Miller files, lot 53 D 26, “Colombia”
Memorandum of Conversation, by the Deputy Director of the Office of South American Affairs ( Bennett )
- Colombian Participation in Korean Effort
- Participants: Señor Dr. Don Cipriano Restrepo-Jaramillo, Colombian Ambassador
- Mr. Miller
- Mr. Bennett
Mr. Miller, accompanied by Mr. Bennett, called on the Colombian Ambassador this afternoon for a further discussion of Colombian participation in the Korean effort and problems involving Colombian reimbursement for the expenses of Colombian troops in Korea. The purpose of the conversation was to explore further the Ambassador’s remarks to Mr. Miller on June 61 regarding the possible withdrawal from Korea of the Colombian battalion.
Mr. Miller informed Ambassador Restrepo that the Department was giving further consideration to the reimbursement problem. He said that, as had been indicated in previous conversations, we were fully aware of the severe financial burden which participation in the Korean effort involves for Colombia. We realized the desirability of early agreement with Colombia on the terms of payment and the Department of State was prepared to take as liberal a position as possible on the reimbursement question, considering both Colombia’s capacity for payment and the important contribution Colombia was making in Korea. While there are definite difficulties in the matter since settlements arranged with other countries, including those with countries receiving no U.S. financial aid, have for the most part called for 100 per cent reimbursement, the Department is prepared to attempt to persuade the Treasury and Defense Departments toward a realistic settlement with Colombia. Mr. Miller mentioned that there are now on his desk letters in the promises for transmittal by the Secretary of State to the Secretaries of Treasury and Defense.
Mr. Miller said, however, that the problem of payment is inseparably linked with the plans of Colombia with respect to troops in Korea. He said that, while no one questions the right of Colombia to withdraw her troops if she considers it necessary and it would be her decision alone, such action would have most serious effects. Quite aside from the loss of Colombia’s valuable military contribution, it would be the first “break in the line” and as such would have very serious consequence [Page 773] on the entire UN effort. The Assistant Secretary considered it necessary therefore, before taking up the problem with other government departments, to inquire further regarding Colombia’s intention. If Colombia were planning an imminent withdrawal, then the Department of State would be in a very poor position in urging on other government departments a generous reimbursement formula.
Ambassador Restrepo replied to this remark by recounting the conversation which he had had with Acting President Urdaneta since his discussion on the matter with Mr. Miller the other day. He said that he had informed the President of Mr. Miller’s comments on the possible Colombian withdrawal and had transmitted this Government’s views as to the seriousness of such a step. He said that he had now been authorized by President Urdaneta to assure the U.S. government that Colombia has no intention of withdrawing her troops from Korea. He said that the President had asked him to state that, notwithstanding the financial burden involved and the great need for the troops, especially the officers, at home in view of current disturbed conditions there, Colombia was determined to fulfill faithfully its undertaking in Korea. He said that the Colombian government would continue in Korea by the side of the U.S. as an act of friendship and an act of faith. The Ambassador was firm and categoric in these statements. In that connection, Ambassador Restrepo expressed very pessimistic views about the situation in Korea and said that he could see no end to the problem.
During the conversation the Ambassador mentioned the scheduled arrival tomorrow of the Minister of War of Colombia for an unofficial visit of two or three weeks connected with the procurement of arms and equipment. He emphasized that Colombia’s most pressing problem today is that of internal order and that the armed forces must be strengthened. He said that the plans to be presented by the Minister of War had been drawn by the Colombian armed forces with the advice and collaboration of the U.S. Military Mission. He expressed the hope that the Minister would be able to proceed with the plans while here. The Ambassador reverted to the assertions made by him in the June 6 conversation concerning opinion in Colombia that the U.S. Government had not treated Colombia as well as she deserved. As in the earlier conversation he disassociated the Colombian government from this alleged opinion.
- Regarding the discussion at this meeting, see Mr. Miller’s memorandum, supra.↩