740.00119 Control (Korea)/6–147: Telegram

The Political Adviser in Korea (Langdon) to the Secretary of State


136. Cite ZPOL 749. Summary of 28th meeting Joint Commission May 31, General Shtikov presiding, follows:

Meeting opened with Soviet proposal to rewrite decision number 2 relating to press relations on ground of alleged unfair press coverage of preceding sessions. This would add second article to the decision to read “each Chief Commissioner in his discretion may meet the press to inform them of the work of the Commission within the limits of the agreements reached in the Commission in order not to divulge material of a secret nature.” General Brown explained he was not responsible for speculative press reports and could not remedy them unless allowed some latitude to give correspondents an idea of what was going on. Debate followed until Brown suggested that all meetings be opened to the press or that an official Commission spokesman be designated. As this was new question, Shtikov said, he was not prepared to discuss it, but was merely seeking to prevent publication of open questions. Finally agreement was reached to rewrite pertinent passage of decision to read “the Joint Commission issues joint bulletins after each session and publishes detailed joint communiqués after the settlement of each major question or at other times decided by the Commission. The heads of the corresponding delegations at their discretion may conduct press conferences to inform the representatives of the press of the work of the Joint Commission within the limits of the joint bulletins and communiqués agreed upon and on other matters not of secret nature”.

Shtikov next read statement of the Soviet position concerning consultation, gist of which follows:

The Moscow agreement aims to attract Koreans to consultation so that Commission’s recommendations will interpret Korean aspirations. The order of consultation therefore is all-important in the right solution of the Commission’s task, which is the creation of the provisional govt. The current American position is not in accord with that of last year when, in opposition to the Soviet desire for broad consultation, it insisted on limiting oral consultation to 30 parties from north and south with written recommendations only from parties with inconsiderable membership. Soviets in Subcommission have defended last year’s agreement in the interest of time saving, not for any other purpose. Soviet delegation notes with satisfaction American purpose to broaden consultation, but does not understand reason for new criteria [Page 659] for consultation, namely that parties must have membership of over 1,000 and branches in two or more provinces as delegation does not realize perhaps the work this would involve. For example, in the north the Democratic Party has 245,000 members and the Protestant Association 6,000 members. On the American basis of one representative per thousand, 251 representatives would have to be consulted. How could the Commission handle this huge volume of work? The Soviet delegation has given thought to the question of how to attract widest consultation and thinks a party’s influence in society ought to be the ruling factor. Membership from 10,000 to 20,000 would omit many parties. As for inclusion of three conditions of consultation stipulated in Hodge letter of December 24, General Brown considers that they are not complete in themselves but must be supplemented by passages in Marshall–Molotov exchanges. Why does the American delegation now object to inclusion in the order of consultation of these three conditions? Does it disagree with them or with the Foreign Ministers’ acceptance thereof. American delegation constantly alludes to freedom of opinion. Why throw this at the Soviet delegation which itself likewise defends freedom of opinion? Soviet delegation thinks three points do not impinge on this freedom but uphold it, and therefore insists on making the three points part of the decision on order of consultation. It has no objection to the American idea of publishing the whole Foreign Ministers’ correspondence. Concluding this position Shtikov moved (1) to charge Subcommission to determine number of parties to be consulted and principles of consultation; (2) to announce three Hodge conditions for consultation; (3) to publish forthwith invitation to Korean parties to sign declaration contained in communiqué number 5 and annexed questionnaires on structure and principles of organization of provisional govt and on political platform thereof.

Shtikov then read draft of his press communiqué embodying item (3) above, with June 10 as deadline for parties to sign declaration. General Brown stated the Soviet paper required study but in general provided considerable basis for solution of the question. Thereupon Shtikov pressed for publication of his communiqué, but Brown declined to publish anything on consultation until agreement had been reached on the number of parties to be consulted. Shtikov then pleaded for earliest publication solely in the interest of speed, since Molotov in his April 19 letter had charged the Commission with preparing recommendations by July or August, and argued publication now would have excellent results on Commission’s work. Brown said he appreciated need of speed and therefore best way to go about it was to reach basic agreement on number of parties to be consulted and [Page 660] method of consultation. At this point Shtikov asked how many parties Brown had in mind. Brown replied the Moscow agreement required all parties to be consulted but, bearing in mind there were parties with membership as low as 25, it was necessary to set certain practical standards for consultation, which was the basis for our present proposed criteria. He was willing, however, to consider any other criteria the Soviets might have in mind and was only interested in coming to an agreement on criteria. After implying once more that we were seeking to disengage ourselves from last year’s agreement, Shtikov again averred that his proposal was not to limit the number of parties to be consulted. He added (this was quite new) that after all the signed declarations were received we would have the opportunity to decide which signees to consult orally. Brown then stated categorically we did not feel bound by last year’s proceedings on this question, as there had been no conclusive agreement on it, and that unless we could come to an agreement on consultation there could never be any consultation. Brown added that Shtikov was wrong in saying that those who signed would be consulted as our later decision might well bar some signatories. Shtikov defended last year’s work, denies the Commission was [apparent omission] 20 and repeated some of his arguments. As to the idea that there might never be consultation if no agreement was reached, it must be put aside, as the Foreign Ministers had decided the Commission must submit its recommendations and therefore agreement must be reached and the Koreans consulted. Shtikov disputed the charge he was wrong in saying those who signed would be consulted, since the text of the Marshall–Molotov correspondence said signing would be considered, [apparent omission] (Hodge point number 1). Thereupon Brown asked if he would agree to consult all parties which signed. Shtikov thought this was elaborating on the conditions fixed by the Foreign Ministers. Brown then said the discussion was without any point as if Soviets were willing to consult all parties why set 30 as the limit? Shtikov then chuckled and said the limit of 30 was our last year’s brain child and not his and if we no longer liked it he agreed not to name limited number. But he pleaded for publication now of the invitation in communiqué number 5 and of the two questionnaires. Brown accordingly proposed, in view of Soviet willingness to eliminate the 30 limitation of parties to be orally consulted, that Subcommission iron out remaining differences and complete the agreement on order of consultation (decision number 4) for approval at next meeting June 2. Shtikov agreed and meeting adjourned.

I have reported this meeting in some detail in order to reflect the progressive collapse of the stubborn defense in Subcommission of [Page 661] restrictive oral consultation and the complete surrender, in the record at least, to our insistence on leaving the question open. What the future Soviet tactics will be remains to be seen, but yesterday’s meeting gives the definite impression that the Soviet delegation is under some driving compulsion to complete something concrete in the way of plans for provisional govt within the next 2 months.