357.AD/1–351: Telegram

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

secret   priority

Delga 477. Korea—six-power meeting. Sponsors of the six-power resolution met in our offices this evening to consult on future steps. [Page 10] I explained that it was important for us to agree on procedures which we would follow in the forthcoming days, particularly with a view to maintaining the united front of the free world. The US had hoped that the Committee of Three1 would open a channel for a cease-fire and negotiations. We sincerely worked for and wished for their success. Events, however, have moved very fast. The six-power resolution was not as useful today as it had been when introduced. The Committee of Three could not arrange a cease-fire. The attack across the 38th parallel ended any hope that had existed. It was clearly their intent to drive the UN forces into the sea and they were flouting the charter and UN resolutions. They had forced our hand and basic decision was now required.

I suggested we ought to work on a new and stronger resolution which should condemn the aggressors; should find some substantial method of discouraging their further aggressions; should expose the fact that they cannot win and that in the long run persistence in their present course would result in serious damage to them.

Chauvel suggested that we might start with the six-power resolution and add to it elements contained in the second Asian resolution,2 and possibly the principles which the Committee of Three was prepared to put forward. Jebb3 read out the principles which he understood the Committee of Three were themselves prepared to put forward. He said that Rau favored these but could not put them forward without Nehru’s approval.

Jebb suggested that these principles might be put forward by the three in a supplemental report. Committee 1 might approve the report and instruct that it be telegraphed to Peiping; that if there is no response from Peiping in a reasonable time, the decks would be cleared for the withdrawal of the six-power resolution, as well as the second Asian resolution, and the introduction of a new and stronger resolution. He thought we would be more able to get support for a stronger resolution if this step were taken. The six points were roughly as follows:

Cease-fire was necessary to prevent needless destruction while efforts for peaceful settlement were being made, and the cease-fire should not be used by either party to prepare the mounting of a new offensive against the other party.
If a cease-fire is achieved and hostilities cease, advantage should be taken of it to consider further measures to consolidate the peace.
The UN has as its objective a unified, independent and democratic Korea in which the Korean people would, by elections, determine their own future.
It would be necessary to withdraw all armed forces from Korea by stages and to set up machinery by which Koreans could express their free will.
It would be necessary to make interim arrangements for governing Korea in the meantime.
The US and UK had already made it clear on December 8 that they were prepared to seek peaceful settlement of existing issues through whatever channels were open to them.4 UN should set up appropriate machinery so that this principle could be carried into effect by the UN.

Ambassador Sunde5 said that his impression from recent talk with Fawzi was that Asians would not support an aggression resolution at this time but that if a step of this nature were attempted and failed they might, with the exception of Indonesia and possibly India, be prepared to support a strong resolution.

Chauvel stated he thought it might be difficult for a great many delegates to support now a strong resolution. He favored the course outlined by Jebb. (We were informed privately by Lacoste6 that present French instructions would not allow them to support a finding of aggression; that they would be required to abstain).

I stated that whatever action we took should uphold the three objectives which we all had in mind: Save as many lives as possible in Korea; carry out UN purposes of stopping aggression; support UN objectives of unified, independent and democratic government without domination by any of its neighbors and with the backing of the UN. We could not abandon these objectives without abandoning the UN itself. We did not insist on immediate strong action. We were prepared to work for unity and to make concessions to it. I thought it was absolutely essential that we should not place the Chinese Communist armed forces in the same position as the forces of the UN. To do this would be a fundamental moral failure. The US and the UN are being charged with aggression; it is of great importance that these charges be given no credence whatever; that they be rejected. We were willing to consider going along with our friends on an intermediate step if it is absolutely necessary. We must nevertheless maintain our principles intact. We must not take a step backward. I considered the security of the world better protected by strong action than by weak.

[Page 12]

Jebb said that it would be extremely serious for the countries bordering on Russia to name the Chinese Communists as aggressors. He mentioned Sweden and said Sweden was under instructions to vote against aggression. These states might be overrun if they supported such a resolution; we could not expect, therefore, that they would support such a move unless absolutely convinced that all avenues for peace had been fully explored.

Chauvel indicated that one of the crucial questions for him and many others was the steps we contemplate taking to implement an aggression resolution; what were our plans and what machinery did we propose to maintain control over joint actions.

Ambassador Gross made three comments with regard to Jebb’s plan. He asked what was the rationale of this step and on what publicly explainable basis does it sidestep the aggression question. What program of action does it contemplate in terms of requiring a prompt reply from Peiping and in terms of subsequent action. Is it the first step of a two-step program which is agreed to at the present time? He asked whether the concept of withdrawal in Jebb’s plan was not retrogressive from the six-power resolution which demanded Chinese armed forces withdraw immediately.

Ambassador Gross then outlined in very general terms a type of a resolution which we had in mind and the type of action which we contemplated that the collective measures committee might consider. We did not contemplate direct military action against the mainland.

Chauvel suggested two possible alternative steps in the interim phase: Approval of Jebb’s plan with provision for a given number of days for Peiping to reply; or incorporation of the principle contained in the supplemental note and resolution, perhaps the six-power resolution, and approval by the Assembly.

Sunde supported Jebb’s suggestion or some other plan which had the same purpose. He said that he thought in any case his government would be very reluctant to join in sponsoring a resolution on aggression. They might in due course be prepared to vote for such a resolution.

I summed up the meeting by saying that in the light of the positions of the other sponsors, I was prepared to given consideration to the plan which had been put forward. I felt it essential that we have the texts of these six points. I saw no reason for not discussing with the Committee of Three the ideas which had been considered at this meeting.

Jebb undertook to try to get the Committee of Three to let us have the text of their six principles tomorrow morning.

  1. i.e., the Cease-Fire Group.
  2. Reference is to the 12-power draft resolution; see footnote 8, p. 2.
  3. Sir Gladwyn Jebb, United Kingdom Representative at the United Nations.
  4. For the communiqué issued on December 8, 1950 by President Truman and Prime Minister Attlee following their meetings in Washington, see Foreign Relations, 1950, vol. vii, p. 1476.
  5. Arne Sunde, Norwegian Representative at the United Nations.
  6. Francis Lacoste, French Alternate Representative at the United Nations.