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Foreign Relations of the United States, 1961–1963
Volume XXII, Northeast Asia, Document 167


167. Letter From President Kennedy to President ChiangSourceSource: Department of State, Presidential Correspondence: Lot 66 D 204, Kennedy/Johnson Correspondence with Chinese Officials. Secret. Filed with a covering note from Bundy to Brubeck requesting that it be shown to Yager before its transmittal by pouch. Transmitted to Taipei by pouch on February 15.

DEAR MR. PRESIDENT: Ambassador Kirk has just returned to Washington and has told me about a misunderstanding which he feels has needlessly complicated the channels of communication between our Governments. In these critical times, I feel strongly that it is of the utmost importance that these channels remain as clear as humanly possible. I have made a special effort in my Administration to insure that my Government speaks with one voice. Consequently, where it appears that there has been a failure of understanding, I am most anxious to take the measures necessary to overcome it.

Since Ambassador Kirk will be confined for a while in the hospital, I have directed [1-1/2 lines of source text not declassified] to discuss a proposal11. According to a March 5 memorandum [text not declassified] the proposal [text not declassified] reported on March 1 that he had discussed it with Chiang Ching-kuo on February 28. The memorandum indicates that the proposal was to send the C-123 planes at issue to Taiwan and that they would remain under U.S. control and ownership for use in South Vietnam with GRC crews; they would be used in mainland operations only in case of joint agreement. (Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Countries Series, China) The February 14 memorandum and the March 1 report have not been found. with your representative which I hope will satisfy the [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] needs of both our Governments. Later, Ambassador Kirk will return to his post in Taipei, and I hope you will be able to explore with him at some length and in some detail the larger issues which concern us both.

I know you feel as I do that between nations with such a historic friendship as ours, the greatest good is to be obtained through a frank and continuous discussion of common problems. Please consider that Ambassador Kirk is my personal representative in the most intimate sense and is unusually well equipped to carry on a frank exchange of views on my behalf.

I was especially happy to learn from Ambassador Kirk that you have fully regained your health and strength after your illness of last year.

Pending Ambassador Kirk's return to Taipei, do not hesitate to write me your thoughts through our Charge, Mr. Clough, to whom I am entrusting the delivery of this letter.

Sincerely,

John Kennedy

* Source: Department of State, Presidential Correspondence: Lot 66 D 204, Kennedy/Johnson Correspondence with Chinese Officials. Secret. Filed with a covering note from Bundy to Brubeck requesting that it be shown to Yager before its transmittal by pouch. Transmitted to Taipei by pouch on February 15.

1 According to a March 5 memorandum [text not declassified] the proposal [text not declassified] reported on March 1 that he had discussed it with Chiang Ching-kuo on February 28. The memorandum indicates that the proposal was to send the C-123 planes at issue to Taiwan and that they would remain under U.S. control and ownership for use in South Vietnam with GRC crews; they would be used in mainland operations only in case of joint agreement. (Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Countries Series, China) The February 14 memorandum and the March 1 report have not been found.