Let’s Talk About Détente, 1977

Today’s post was written by David Langbart, archivist in Research Services at the National Archives at College Park, MD.

In mid-July 1977, Nathaniel Davis, the U.S. ambassador to Switzerland, was contacted by representatives of the Central Studio of Documentary Films in Moscow about sitting for an interview about “détente.”

Ambassador Davis reported the contact in a telegram to the Department of State, copied to the U.S. embassy in Moscow for information.  In discussing the invitation, the ambassador noted that the Soviets had recently refused to permit the U.S. ambassador in that country, Malcolm Toon, from appearing on Soviet television on July 4, after initially agreeing to do so.  Davis also noted the recent expulsion of the U.S. press correspondent Robert Toth.  He deferred to the Department on whether or not to participate in the documentary.

In response, Ambassador Toon sent this humorous, but serious, telegram from Moscow:

while I would be happy to have tedious TV fare here...I feel we should forego this pleasure
Telegram from Ambassador Toon to American Embassy, Bern, July 1977

The Department agreed and advised Ambassador Davis to “regretfully” decline the requested interview.

Sources:  All documents come from the Central Foreign Policy Files, 1973-1979/Electronic Telegrams (NAID 654098), RG 59: General Records of the Department of State, accessible through the Access to Archival Databases (AAD) site.  The telegrams can be viewed online from the “Diplomatic Records” page using the message reference number (e.g. – 1977STATE138854) as the search term.  See 1977BERN03198, 1977MOSCOW10191, and 1977STATE 165916

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