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The Deputy Under Secretary of State ( Matthews ) to the Special Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Foreign Military Affairs and Assistance ( Burns )

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Dear General Burns: If the amphibious operations now in progress in Korea are successful, it is likely that in the very near future there will be either (1) Soviet or Chinese Communist direct intervention, or (2) a suit for peace or an armistice by the North Koreans. NSC 81/11 clearly sets forth the action to be taken in the event of Chinese Communist or Soviet intervention. However, it does not as clearly set forth the immediate action to be taken in the event the North Koreans sue for peace or armistice. It is, therefore, considered a matter of urgency that a decision be made as to the immediate reply to be made by the Commanding General of the Unified Command to any suit for peace or offer of cease fire which may be received prior to the conclusion of the discussions provided for in paragraph 23 of NSC 81/1.

This problem has two phases—1) immediate armistice terms, and 2) eventual peace terms. This letter concerns only the former. In the event the North Korean authorities should directly or indirectly approach the UN or any government participating in the present operations in Korea with a request for peace terms or a cease fire agreement, they should be informed by whatever means may be appropriate that a cease fire agreement is a purely military matter and accordingly they should communicate their offer to the Commanding General of the Unified Command, who is the appropriate representative to negotiate [Page 732]any armistice or cease fire agreement. The Commanding General will look to the United States Government for appropriate instructions and the United States Government will be guided by any relevant decisions of the Security Council. The question of eventual peace terms is a matter for UN decision. However, armistice terms should, to the maximum possible extent, anticipate the eventual peace terms. Therefore, the United States Government should advise the Commanding General of the Unified Command for his guidance of the general principles which this Government considers should be embodied, in any cease fire or armistice arrangement granted by him. Subject, of course, to changing military factors such principles might include the following measures for the consideration of the Departments of State and Defense:

All North Korean forces, regular and irregular, wherever situated, to cease hostilities forthwith and to comply with all military requirements which may be imposed by the Commanding General of the Unified Command in connection with the armistice or cease fire agreement.
All North Korean forces, south of 38°, shall be interned by UN forces pending a UN decision on peace terms.
Teams of UN forces shall be permitted to enter territory north of 38° for the purpose of supervising the disarmament of North Korean forces in that territory but such forces shall not be interned.
Pending the establishment of UN peace terms, the North Korean civil authorities shall be held responsible for maintenance of law and order in the area north of 38°. For this purpose the Commanding General of the Unified Command may permit a limited number of civil police to retain such arms as may be determined by him.
All UN prisoners of war and civilian internees now under North Korean control are to be liberated at once and provision made for their protection, care, maintenance and immediate transportation to places directed by the Commanding General of the Unified Command.

It is suggested that the Department of Defense may wish to consider the foregoing with the view to the establishment by both Departments of a position to be communicated to the Commanding General of the Unified Command in the event of a sudden North Korean collapse pending the conclusion of discussions with friendly members of the UN of terms to be offered to North Korean forces as provided by paragraph 23 of NSC 81/1.

Sincerely yours,

H. Freeman Matthews
  1. Bated September 9, p. 712.