224. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in the Soviet Union 1

104325. Ref: Moscow 2566.2 Please deliver soonest to Gromyko following message from President Johnson to Chairman Kosygin:

“January 25, 1968

Dear Mr. Chairman: On previous occasions you and I have discussed with each other the duty of all great powers to exercise their maximum effort to maintain the peace. On this basis I am urging your most serious personal attention to the irrational action of North Korean authorities in seizing the USS Pueblo in international waters in the Sea of Japan. This calculated action by North Korea is almost literally without precedent in modern times and cannot be accepted. It was engaged in no hostile action, it was clearly in international waters and was seized under circumstances which we find literally intolerable. You yourself have similar ships in various parts of the world, including at least one now present in the Sea of Japan, and could not accept action of the sort perpetrated by the North Koreans.

I was disappointed that Mr. Kuznetsov, in a conversation with Ambassador Thompson, seemed to brush the matter aside as something which does not involve Soviet responsibility. This does not reflect the true responsibilities of our two governments for the reduction of tensions and for the prevention of conflict. This act of provocation by North Korea has created a deep sense of outrage among the American people.

I do not know what North Korea has in mind in this situation. But, recalling our conversations at Glassboro, I am sure that we must agree that our common interests in preserving world peace would not be served by increased tensions in this area of the world.

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I am taking the liberty of addressing this frank message to you in the hope that you will use whatever influence you have in Pyongyang and press them to release immediately the USS Pueblo and its officers and men. I hope you will find it possible to be responsive to our concern. Sincerely, Lyndon B. Johnson.”

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 33–6 KOR N–US. Top Secret; Immediate; Nodis. Drafted at the White House, cleared by Rusk, and approved by Read.
  2. See footnotes 5 and 7, Document 223.