FOREIGN RELATIONS: Down to Hard Cases

Closing out a nine-day tour that took him from Washington to six other U.S. cities. Soviet Deputy Premier Anastas Mikoyan last week returned to the nation's capital. His trip had been a smashing success—from his viewpoint. For behind him Anastas Mikoyan left scores of well-meaning Americans who, failing to realize that he had not backed up an inch on any basic Kremlin position (see box), had mistaken his warm smile as tokening a real thaw in the cold war.

Back in Washington, Mikoyan was greeted by still more Americans certain he had peace proposals packed away in his portfolio. Lunching on steak with members of the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Mikoyan waxed expansive on the Rapacki plan for neutralizing Germany, suggested that Russian and Western troops each withdraw 500 miles from Berlin. Such a retreat, leaving the Russians comfortably on their own soil, the U.S. uncomfortably somewhere west of Paris, had twice before been urged by the Russians, twice before been rejected by the West. Nonetheless, Minnesota Democrat Hubert Humphrey, who had met Mikoyan during his headlined Kremlin visit (TIME, Dec. 15), thought Mikoyan showed "flexibility of attitude."

Others were less enchanted. Republican Styles Bridges skipped the lunch, reported loss of appetite because the "fawning over Mikoyan makes me sick to my stomach.''

Previous Positions. By week's end Mikoyan got down to hard cases with two men who, while entirely willing to listen, shared none of the loose optimism about the real purposes of Mikoyan's visit. The men: John Foster Dulles and Dwight Eisenhower. Mustache bristling and a thoughtful scowl replacing a fortnight's smile, Mikoyan was ushered into Secretary of State Dulles' beige and rose office for a lengthy talk before he called at the White House. Conversation touched on many points, e.g., the Geneva conferences, the whereabouts of eleven U.S. flyers still missing after a 1958 crash inside Russia. But it centered rapidly on Germany. Mikoyan mentioned Dulles' press conference three days earlier, wondered whether the U.S. had actually given up its insistence on free elections as a prerequisite to German unification, as had been reported by U.S. newspapers (see PRESS). Dulles said bluntly that the U.S. position had not changed a bit. Had Mikoyan alternate suggestions? No, indeed—beyond speaking vaguely of a confederation of the two Germanys that might eventually lead to actual reunification.

Next morning Mikoyan, wearing a red, white and blue muffler against the 20° Washington weather, stepped out of a Soviet embassy Cadillac at the White House. Said John Foster Dulles: "We've got some of your Moscow weather." Dulles introduced Mikoyan to President Eisenhower, and for an hour and 45 minutes the three discussed Germany, world trade and disarmament. As in previous conferences, neither side budged. Mikoyan's whole approach, said a White House aide later, was "the same old cracked record."

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