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E. Korry, 81; U.S. Envoy to Chile in Allende Era

January 31, 2003|From the Washington Post

Edward M. Korry, a former ambassador to Chile who in the 1970s was a central figure in media accounts of U.S. covert action against Chile's Marxist president, Salvador Allende, has died. He was 81.

Korry died of cancer Wednesday at his home in Charlotte, N.C.

A former ambassador to Ethiopia, Korry also was European editor for Look magazine and a United Press correspondent in Europe after World War II. In 1972 and 1973, he was president of the Assn. of American Publishers and later was president of the United Nations Assn. of the United States.

But it was his service as ambassador to Chile from 1967 to 1971 that would thrust Korry into the media spotlight in 1975 when the Senate Intelligence Committee, headed by Sen. Frank Church (D-Idaho), began investigating the U.S. and CIA roles in plots to overthrow Allende.

Reports and documents from the committee depicted Korry as the "sponsor of a covert campaign against Allende," the Washington Post wrote in 1976. But Korry said the documents had been taken out of context and mixed with half-truths and lies to create a "false view of history."

But the media coverage was enough, he said, to ruin his public service career and make him unemployable in the media. From 1977 to 1979, he taught international relations at Connecticut College and from 1980 to 1982 he was a visiting scholar at Harvard's Center for International Studies.

In 1981, the New York Times, in what Time magazine called a "2,300-word correction," wrote that, although the Central Intelligence Agency had attempted to orchestrate a military takeover in Chile, "none of this, it is now evident, was known to Ambassador Korry."

Korry was born in New York City and graduated from Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Va. After college, he worked briefly as a news summarizer for NBC radio in New York, then joined United Press, which in 1947 sent him to London.

Later, he was assigned to Belgrade as the chief United Press correspondent for Eastern Europe. In 1948, he was the only U.S. reporter at the treason trial of the anti-communist Roman Catholic primate of Hungary, Cardinal Josef Mindszenty.

As a United Press correspondent in Greece, he helped bring about the release and return to relatives of refugee children captured in the civil war.

He was European editor of Look magazine from 1954 to 1960. In this period, he wrote extensively about liberation movements in Africa and interviewed Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev.

In 1962, he began his government career as a member of the promotion panel that reviewed the performance of senior Foreign Service officers.

President John F. Kennedy appointed him ambassador to Ethiopia in 1963. In 1967, President Lyndon B. Johnson named him ambassador to Chile, and in 1969, President Richard M. Nixon asked him to remain in that position. After his replacement in Chile in 1971, he served briefly as a special advisor to Overseas Private Investment Corp.

Korry was a founding director of the Committee for East-West Relations and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Survivors include his wife of 52 years, Patricia Korry of Charlotte; four children, Kelly Korry of Mesa, Ariz., Edward Korry of Warwick, R.I., Deborah Simcox of Englewood, N.J., and Alexandra Korry of New York; and six grandchildren.

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