Memorandum by the Secretary of State1

top secret

This morning after the Cabinet [meeting] Mr. Lovett and I met with the President to discuss the attached memorandum of February 8, recommending maintenance of the present United States position regarding return of prisoners of war.2 I presented the matter to the President and informed him of the series of conferences which we had had with Mr. Lovett, the Service Secretaries and the Joint Chiefs.3 The President went over the memorandum.

Mr. Lovett then said to the President that he did not oppose the President’s approval of this memorandum. He said that the position presented by the State Department was very persuasive and he said that there was not unanimity of opinion between the three Service Secretaries or between the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He asked that the memorandum should not be regarded as “definitive”, by which he meant, as indicated by his remarks, final and irrevocable. He reported his conversation with some of the Senators who were signatories to the proposed resolution on non-forcible return of prisoners, stating that he had persuaded them that the present resolution was not properly drafted, and that any resolution at this time would be harmful. He assured them that they would be informed prior to any change in present policy, and he stated to the President and me that he thought that at some time a properly drafted resolution on this subject might be very helpful in the negotiations. He thought that we could go ahead at once in implementing the memorandum. When he concluded, the President stated his approval of the memorandum and noted his approval on the attached copy and upon a duplicate original which he gave to Mr. Lovett.

After we had left the President I spoke with Mr. Lovett about the suggestion made yesterday that perhaps an officer of this Department should accompany a representative of the Joint Chiefs to Tokyo to assist General Ridgway. I said that the logical officer to do this by reason of his prior experience and familiarity with the subject would be [Page 44] Mr. Bohlen, but that in view of the departure of so many senior officers for London and Lisbon,4 I did not see how we could spare Mr. Bohlen during the next two weeks. Mr. Lovett said that he quite understood this and indeed had said as much to General Bradley this morning. I suggested that Mr. John Ferguson was familiar with this matter, with my attitude toward it and was most resourceful. I suggested that if they wished help from us, Mr. Ferguson might go to Tokyo now and possibly be replaced by Mr. Bohlen after we returned from Lisbon. This would have the advantage of bringing back to us through Mr. Ferguson a firsthand knowledge of General Ridgway’s problems and sending to General Ridgway the latest thinking of Washington through Mr. Bohlen. Mr. Lovett will talk with General Bradley and let us know their views.

  1. The following names were handwritten on the source text: Allison, Bohlen, Nitze, and Matthews; presumably they received copies of the memorandum.
  2. Infra.
  3. See memoranda by Johnson, Feb. 4 and 8, pp. 32 and 40.
  4. The Secretary was referring to the meetings of the Foreign Ministers of the United States, United Kingdom, and France in London, Feb. 13–19, and Lisbon, Feb. 20–26, and the Ninth Session of the North Atlantic Council in Lisbon, Feb. 20–25, 1952. For documentation on these meetings, see vol. v, Part 1, pp. 1 ff.