World Food Prize Ambassador Quinn
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THE ARCHIVE OF AMBASSADOR KENNETH M. QUINN
FROM THE MISSISSIPPI TO THE MEKONG
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Dangling Out a Window 55 Stories Above First Avenue in Manhattan

25/10/85

Each October, as Amb. Quinn describes, the Secretary of State would move to New York City to spend a week conducting meetings with ministers and heads of state attending the United Nations General Assembly. As Deputy Executive Secretary of the State Department, Amb. Quinn oversaw the operation of the State Department staff, who were all housed with Secretary George Shultz on the 55th floor of the United Nations Plaza Hotel, right across First Avenue from the U.N. headquarters. During this period in 1985, a serious incident occurred in the Soviet Union, in which an American journalist was arrested and was being held. Anxious to resolve the matter, the Secretary needed to have a conversation with the American ambassador over the State Department’s secret secure satellite phone system. Due to the extreme stormy weather over New York, the satellite connection kept breaking up. In an effort to improve the reception, it soon becomes clear that the satellite dish will have to be held out an open window 55 floors above the street. The question then arises about how to secure the individual who has to keep crawling out increasing distances with over half of their body suspended beyond the window frame. 

© 2020 World Food Prize Ambassador Quinn. All rights reserved.