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June 25, 1967 – An Alexei Kosygin Press Conference, post-Glassboro Summit – NBC Radio Special program – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –
June 25, 1967 – Premier Alexei Kosygin holds a press conference before heading back to Moscow and at the conclusion of a three-day summit with President Johnson.
The Glassboro Summit Conference, usually just called the Glassboro Summit, was the 23–25 June 1967 meeting of the heads of government of the United States and the Soviet Union—President Lyndon B. Johnson and Premier Alexei Kosygin, respectively—for the purpose of discussing Soviet Union–United States relations in Glassboro, New Jersey. During the Arab–Israeli Six-Day War diplomatic contact and cooperation increased, leading some to hope for an improvement in the two countries’ relations. Some even hoped for joint cooperation on the Vietnam War. Although Johnson and Kosygin failed to reach agreement on anything important, the generally amicable atmosphere of the summit was referred to as the “Spirit of Glassboro” and was seen to have improved Soviet–US relations.
On 5 June 1967 the Six-Day War began between Israel and the Arab states. The war led to an increase in Soviet-US diplomatic contact and cooperation; there were some who hoped this could continue to help the US solve the Vietnam war and other pressing international issues. On June 10, 1967 Premier Alexei Kosygin wrote a letter to contact President Lyndon B. Johnson. The “hot line” message arrived at the White House to seek communication between the United States and the Soviet Union.
In their first meeting held on 23 June 1967 there were only four people present, Alexei Kosygin and Lyndon B. Johnson and their respective interpreters. The main subjects discussed between the two was the ongoing crisis in the Middle East and the Soviet-US arms race. Towards the end of the meeting, Johnson said he was willing to discuss a peace settlement regarding war in Vietnam; literally meaning dividing the country in half, one part communist another part capitalist. He assured Kosygin that the only reason for American bombing in North Vietnam was because of North Vietnamese intervention into South Vietnam. Johnson offered the Soviets to supervise the democratic election in South Vietnam in the aftermath of the war. Kosygin responded by returning to the original subject; the crisis in the Middle East. During their afternoon meeting, Kosygin told Johnson that he was recently in contact with Phạm Văn Đồng, the Prime Minister of North Vietnam, and that they had discussed the possibilities on putting an end to the war. The North Vietnamese reply came during Kosygin’s lunch with Johnson. Kosygin compared the Vietnam War with the Algerian War which ended when Charles de Gaulle’s France signed a peace treaty signifying the end of French colonization of Algeria; he believed this would happen to the United States if the war continued. He also made it very clear that the North Vietnamese would not give up their goal of a unified Vietnam that easily.
At the conclusion of the summit, Kosygin and LBJ went their separate ways and Alexei Kosygin held this almost 90 minute press conference to answer numerous questions. Here is that Press Conference.