The Assistant Secretary of State for United Nations Affairs ( Murphy ) to the United States Representative at the United Nations ( Lodge )1


Dear Cabot : Your letter of September 242 to the Secretary on the question of Colombian reimbursement, in which was enclosed the memorandum given to you by Ambassador Urrutia, has been considered by the Department.

Having actively participated in the recent top-level review of the reimbursement problem, you will recall that the National Security Council adopted a new formula in July which would give the Department of State greater flexibility in settling bills such as that owed to the United States by Colombia for logistic support received in Korea at an amount less than full reimbursement.3 As you are aware, the new formula would also assist the Department in conducting negotiations looking towards an increase in the participation of other United Nations Members in Korea. However, the new NSC policy has not been put into effect, awaiting the opinion of the Attorney General requested [Page 804] by the President, on whether there exists a legal basis in present legislation for the new reimbursement formula, and if not, on the nature of any new legislation which would be needed. Our concern over the delay in rendering the legal opinion prompted me to raise this matter with Mr. Robert Cutler on October 2. I am enclosing a memorandum of conversation4 for your information.

You will note from the memorandum of conversation that Mr. Cutler has requested Mr. Brownell to draft a statute which could be used as a basis for new legislation. It is Mr. Cutler’s intention to submit Mr. Brownell’s draft to the NSC Planning Board. Since there is no assurance that the new reimbursement formula can be implemented without obtaining new legislation, we can expect substantial delay before we can consider settlements with present participants in Korea at less than full reimbursement. The Department prefers that no suggestion regarding possible action by the Executive Branch to secure new legislation be given to the Colombians at this time as they are not adverse to converting such information to their own use.

With respect to Ambassador Urrutia’s memorandum, we do not believe there is much to be gained from an attempt to refute the arguments contained therein. We have always considered the problem of Korean military assistance apart from the aid which countries have been given by the United States. The Colombian Government is well aware that a number of Governments which have received substantial aid from the United States suffered considerable damage during World War II. However, we believe that it would be helpful if you could inform Ambassador Urrutia that the matter raised in his memorandum is under active consideration in the Department and that Ambassador Zuleta-Angel will be requested shortly to call on Assistant Secretary John M. Cabot for an exchange of views.

Without making reference to the article which appeared in the October 1 issue of the New York Times, in which a Colombian official is reported to have said that if his country was expected to pay for the equipment issued to the battalion which it had sent to Korea, the troops should drop that equipment and come home, you might also emphasize to Ambassador Urrutia the desirability of avoiding public statements which might make more difficult the amicable settlement of this problem and undermine our negotiations with other United Nations members with forces in Korea.

Sincerely yours,

Robert Murphy
  1. Drafted by Joseph J. Sisco of the Office of UN Affairs.
  2. Not printed (795B.5/9–2453).
  3. For documentation relating to this subject, see volume xv .
  4. Not printed.