Memorandum by the Officer in Charge of General Assembly Affairs ( Popper ) to the Assistant Secretary of State for United Nations Affairs ( Hickerson )1


Subject: Military Assistance for Korea

On February 13th a meeting was held with the Department of Defense2 concerning the possibility of securing additional military assistance for Korea. It was then agreed that the Department of State should approach the representatives of a number of countries where there was some possibility of securing additional assistance. As a result of the decisions taken in that meeting, approaches have been made to a number of governments and the following progress can be reported:

American Republics

Cuba—The President of Cuba3 has asked the Congress for authorization to send a battalion to Korea rather than a company as originally offered. This request has evoked considerable criticism among the opponents of the present administration, including Ambassador Belt,4 formerly the Cuban Representative to the United Nations. A special session of the Cuban Congress convened on February 26 and has been considering the President’s request. The Cuban desk officer5 doubts that Congress will give its approval during the special session, but he believes that authorization is more probable during the regular session of Congress which is scheduled to convene on March 19.

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Colombia—Colombia has been training one battalion for service in Korea. This battalion was originally scheduled to complete its training in Colombia by May 15. However, the Department received a telegram on March 136 requesting that arrangements be made for the battalion to leave Colombia as soon as possible. If arrangements are made to transport this unit from Colombia before May 15, it will be necessary to give this unit additional training. This brings up the question as to the availability of transportation at this time. Further, it has not been decided where the Colombian unit would be sent for additional training.

Mexico—Mr. Mann spoke to both the Foreign Minister7 and Under Secretary of Foreign Affairs of Mexico during his recent visit to Mexico City, and after his return, took the matter up further with the Embassy in Washington. It was agreed that the public in Mexico was not conditioned to the idea of Mexico furnishing ground troops to Korea and that therefore any possibility of assistance at this time was remote.

Brazil—During discussions between Assistant Secretary of State Miller and the newly appointed Foreign Minister,8 the Foreign Minister raised the issue of assistance to the United Nations in Korea. He indicated that Brazil was seriously considering furnishing assistance commensurate with Brazil’s international prestige. He cited the possibility of furnishing an entire division. In preparation for any such steps, it would be desirable to condition public opinion in Brazil, and the Foreign Minister requested the assistance of the United States Embassy. The Bureau of Inter-American Affairs is working with the Pentagon on this matter, and in particular is planning for a speech by General Bolte which could be translated into Portuguese and given broad publicity. The discussions will be continued at the forthcoming meeting of the Foreign Ministers in Washington. It seems advisable to concentrate on Brazil in the efforts to secure assistance from Latin America because of the possibility of a large size Brazilian contribution and because of the extensive amount of American equipment the Brazilian army already possesses.

Uruguay—Mr. Miller, during his recent visit to Montevideo, discussed the matter with the Foreign Minister9 who stated that his government was still anxious to have Uruguay send a battalion to Korea. However, the opposition party was bitterly attacking any such project. Mr. Miller, with the consent of the Foreign Minister, spoke to the leader of the opposition. The leader of the opposition proclaimed his complete support of the United States, but at the same time stated his [Page 1010] opposition to sending Uruguayan troops to Korea. Since the general status of public opinion in Uruguay is lukewarm, it seems unlikely that the Government could secure in the near future the necessary authorization from the Uruguayan Congress.

Chile and Peru—Mr. Miller brought up the question of assistance for Korea with the Foreign Offices in both Chile and Peru, but received a lukewarm response.

Argentina—Due to existing political conditions, Mr. Miller found it advisable not to discuss the matter. There had previously been some discussion of the possibility of an offer from the Government of Argentina of two air force contingents. The Assistant [sic] Secretary of Defense10 in a letter dated March 9th11 indicated that, even though the tactical value of Argentine squadrons would be nominal in Korea, the Joint Chiefs of Staff would accede to loaning suitable aircraft on the premise that the action might be a lever for securing substantial Latin American ground forces from Argentina and from the other Republics. ARA has indicated informally that nothing further should be done to secure such an offer from Argentina at this time because of the unfavorable political situation and because of its doubts that the furnishing of two Argentine squadrons would in fact lead to the result desired by the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

[Here follows discussion of the progress of United States efforts to secure additional military assistance for Korea from certain nations other than the American Republics.]

  1. Drafted by the Officer in Charge, International Security Affairs, Onice of United Nations Political and Security Affairs (Bechhoefer).
  2. This meeting took place at the Department of State; a copy of the minutes of the meeting, dated February 16, 1951, is filed under Department of State decimal file number 795.00/2–1651.
  3. Carlos Prío Socarrás.
  4. Guillermo Belt, Cuban Ambassador to the United States, 1944–1949.
  5. Harvey R. Wellman.
  6. Apparent reference to telegram 666, from Bogotá, March 12, 1951, not printed (363/3–1251).
  7. Manuel Tello, Acting Foreign Minister.
  8. João Neves da Fontoura.
  9. Alberto Domínguez Cámpora.
  10. Robert A Lovett, Deputy Secretary of Defense.
  11. Not printed (795B.5/3–951).