320/1–451: Telegram

The United States Representative at the United Nations ( Austin ) to the Secretary of State

secret   priority

Delga 485. Korea. Ross and Noyes called on L. B. Pearson (Canada). The cease-fire group had met for two hours and revised the text of its principles. The revised text which was given to us confidentially is as follows.

“The following stages should be progressively achieved from cease-fire in Korea to a peaceful settlement by discussion and negotiation of Far Eastern problems. [Page 19]

  • “1. Cease-fire in Korea. The object of such a cease-fire is to prevent needless destruction of life and property while other steps are being taken to restore peace. No cease-fire arrangement can be called satisfactory unless it contains adequate safeguards, under United Nations’ auspices, for securing that it will not be used for mounting a new offensive.
  • “2. If and when a cease-fire occurs in Korea, either as a result of a formal arrangement or, indeed, as a result of a lull in hostilities pending some such arrangement, advantage should be taken of it to pursue consideration of the further steps to be taken for the restoration of peace.
  • “3. The General Assembly has already decided, unanimously, that Korea is to be a unified, independent, democratic sovereign state with a constitution and a government based on free popular elections. This will necessitate the withdrawal, by appropriate stages, of all non-Korean armed forces from Korea and the creation by the United Nations of machinery whereby the Korean people can express their own free will in respect of their future government.
  • “4. Pending the completion of the steps referred to in the preceding paragraph, interim arrangements will be made by the United Nations for the administration of Korea and the maintenance of peace and security there.
  • “5. The Governments of the United States and the United Kingdom have already announced (on December 8, 1950) that they would seek, with the Soviet and Peking Governments, through whatever channels that may be open to them, a peaceful settlement of existing issues. The General Assembly should, therefore, set up an appropriate body, which would include the representatives of these four governments, with a view to achieving such a settlement for issues affecting the Far East.”

Pearson indicated that Rau had not yet received instructions permitting him to join in putting forward these principles. He was pessimistic that Rau would have received such instructions by tomorrow afternoon. He thought it was just possible that Rau would feel able to join in putting forward these principles in the form of a working paper, indicating that the committee took no responsibility but simply was giving the Assembly the benefit of its tentative thinking. If this were done, it would be up to the committee to use this material in any way it saw fit, presumably by working it into a resolution.

Pearson thought of this tactic as primarily designed to give the Chinese the feeling that every conceivable effort had been made to find a peaceful solution. If the Chinese Communists rejected such a plausible and fair proposal, he thought the Asians would be much more ready to take a strong step. He was quite clear that the Chinese Communists would reject these principles out of hand.

Ross took strong exception to paragraph 3 on the ground that no [Page 20] distinction was made between the moral and legal basis for the presence of UN forces in Korea, as opposed to Chinese forces. The language was open to the construction that both forces should be withdrawn gradually by proportionate reductions on both sides of the line. This was unacceptable to US. He pointed out that it is being charged that the UN forces and the US forces are the aggressors in the situation and it is essential that this claim not be given any credence whatever. He pointed out that the October 7 resolution1 indicated UN policy as to when and under what circumstances its forces should be withdrawn from Korea. The six-power resolution which received nine votes in the SC called for the immediate withdrawal of Chinese Communist troops. He thought it highly unwise for the UN to give up a point of principle of this importance in the way suggested.

Pearson refused to admit that the paragraph as drafted would have these results. He pointed out that under the language the UN could continue to insist that Chinese troops withdraw first. He thought the Chinese would see the text in this way and would therefore refuse it. He did not want to put forward a text which would have the results we had pictured. He suggested that we attempt to rewrite paragraph 3 to see if we can find language which would be satisfactory. He was not optimistic that the committee could accept such new language. He said he thought he should inform Sir Benegal Rau immediately that the US took very serious objection to paragraph 3 as written. Ross agreed.

Pearson was given a copy of our memorandum and read it hurriedly. He accepted this as an important new element in the situation and expressed the view that he might not wish to take any further steps along the lines of the five principles after he had given it careful consideration.

Ross explained our general position and our anxiety to maintain the unity of the free world and therefore to negotiate more fully and carefully with our friends to find a common program of action. He made it clear that although we might be reluctant to go along with the Cease-fire Committee’s principles, if it were necessary to maintain unity and to obtain support for the type of stronger program which we felt was essential, we might be prepared to do it. He emphasized that it was of importance to us to consider these matters as part of a two-stage program both parts of which should be discussed and agreed to at the same time. Pearson thought this was sensible but seemed to be doubtful that we would obtain such commitments from some of the Asian states.

Ross mentioned that the Israeli were still interested in their own resolution and that he had tried to dissuade them from putting it [Page 21] forward. He indicated that of the alternative suggestions for an intermediate step we felt that the least difficult was the type of procedure envisaged in the Cease-fire Committee’s putting forward a supplemental report which would be approved by the committee.

Pearson indicated he and Sir Benegal were hoping to go to London on Saturday2 for a few days. He said he would not want to leave if he thought that the committee would take up a resolution such as the one we had proposed. We indicated we hoped we could get to this in the committee by early next week.

We agreed to meet with Pearson again in the morning.