibits are politically troublesome for them.

We made clear to the Soviets our concern over obtaining adequate arrangements for distribution of Amerika magazine in the U.S.S.R. They in turn indicated that our distribution would be improved if circulation of their magazine Soviet Life increases in the United States.

The Soviet decision to negotiate the agreement, after months of stalling, and Soviet willingness to receive American attractions beginning next month (after refusing to do so since last September on the grounds of Viet-Nam) indicate a Soviet desire not only to keep the exchanges program alive, but also to avoid further deterioration in U.S.-U.S.S.R. relations.

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The Soviets have indicated that they wish a minimum of publicity on the agreement. Obviously they are sensitive to Peiping’s charges of Soviet-American collaboration. For our part, we see no reason to play up the agreement.

Dean Rusk 3
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, EDX 4 USUSSR. Confidential. Drafted by Klosson.
  2. For text of the Agreement, signed March 19, see American Foreign Policy: Current Documents, 1966, pp. 461–476.
  3. Printed from a copy that indicates Rusk signed the original.