795.00/8—2752: Telegram

The Acting Secretary of State to the Embassy in the Soviet Union1


206. For Kennan from Matthews. Some consideration is being given in Dept to suggesting that Pres issue statement along lines quoted below. Its purpose is to give Commies a face saving device to permit them to accept Korean armistice on our terms without accepting our principle of non-forcible repatriation of POWs and, if they reject proposal, to provide good propaganda position for us. There is no thought here that as result of the “subsequent negots” we wld in fact agree to any forcible return of remaining Commie POWs.

Wld appreciate ur early comments both as to desirability issuance of some such statement and timing thereof, i.e., if you favor idea, shd statement be made while Chou En-lai and company are still in Moscow or shd we wait outcome Soviet-Chinese Commie talks.

Proposed statement follows: [Page 464]

“I am told that the official Soviet newspapers, Pravda and Izvestiya, have printed the text of an appeal by the Progressive Party candidate for Pres2 in this country, addressed to Gen Eisenhower and Mr. Stevenson. This appeal urges that these gentlemen join in requesting to propose to our reps conducting negots in Korea to conclude an immediate cease-fire on the already agreed upon demarcation line, postponing the question of the prisoners of war for resolution by civilian reps of both sides until after the cessation of hostilities.’ I am also informed that public spokesmen of the Commie Party in the US, in supporting this request, have argued that, since agreement has been reached on many thorny issues in the negots at Panmunjom, there shld be a cease fire based on the area of agreement that already exists.

“This Govt, and the other members of the UN with which it is associated, are sincere in their desire to see an armistice concluded in Korea. It is true that a large area of agreement has now been established in the armistice negots. The two sides have agreed on armistice provisions for all questions except those concerning prisoners of war. The fact is, moreover, that even on this question, each side has declared its readiness to return given numbers of prisoners of war. The Commies have frequently declared that they were prepared to return to the UN 12,000 UN prisoners. Reps of UN have frequently stated that we are prepared to return some 83,000 prisoners of war whom we hold. The only outstanding issue relates to those prisoners whose status is in dispute.

“As agent of UN for Unified Command in Korea, I therefore propose that the opposing sides mutually undertake to carry out all the arts that have been agreed to by the negotiators, and to take those actions which each side has already declared itself ready to take by way of returning prisoners to the control of other side. This wld mean that UN wld return 83,000 prisoners to Commie control; that Commies wld return 12,000 prisoners to UN control; that there then be an immediate cease-fire and armistice in Korea; and that question of what to do with those prisoners whose status remains in dispute after cease-fire be subj of subsequent negots. If Commies share our desire to bring an end to fighting in Korea, the way is open.”

  1. This telegram was drafted and cleared by Matthews.
  2. The Progressive Party’s candidate for President in the 1952 election was Vincent W. Hallinan.