Memorandum of Conversation, by the Ambassador at Large (Jessup)


Participants: Sir Oliver Franks, British Ambassador
Ambassador Philip C. Jessup

Sir Oliver came to see me this morning and left with me the attached message from Mr. Bevin.

Sir Oliver said that the only thing which he had omitted from the original message was a sentence at the end of paragraph 2 which left it to his discretion whether or not he should make the representation contained in the last sentence of that paragraph. The sentence in [Page 931] question requests that there should be prior consultation between the United States and British Governments before any authorization might be given to General MacArthur to take reprisals against the Chinese Communists outside of Korea in the event of active Chinese intervention in Korea.

Sir Oliver said that he felt that it was appropriate to make this representation about prior consultation not only on general grounds, but also because technically they had a right to do so since General MacArthur is acting as U.N. Commander and the British have forces participating under his command. Sir Oliver wished to make it plain, however, that he did not want to put the matter on the basis of a “right” but rather on the basis of normal consultation between the two Governments on an important matter of common interest.

Sir Oliver also commented on paragraph 5 (b), noting that he had not changed the rather abrupt form of expression, although he said that he personally might have put the point a little differently. He concluded with the request that the U.K. Government’s views be communicated to the President. I told him that I would be glad to do so.

Philip C. Jessup



Message From Mr. Bevin to Sir Oliver Franks Dated 11th October, 1950

I have read an account of a broadcast by General Kim Il Sung, Premier of North Korea, in which, according to the translation, he said “The Korean People are not standing alone in our struggle and are receiving the absolute support of the Soviet Union, the Chinese People, etc.” I have also seen a statement issued by the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Peking on October 10th to the effect that the Chinese could not stand idly by in the event of the crossing of the 38th parallel on a large scale.1

2. The North Korean statement seems to show that they have no intention of responding to General MacArthur’s appeal for surrender. Both statements are no doubt intended mainly for internal consumption, in North Korea and in China respectively, but in view of President Truman’s impending meeting with General MacArthur I consider it of the highest importance that there should be no doubt whatsoever [Page 932] in the mind of the United States Government about our view of the serious consequences that would flow from Chinese intervention in Korea. It is not possible to assess the prospects of such intervention. Whilst we cannot take Chinese statements at their face value, it is equally impossible to discount them completely. But should they in fact intervene openly I consider it vital that General MacArthur should not take reprisals against them outside Korean territory without express sanction from President Truman. I should of course like to be sure that this sanction would not be given without prior consultation between the United States Government and His Majesty’s Government.

3. We hope and trust that the United Nations Forces are on the point of consolidating their brilliant military victory. No one can foretell how Korea will develop in the more distance future but if our military successes are consolidated and if there is no outside intervention by China or by Russia then the way will be clear for the United Nations to give Korea an opportunity to develop on democratic lines under a unified Government and with her economy restored and war damage made good. This will indeed be a great diplomatic victory for the United Nations, matching on the political front the striking successes achieved in the military field. But a false step on our part may force China into the war, with consequences which cannot be foreseen but which will certainly be of great gravity. India has done her best to restrain China and I think that the message from Mr. Acheson which Pandit Nehru transmitted to the Chinese about the bombing incident was wise and timely.2

4. It is, however, not quite clear whether the existing instructions to General MacArthur not to take action outside Korea would still stand in the event of Chinese intervention. We have complete trust in the President and rely on him to make General MacArthur aware of the great issues that hang on our conduct in Korea.

5. I am anxious that the views of His Majesty’s Government on these points should be made clear to the President before he meets General MacArthur. These are:—

the gravity of the situation that would arise in the event of Chinese intervention, and
the need for categorical instructions to General MacArthur that even in the event of such intervention he is not to take action outside Korea without the express orders of the President.
  1. See the editorial note under date of October 9 concerning General MacArthur’s second surrender demand to the North Korean forces, p. 913.
  2. See telegram 813, from New Delhi, received at 6:04 p. m. on September 30, p. 830.