Harry S. Truman photo

The President's News Conference

August 23, 1951

THE PRESIDENT, Please be seated.

[1.] I have a statement or two here for you, which I think may clear up some questions you might be inclined to ask, so I will read them to you.

Q. Would you mind--

THE PRESIDENT. They will be in mimeographed form outside, Tony,1 and yes, I'll go slow. [Laughter]

Q. Thank you, sir.

THE PRESIDENT [Reading]. "General Ridway has reported to me, and has made public, the story of last night's episode in Kaesong. There is, of course, no truth in the Communist claim that a United Nations plane had bombed the Kaesong area. No United Nations aircraft were even in the vicinity at the time the alleged bombing took place. Whether any enemy aircraft were present is not clear, but the flimsy nature of the so-called evidence shown to the United Nations liaison officers makes it extremely doubtful that any bombing took place at all.

1 Ernest B. Vaccaro of the Associated Press.

"We do not know the purpose of this new Communist masquerade in Kaesong. The Communist liaison officer last night made certain statements about calling off further meetings in the armistice negotiations, but it is not clear whether he was referring to the meetings planned for today, to meetings for the next several days--or whether it is the Communist intention to back out of the armistice negotiations altogether.

"Until this is clarified, we cannot appraise the events of last night--except that they obviously were not calculated to move the negotiations forward toward an armistice."

[2.] Now, the next one is on Iran.

[Reading] "I have been most disappointed to learn of the suspension of the negotiations in Tehran between the British delegation and the Iranian Government, which we had hoped would lead to a settlement of the Iranian oil question.

"Since these conversations have been suspended rather than completely broken off, it remains my hope that a solution will eventually be found agreeable to both parties. It has been clear during the course of negotiations that both Iran and Great Britain sincerely desire a settlement, and in view of this fact I am confident that an arrangement can ultimately be worked out.

"Mr. Harriman has worked long and tirelessly in an effort to bring the parties together, and to set the stage for a settlement, and his activities have had my complete support. His letter to Prime Minister Mosadeq of August 21 summarizes very clearly the American point of view on the steps which led to the suspension of the conversations and the views that Mr. Harriman put forward reflect my own and the State Department's."

[3.] Now, I want to make a certain other matter clear, about which there has been a great many statements, due to misunderstanding, in the House and the Senate.

[Reading] "I would like to clear up a lot of misinformation about the Government's very important industry dispersal program.

"The program has been misrepresented by critics who have mistaken it for something else. The opponents are criticizing supposed efforts to move industry and labor from one part of the country to another. That is not the Government's plan. Our program has no relationship to the Rains amendment, which intended widespread dispersal of plants.

"Our program, which was carefully described by the National Security Resources Board recently, does not tell any industry or individual where to locate. It does not propose moving of existing plants, wherever they may be. It merely encourages the spacing of new defense and defense-supporting industries a few miles apart.

"Under this program, defense plants and basic industries can, if they wish, find dispersed sites around the existing industrial centers as Detroit or New York, Pittsburgh or San Francisco. The program merely suggests that in building a new plant in such areas, the site of the new plant should be located a few miles away from other defense plants in the same locality. On the other hand, the program does nothing to interfere with the normal effects of nonindustrial areas to attract businesses.

"This is a commonsense program which serves the national security in the atomic age and is consistent with the American system of competitive free enterprise. I urge every Member of Congress, every industrialist, and every labor representative to take the time to read this program. They will find it economically sound and adaptable to any State or industrial area." 2

2 See Item 189.

Had the report been carefully read, there would have been no argument about it.

Now, ask any questions, I will be glad to try to answer them.

[4.] Q. Mr. President, I would like to ask if you are still hopeful for the nomination of your candidate for the Republican presidential nomination? 3

THE PRESIDENT. I have no further comment to make on that.

3See Item 188 [1].

[5.] Q. Mr. President, Quartermaster General--General Feldman reaches the retirement age of 62 on September 10, and he reportedly would like to stay on for 2 years, but to do so he would have to be lieutenant general. Do you have any intention of promoting him to that rank?

THE PRESIDENT. I never heard of it before. It hasn't been put up to me.

[6.] Q. Mr. President, last week you said there was no indication that the Japanese peace treaty would fail to be signed in San Francisco due to Russian attendance at the Conference. Is that situation still the same?

THE PRESIDENT. That's the way I feel about it. [Pause]

Those statements must have taken all the wind out of your sails. [Laughter]

Q. We're writing, sir.

[7.] Q. Mr. President, will Mr. Harriman 4 stay in Tehran, or will he now return?

THE PRESIDENT. Mr. Harriman is coming home.

4W. Averell Harriman, Special Assistant to the President.

Q. Immediately?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes. He will be home in about a week.

[8.] Q. Mr. President, what happens if the Communists really break off the cease-fire talks?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, we will meet that situation when it comes about.

[9.] Q. Mr. President, have you had an opportunity to formulate your report on the West Point-Annapolis.-

THE PRESIDENT. I don't intend to formulate any report. I am making an investigation of conditions, with the idea of curing the patient, not killing him. 5

5 See Item 188 [14].

[10.] Q. Mr. President, Mr. Leander Perez, head of the States rights movement, said the other day that he is confident that you will be defeated if you run next year. Do you believe he should be so confident?

THE PRESIDENT. Everybody has a right to his guess. They made a lot of guesses in 1948. [Laughter]

Q. Mr. President--

[11.] Q. Is there any plan to send Mr. Harriman back to Iran or--

THE PRESIDENT. Well, we hope that the negotiations will be resumed. If they want the services of Mr. Harriman, undoubtedly he would be able to go.

Did you want to ask a question, Duke? 6

6 Duke Shoop of the Kansas City Star.

[12.] Q. Do you arrive in Kansas City the 4th or the 5th--we fly out--

THE PRESIDENT. If conditions are favorable, I hope to arrive there on the 5th, Duke--be there the rest of the week.

[13.] Q. Mr. President, have you heard anything recently about the condition of Secretary Hull? 7

THE PRESIDENT. No, I haven't not right recently. I heard from him about 2 weeks ago. He was getting along all right then.

7 Cordell Hull, former Secretary of State.

[14.] Q. Mr. President, there are some rumors that Mr. Harriman might go to Egypt for some negotiations there. Is there anything you can say about them ?

THE PRESIDENT. I haven't heard about that. He seems to be in great demand now. [Laughter] Very capable person.

Reporter: Thank you, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT. That's all right.

Note: President Truman's two hundred and seventy-sixth news conference was held in the Indian Treaty Room (Room 474) in the Executive Office Building at 4 p.m. on Thursday, August 23, 1951.

Harry S. Truman, The President's News Conference Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/230647

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