The Secretary of State to the Department of State
Delga 157. (For limited distribution in Dept.) Re Korea. Following is record of Amb. Gross conversation with Menon (India).
Menon told me “in confidence and not to be quoted—I have reason to believe Chi Commies want an armistice.”
Menon appeared anxious for indications as soon as possible of our conclusions on basis discussions reported to Dept (Delgas 149 and 150, Nov 8).1 I repeated assurances to him that we desired armistice on just terms but would not be interested in any formula which left in doubt issue of nonforcible repatriation or which left for negot after an armistice any aspect of POW question. I told him that in our view the composition of a Repatriation Comm and its functions were inseparably related and that with regard to composition, our “overwhelmingly strong preference” was for GA designation of an impartial comm, composed of one or more states not Communist-controlled. Menon repeated arguments previously made that Chi Commies would not admit that any other states were “impartial”, including India. He thought they would regard Switz as “too western”, and Indo or Burma as “insignificant”.
I said that as very poor second alternative we might consider possibility of GA designating a bilateral comm of the Pole–Czech–Swede–Swiss [Page 596] variety, plus an umpire fixed simultaneously by the GA, for example Norway, Brazil or India. Menon foresaw difficulties arising similar to those which would attend efforts to establish an impartial comm. I mentioned, as a third possibility, that the GA res might call upon the negotiators to set up a mixed POW comm which should agree upon an umpire within a fixed period at the end of which the GA would designate an umpire if agreement had not been reached. This seemed to appeal to Menon more than any other suggestion.
I pressed upon him the view that if the Commies persisted in objections to proposals such as these, it would simply prove their unwillingness to have an armistice. Menon referred in a general way to Chi Commies suspicions of US, and brought up the question of our crossing the 38th Parallel, which he insisted “brought the Chinese unwillingly into the war”. I reminded him we had always disagreed with this assumption. Re the present situation I said we would not tolerate any formula in a GA res which could enable the Commies later to pretend they had accepted the principle of nonforcible repatriation but that we had thereafter refused to agree to a particular procedural arrangement. This seemed to strike Menon as a new idea, and he readily expressed agreement with it.
I then attempted to explain to him the necessity for considering carefully the relationship between the Repatriation Comm and the UNC. I told him we were confused by what he had in mind about the responsibilities which each would have under his scheme for the large numbers of PW’s who were involved in this matter. After he made vague references to the mixed armistice comite and the POW comite set up under the armistice agreement, I pointed out that the real question was what the relationship would be between General Clark and the new POW Comm. I said we could not envisage the possibility that Gen. Clark would take orders from a comm partly composed of Commie satellites. This also seemed to strike Menon as a new problem and he said he “would like to think about that over night.”
He again professed to be anxious to be as helpful as possible and asked me to see him “not later than Tues”.2 He hopes to see the Secretary and asked me to arrange a meeting as soon as possible.