Position Paper Prepared for the United States Delegation at the United Nations General Assembly 2
To determine the United States position regarding the first stage of consideration of the Korean question at the Seventh Session of the [Page 600] General Assembly for the purpose of gaining the support of the maximum possible number of members in the General Assembly for the efforts of the United Nations Command to repel aggression and conclude an honorable armistice in Korea. (This paper assumes that the status of armistice negotiations following the meeting in Panmunjom of October 8 has not changed, and that the Communist forces have not launched a major all-out offensive in Korea.)
The objective of the United States Delegation should be (a) to have the General Assembly maintain and demonstrate the determination and support of the United Nations members for the UN action in Korea and (b) to obtain the maximum possible support from the General Assembly for the steps which the United States believes best calculated to bring the Communists to agree to an acceptable armistice in Korea. Consultations indicate that these ends can best be achieved by having the United States Delegation, in the first instance, seek the largest possible measure of support for a clear and unequivocal endorsement by the General Assembly of the conduct of negotiations by the UNC and particularly for its position on the prisoner-of-war question. The General Assembly should also call on the Communists to agree to an armistice on a basis consistent with the UNC position. If this first effort fails to bring about an armistice, the General Assembly should again consider the Korean question later in the Seventh Session.
Annex A contains a draft resolution which consultations indicate is likely to obtain the maximum possible support. This initial step will help maintain United States leadership on the Korean item and assure greater support for the kind of resolution which the United States will seek to have adopted at a subsequent stage in the General Assembly if the initial General Assembly resolution does not produce an armistice. The United States Delegation should seek to have a resolution along the lines of Annex A sponsored by all the nations participating in the Korean action and perhaps also members like India and Sweden, if they will join.
- The United States Delegation should, at the close of the first stage of General Assembly consideration, seek to have the Korean item kept open for further consideration later in the General Assembly. The position which the United States should adopt for the second stage of General Assembly consideration will be the subject of a separate paper.3
- The United States Delegation should favor early consideration of the Korean item, keeping in mind the firm intention of the United States to press for a second stage in this session of the General Assembly to consider every practical means by which the United Nations can [Page 601] bring about an end to the hostilities in Korea if the Chinese Communists and North Korean aggressors fail to respond to the above preliminary resolution calling for an armistice based on proposals of the United Nations negotiators. However, if there is widespread and strong support for postponing consideration of the Korean item until after the United States elections, the United States Delegation should not oppose such a move. On the other hand, if the Soviet Delegation presses for immediate consideration of the Korean question, the United States Delegation should adhere to its position in favor of early consideration of this item.
- In the discussion of the Korean item, the United States Delegation
should use every opportunity to:
- stress the patient and persistent efforts which the United Nations Command has made during the past fifteen months to bring about an end to hostilities and an honorable armistice in Korea;
- point out the sacrifices in lives and resources which the Korean people and members of the United Nations have made in opposing aggression in Korea for 28 months, including the fifteen months during which the UNC has been patiently attempting to negotiate an honorable armistice agreement with the Chinese Communist and North Korean aggressors;
- emphasize in particular the position which the United Nations Command has taken on the prisoner-of-war question, giving a full report on the UNC handling of prisoners of war, the reason for our prisoner-of-war position in the armistice negotiations, and the many steps which the United Nations Command has taken in an effort to achieve agreement on this question;
- point out as appropriate that the Assembly is not the best forum for negotiation of detailed solutions of the prisoner-of-war question and that if the Communists at any time show any interest in exploring any constructive proposal the United Nations Command is prepared to negotiate at Panmunjom and to make all possible progress toward an armistice. While the United States Delegation should not encourage detailed discussion of specific proposals for solving the prisoner-of-war question, it should not on the other hand discourage such detailed discussion if United States acquiescence in such discussion would increase support for the United States resolution.
- The United States should not encourage or discourage other delegations to seek Assembly approval of particular proposals or suggestions for solution of the prisoner-of-war question which are consistent with the basic United Nations Command position against forcible repatriation. However, this position should be taken only in cases where it might increase support for the United States resolution. That is to say, in instances where such proposals are consistent with the basic United Nations Command position against forcible repatriation the United States Delegation should not discourage them if United States acquiescence will increase support for the United States resolution. The United [Page 602] States should, however, seek to have such proposals worded as recommendations for consideration by the negotiators at Panmunjom.
- The United States should discourage efforts to establish a Good Offices Committee to seek to persuade the Communists to agree to an acceptable armistice. If there is nevertheless strong pressure for such a move, the United States should not oppose it but should take the position that such a Committee should seek to get the Communists to settle the prisoner-of-war question in Panmunjom and should report back in time for consideration of its report by the General Assembly at this session.
