501.BB Korea/1–648

President Truman to the Canadian Prime Minister (Mackenzie King)1

My Dear Mr. King: I appreciate very much your courtesy in sending Mr. Pearson to Washington to discuss the Korean matter with me and Mr. Lovett and Mr. Pearson’s full and frank presentation of your views.

It seems to me that the Korean matter itself is of considerably less importance than some of the fundamental considerations about which you have expressed anxiety. We do not minimize the seriousness of the [Page 1082] questions which you have raised with respect to the general world situation and the efforts of the United Nations to resolve some of the present difficulties. We also are concerned and preoccupied about these same subjects. It is precisely because of these broader questions that we are so concerned over the question of Canada’s association with the Korean Commission. Naturally, our two governments must give these larger questions careful study and will have many occasions during Canada’s membership on the Security Council to consult about them and to give expression to the great objectives which we share and which we have seen written into the Charter. While our two governments will probably be in agreement on most of these issues, it will be a result of full and free exercise of independent judgment by each of them.

It occurs to me that we shall be better able to deal dispassionately and constructively with these problems if we can in some way avoid the public speculation and irritation which must inevitably follow from Canada’s absence from the Korean Commission to which she was elected at the recent General Assembly session. Although your participation in this Commission might have occasioned the expression of your concern to us, I believe you would agree that the real issues you have raised go much deeper.

We do not expect the work of the Korean Commission to lead to or to contribute to a clash with or even an intensification of the present tension with the U.S.S.R. I can assure you that we, on our part, are going to do everything we can to prevent this. It seems likely that the Commission will be denied entry to Northern Korea and that its work will be confined to Southern Korea where 20,000,000 of the 29,000,000 Koreans live. It is our hope that the work of this Commission will contribute to the ultimate establishment of a democratic government in Korea.

Canada’s part in the work of UN has been wholehearted, able and constructive. I am deeply concerned over the possibility that Canada’s failure to appoint a representative on the Korean Commission would be misunderstood and distorted out of all proportion to the modest importance of this temporary agency. I am fearful that it might be seized upon by persons in this country and elsewhere who are anxious to find grounds for opposing cooperative efforts to resolve urgent political and economic problems which confront the world and which must be solved if western civilization is to endure. I need hardly add that the U.S.S.R. would exploit Canada’s absence to the fullest in its propaganda.

While I understand and appreciate the difficulties which the Korean Commission presents for you, it is my earnest hope that you may find [Page 1083] it possible to appoint a Canadian representative, even if his role may be a relatively nominal one, in order to remove this comparatively unimportant element from the larger picture.

With warm personal regards and every good wish, I am

Sincerely yours,

Harry S. Truman
  1. Copy transmitted to the Department on January 6.