280. Memorandum From the Executive Secretary of the Department of State (Read) to the President’s Special Assistant (Rostow)1


  • USUSSR Exchanges Agreement for 1968–69

On February 27 I sent you the US draft for a new exchanges agreement with the Soviet Union for 1968–69. Negotiations began in Moscow June 3, and have now been completed. I enclose a copy of the agreed text.2

The new agreement retains the structure, general and procedural provisions of the last agreement, including protective language to insure reciprocity in performing arts and other programs. We were able to include a potentially valuable new provision for distribution of Amerika magazine to visitors at American exhibits. The Soviets also agreed to numerous editorial improvements in the text.

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As the Under Secretary informed the President in his memorandum dated June 29,3 the Soviets insisted during the negotiations that they would continue the exchanges of performing arts groups and exhibits only at reduced levels. Since then we pressed for, and the Soviets agreed to, an increase to six in the number of cities at which exhibits may be shown. Since the last agreement provided for two exhibits in three cities each, the new provision gives our exhibit exposure equal to that obtained by both sent in 1966–67.

In performing arts, the Soviets insisted to the end that they were able to send only three groups to the US in 1968–69 (against four actually sent and five provided for in 1966–67). The new agreement, thus, provides for the exchange of three performing arts groups in the next 18 months. In exchanges of individual performing artists, the new agreement contains tighter reciprocity provisions which may help to increase the number of American artists visiting the USSR.

Other programs are continued at levels either approximately equal to those provided for 1966–67 or ranging downward to the level actually implemented during that period. To a degree, we limited levels in technical exchanges in order to preserve the overall internal balance of the agreement.

In view of the President’s interest, we thought you might want to see the agreed text which we plan to authorize Ambassador Thompson to sign.4

Benjamin H. Read 5
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, USSR, Vol. XXI. Confidential.
  2. Not attached.
  3. Document 276.
  4. The agreement was signed at Moscow on July 15 by Thompson and Nikolai M. Lunkov, Director of the Cultural Relations Department, Soviet Foreign Ministry. For text, see Department of State Bulletin, August 5, 1968, pp. 154–159.
  5. John P. Walsh signed for Read above Read’s typed signature.