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Russian for Hello

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Posted Monday, May 16, 1949

In a fourth-floor office of the State Department this week, busy aides thumbed diligently through top-secret policy papers on German-Austrian affairs. George Kennan, expert on U.S.-Soviet policies, slipped off to a secret sanctum where he could think things through beyond the reach of visitors and telephones. In other offices, other State Department experts put their heads together and seriously pretended that they were Russians. If they were, what would they plan to do next?

This Thursday, by the U.S.S.R.'s promise, the Berlin blockade will be lifted. Eleven days later, the Council of Foreign Ministers will meet in Paris to discuss the future of Germany (see INTERNATIONAL). U.S. officialdom this week was like a man who had been pushing against a door which someone had been holding shut from the other side. Now, suddenly, the door was thrown open. There, nodding and smiling enigmatically, was the U.S.S.R.

Whatever Russia's future intentions, the events of last week had produced the most dramatic break yet in the long cold war. It was the climax to a strange new pattern in diplomatic tactics, which had casually begun in the U.N. delegates' lounge at Lake Success and had come to a head a fortnight ago with the first hint of U.S.-Russian agreement on Berlin.

By Subway. On Monday of last week, a thin-nosed man with a humorously etched face, wearing crepe-soled sport shoes and a rumpled brown suit, got out of the plane which had flown him from Washington to New York. He sped by car to 2 Park Avenue, headquarters for the U.S. delegation to U.N. There at his desk he wrote a letter. He was Dr. Philip Jessup, onetime college professor and the State Department's top negotiator. He gave the letter to an aide, Albert Bender, to deliver to Yakov Malik, of the Russian U.N. delegation.

By Lexington Avenue subway Bender rode up to 68th Street. He walked into a stone mansion at 680 Park Avenue. Some children, playing in the hall, shouted "Zdravstvuite," Russian for "Hello." The mansion was the Soviet U.N. delegation's headquarters. Bender presented Dr. Jes-sup's letter.

By Telephone. That evening and through the next day Jessup waited for his reply. In other offices in Manhattan, France's Jean Chauvel and Britain's Alexander Cadogan also waited. At 6 p.m. on Tuesday, a little man named O. A. Tro-yanovsky, whose father had been the

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