156. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Soviet Defectors


  • The Secretary
  • Llewellyn E. Thompson, Ambassador-at-Large, Department of State
  • Ambassador Anatoliy F. Dobrynin, USSR

At a luncheon conversation with the Soviet Ambassador today, Ambassador Thompson said that he thought the Soviet Government made a mistake when we returned Soviet defectors to the Soviet Union; the Soviet press published charges and attacks against us. He said that we had followed scrupulously a principle of returning anyone who wanted to go back, but the Soviet action in exploiting these people made it more difficult for us to maintain our policy. When the Ambassador pointed out that Soviet actions were based upon statements made by the returned defectors, the Secretary and Mr. Thompson pointed out that the returned defectors naturally had to try to justify their actions.

Ambassador Dobrynin then launched upon a very vigorous discussion of our actions in promptly getting hold of Soviet defectors in every part of the world. He mentioned the recent case in Greece as an example. He said he was quite sure that we got little of value from these people but he could assure the Secretary that our actions in quickly getting hold of these people and flying them to the United States made a very strong impression upon his Government and had a serious effect upon our bilateral relations.

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 30 USSR. Secret. Drafted and initialed by Thompson and approved in S/AL on March 19. For other topics discussed during the conversation, see footnote 1, Document 155.