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Memorandum of Conversations, by the Director of the Office of United Nations Political and Security Affairs (Bancroft)1

top secret

Minutes of Meeting on Korea

Present: Ambassador Austin
Ambassador Gross
Mr. Rusk Mr. Allison
Mr. Bancroft

Mr. Rusk said that there were three present contingencies which were being worked on in Washington:

[Page 760]

The first of these was intervention by the Soviets or the Chinese Communists for the purpose of driving United Nations forces out of Korea or, more likely, to ensure control of Korea north of the 38th parallel. The National Security Council paper provides that if the Chinese intervene we would continue fighting but would make an effort to minimize the attack on the Chinese. If the Soviets intervene our military position is that we do not want to fight the Soviet in Korea and therefore would take appropriate measures to safeguard our forces and prepare for a major war on the ground that Soviet intervention indicated their willingness to start the war. Mr. Rusk said that we do not think that either of these will happen. The indications are that the Chinese have made no preparations for civilian precautions in their cities.

The second contingency is a suit for peace by the North Koreans or a collapse of the North Korean forces. This would be on the assumption that the Soviet had cut the North Koreans loose and are letting them go forward on their own. He said there was no indication at this time of the likelihood of a suit for peace. In this event we would try to obtain as much of the General Assembly’s program as possible. The problem that faces us is not to commit ourselves to the war aim of a unified Korea, but at the same time to continue to seek United Nations action in favor of a united Korea. On this point the thinking in Washington is that we should let the Soviet make the decision for us as much as possible so that United Nations forces would carry on until we get some indication of Soviet reaction to their northward movement.

The third contingency is the orderly withdrawal of North Korean forces to the 38th parallel and the establishment of a formidable line at the 38th parallel. Mr. Rusk pointed out that if we were to permit that to be brought about, it would be a most indecisive conclusion in Korea because it would require substantial forces in South Korea and the North Koreans would have the chance to start the whole thing over again when they want to according to their own choice. At the same time Mr. Rusk pointed out that there is doubt in many minds in Washington if the Soviets will accept a result of the Korean conflict which puts them in a worse position than they were before it started. Furthermore, the question is raised as to what support we would get from other United Nations Members for going beyond the 38th parallel. The question is further complicated by the fact that neither we nor any other United Nations Member recognize the Republic of Korea as the government of all Korea but only of that part south of the 38th.

Mr. Rusk said that we may have to face the situation very soon and other governments will want to know our views as their own views [Page 761]will be dependent upon ours and upon the control that we have on the military situation.

Mr. Rusk said that as an interim measure they were thinking of having MacArthur send a communication to the North Korean military commander along the lines of the attached draft. This would provide a test to some extent of the Russian and North Korean attitude toward future phases in the military operations.

Mr. Rusk also said that they were working in the Pentagon on a more extensive program, which could later be put up to the President for his decision (Mr. Gross has copy).2 This paper is deficient in that it does not take into account the nature of United Nations action nor the parliamentary situation with which we would be faced in the United Nations and which we must meet in order to get maximum United Nations approval. Among questions which were raised are the type of consultation which should take place here in New York and with whom it should take place. If the consultants are those who have forces in North Korea, you are then faced with how to get India involved in them.

There followed some general discussion of Mr. Rusk’s remarks and of the papers which Mr. Rusk brought to the meeting. Ambassador Austin pointed out that in dealing with the Republic of Korea we must recognize that there are other interests involved: those of China, Russia, India, etc. He said in his view what the Russians want is a no-man’s-land line south of their territory which can be used for their own protection.

Mr. Gross asked if any thought had been given to the idea of a frontal approach to the Soviet representatives while Vyshinsky is here asking them point blank how they would like to liquidate the situation. Mr. Rusk replied that consideration had been given to that and what worried them about that approach was the probability that the Soviet reply would be to stick to the 38th parallel and with the military situation moving as rapidly as it is, we don’t want to have to negotiate with them on that point.

It was suggested that the Senator’s opening speech which he might have to make as soon as Wednesday of next week3 ought to point out what would be a good United Nations solution; namely, a free, united and rehabilitated Korea without committing ourselves as to what are our war aims.

Mr. Rusk said that one question which would arise very early in the debate would be the question of inviting the Chinese Communists as witnesses in Committee I. He said that one reason we could use [Page 762]for supporting their participation was the item which appeared in today’s Times to the effect that the Chinese Communists had admitted that they had sent battle-trained Korean troops from Manchuria to participate in the Korean war.4 It could be stated that the Committee should hear the explanation of the Chinese Communists of their willingness to let the Korean troops in.

Senator Austin agreed that we must grant the Chinese Communists a hearing in the Committee, but at the same time emphasize that such a hearing carries no indication that this is a first step toward the admission of Communist China as a United Nations Member.

The Senator also said that as far as the proposed communication from MacArthur was concerned he thought that it might be a little bit early in relation to the existing military situation. Mr. Rusk pointed out that it certainly couldn’t be used today but the situation might move very rapidly and we were simply preparing for the future.

Following a meeting with Senator Austin we then met with Dening and Graves of the United Kingdom Delegation. Mr. Dening said that the United Kingdom was very anxious to find out the United States views on the question of crossing the 38th parallel. He handed Mr. Rusk a resolution which the British were thinking about and to which they wanted our reaction.5 Mr. Dening also handed us two telegrams—one from Moscow and one from New Delhi which gave the reactions of the British Ambassador in Moscow and Pannikar’s views as to the probabilities of Soviet or Chinese intervention.

Mr. Rusk said that we were giving a lot of thought to the problems raised by Mr. Dening and suggested that he and Mr. Dening get together later this afternoon after Rusk had had a chance to-talk to the Secretary.

Harding F. Bancroft


To the Commander-in-Chief of the North Korean Forces: The defeat of your forces is at hand. In order that the decisions of the United Nations may be carried out with a minimum further loss of life and destruction to Korea, the United Nations Commander-in-Chief calls upon you and the forces under your command to lay down your arms in accordance with the following:

All North Korean forces shall lay down their arms and cease hostilities forthwith. The United Nations Commission on Korea shall arrange for the supervision of compliance with this condition. [Page 763]
North Korean civil authorities shall be responsible for maintaining law and order pending further instructions from United Nations authorities.
All United Nations prisoners of war and civilian internees under North Korean control should be immediately liberated and provision made for their protection, care, maintenance, and immediate transportation to places directed by the Commanding General of the Unified Command.
North Korean forces, including prisoners of war in the hands of United Nations forces, will be treated correctly and will be permitted by United Nations authorities to return to their homes as soon as practicable.
  1. Mr. Bancroft was an adviser on the U.S. Delegation to the 5th session of the U.N. General Assembly.
  2. Presumably the reference is to the draft “Program for Bringing Korean Hostilities to an End”; see the enclosure to the letter from Matthews to Burns, dated September 22, p. 756.
  3. September 27.
  4. In the item under reference, a spokesman of the Foreign Ministry in Peking was quoted as saying: “It is the proper right and sacred duty of Koreans in China to return to their fatherland to help in its defense and reconstruction. We shall forever stand on the side of the Korean people.” (The New York Times, September 23, 1950)
  5. See telegram Delga 27, September 23, from New York, p. 763.