Miller files, lot 53 D 26, “Colombia”

Memorandum by the Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs (Miller) to the Director of the Office of South American Affairs (Atwood)1



  • Reimbursement Neegotiations with Colombians

I am agreeable to the proposal to initiate negotiations with the Colombians as soon as possible concerning reimbursement for the battalion. I also have no objection to requesting from the Colombians in the first instance full reimbursement for the cost which the U.S. Government has incurred in connection with the training, transportation, equipment and maintenance of the battalion.

However, I wish to reiterate that as the principal civilian involved in the negotiations which led up to the Colombian offer of the battalion, it was the distinct understanding at the time of the negotiations that the terms of the reimbursement, both as to amount and the currency of payment, was to be left for subsequent negotiations. In the conversations which General Ridgway and General Bolte had with Ambassador Zuleta and the then Minister of War Dr. Roberto Urdaneta, now Acting President of Colombia, it was repeatedly stated to them that our principal concern was the urgent necessity of getting other UN units in the field in Korea and that the question or reimbursement was of minor importance as compared to the principal objective. The Colombian Government would never have made the offer of troops for Korea if they had expected to bear the full expense in dollars. In my opinion the fact that we have not settled the Colombian case on a basis satisfactory to Colombia in accordance with that understanding is the primary reason why we have not obtained other troop offers from Latin American Governments all of which are worried about the high cost involved in participating in the Korean operation in proportion to their annual budgets.

Furthermore, during the discussions which Mr. Acheson and General Bolte had with the Foreign Minister of Brazil2 during the Foreign Ministers’ Conference in March 19513 and that General Bolte and I had with the Chileans and Peruvians at that time, we repeatedly stressed the fact that reimbursement for any troops they might send would be subject to negotiation both as to amount and as to the currency of payment. The representatives of the other Governments involved [Page 793] were repeatedly given the impression that our primary concern was to obtain troops for Korea and that the question of reimbursement was of lesser importance to us.

  1. Drafted by Assistant Secretary Miller.
  2. João Neves da Fontoura.
  3. Reference is to the Fourth Meeting of Consultation of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of American States, held in Washington, Mar. 26–Apr. 7, 1951; for documentation on the meeting, see Foreign Relations, 1951, vol. ii, pp. 925 ff.