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LBJ urges Soviets to leave Czech soil

WASHINGTON, Aug. 21, 1968 (UPI) - President Johnson today called on the Soviet Union and its Communist allies to withdraw their troops from Czechoslovakia. He said "it is never too late for reason to prevail." "It is a sad commentary on the Communist mind that a sign of liberty in Czechoslovakia is deemed a fundamental threat to the security of the Soviet system."

He said the "tragic news" about the military intervention in Czechoslovakia "shocks the conscience of the world."

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"The excuses offered by the Soviet Union are patently contrived. The Czechoslovakia Government did not request its allies to intervene in its internal affairs. No external aggression threatened Czechoslovakia," Johnson said.

The president said the action by the Warsaw Pact allies was a "flat violation" of the United Nations charter and as a result the U.S. Government was urgently consulting other nations to consider what steps should be taken in the United Nations.

Johnson said U.N. Ambassador George Ball had been instructed to join with other nations in the Security Council "to insist upon the charter rights of Czechoslovakia and its people."

"Meanwhile, in the name of mankind's hope for peace, I call on the Soviet Union and its associates to withdraw their troops from Czechoslovakia."

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The President was up until 3:15 a.m. conferring with some of his aides before he strode grim-faced toward his White House bedroom.

Officials faced a specter they had believed dead - the two nuclear giants once again glowering at each other across a suddenly more significant Iron Curtain.

Johnson held a 55-minute meeting of his National Security Council late last night after learning from Soviet Ambassador Anatoly F. Dobrynin of the armed intervention.

After the President's meeting with the council, Secretary of State Dean Rusk called Dobrynin to the State Department for a 15-minute premidnight lecture on what the Russians were doing to Moscow-Washington relations and world order.

Members of Congress called for a special session of the U.N. Security Council to demand an explanation of the Soviet-led invasion.

House Republican Leader Gerald R. Ford coupled his U.N. proposal with a declaration that the United States "should not become involved in this Communist family fight."

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