- The United States should strongly oppose any resolution which
- compromise the United States position against forcible repatriation of prisoners of war; or
- suggest an armistice on the basis of the provisions already agreed to, leaving the entire prisoner-of-war question unsettled. The United States could not agree to any armistice which leaves our own prisoners of war in Communist hands. The United States should oppose any proposal that the Assembly recommend an armistice on the basis of the agreed provisions and the immediate exchange of those prisoners of war willing to be repatriated, leaving only the disposition of non-repatriates for subsequent settlement. If such a proposal is nevertheless made, the United States Delegation should seek further instructions from the Department.
- The United States should strongly oppose any move to link the question of a Korean armistice directly with other political questions, it should oppose any suggestion for a Far Eastern conference in which the Korean armistice might be one item, and should take the position that the place to conclude the negotiation of a Korean armistice is at Panmunjom. After the conclusion of such an armistice, the United States is fully prepared to support a political conference for the solution of the Korean problem as recommended in the draft armistice agreement. The United States will not oppose consideration of other Far Eastern questions in appropriate forums after a political settlement of the Korean problem.
- The United States should oppose the hearing of representatives of the North Korean regime and the Chinese Communists in connection with consideration of the Korean question. If the Republic of Korea submits a request to be heard, or if a substantial number of delegations favor an invitation to it, the United States should support an invitation to the Republic of Korea to participate without a vote in the proceedings of the First Committee.
- The position which the United States Delegation should take if before or during the Assembly an armistice should be achieved is covered in a separate paper.4
1. Early Consideration of the Korean Item.
At the Sixth Session of the General Assembly, the United States opposed discussion of the Korean question because we felt that such discussion would hamper the negotiations at Panmunjom and would not contribute to an armistice. At the Seventh Session, however, the situation is completely changed. The United States has exhausted every effort to achieve an armistice in Korea. Agreement has been reached on all issues except that of repatriation of prisoners of war and the United States has made every effort to find a solution for that problem. Communist intransigence in insisting on forcible repatriation of prisoners of war and their persistent abuse of the armistice negotiations in recent months as a forum for propaganda attacks, will probably have led the UNC, before the General Assembly meets, to recess the negotiations until the Communists have something constructive to offer. Assembly consideration of the Korean question, therefore, not only cannot hurt the chances of an armistice but might improve them. The United States recognizes also the great interest of other members in discussing the Korean case and is prepared to submit to the judgment of the Assembly an accounting of its conduct of the armistice negotiations and to ask the Assembly to undertake steps calculated to help bring about an armistice.
In view of the importance of the Korean question, the United States believes that it should be considered early in the session. The United States also wishes to assure that there will be time for the Assembly to take another look at the Korean case later in the session, in the event that the initial efforts which the United States will recommend do not produce an armistice. Some delegations, however, are afraid that the Korean case might become embroiled in United States pre-election politics and are anxious to have the case postponed until after the United States elections. While the United States sees no need for such postponement, we would not oppose it if other friendly delegations pressed for it. On the other hand, if the Russians insist on urgent consideration, we would have to take the position that it should be considered immediately lest it appear that the Russians are more anxious to discuss Korea than we are.[Page 604]
2. General Approach to Substantive Discussion.
As indicated, the United States believes that the Assembly should take steps calculated to contribute to the achievement of an honorable armistice in Korea. In the present state of the armistice negotiations, the United States believes that this end can best be served by firm and overwhelming support by United Nations members for the basic position which the UNC has taken at Panmunjom and for a resolution calling upon the Communists to agree to an armistice on the basis of this position. The United States also believes that if the Communists flatly reject this initial request by the Assembly, the Assembly must take up the Korean question again before the end of the Seventh Session. The position which the United States Delegation should take in regard to this second stage of consideration by the Assembly will be the subject of a separate position paper.5
In the discussion of the Korean item, the United States should stress the efforts which it has made to bring about an armistice in Korea and in particular to solve the prisoner-of-war question on an honorable basis. The position of the UNC on prisoners of war has been fully supported by the other governments participating in the Korean action as well as generally by non-Cominform governments and public opinion throughout the world. It is believed that other governments will be persuaded that the United States has made every effort to find an acceptable solution of this question and that in general its conduct of the negotiations on this point has been commendable.
In bringing the Korean case to the General Assembly it is the purpose of the United States to have the Assembly put pressure on the Communists to adopt a constructive attitude at Panmunjom. It is not the purpose of the United States to transfer the scene of the negotiations on the prisoner-of-war question from Panmunjom to the General Assembly. The United States believes that the General Assembly is not an appropriate forum for such negotiations and that progress on this question, if any, could best be made between the negotiators who have dealt with this question before at Panmunjom. The United States recognizes that in addition to the numerous proposals for solving the prisoner-of-war question which the UNC offered, there are other variants which could be suggested. There is no reason, however, to assume that these would basically be more acceptable to the Communists. If the Communists, at any time during the General Assembly indicate interest in exploring any particular suggestion consistent with the basic principle of non-forcible repatriation, the UNC is prepared to negotiate further at Panmunjom and to take all possible progress toward an armistice.[Page 605]
The United States Delegation should, therefore, discourage resolutions approving particular solutions for the prisoner-of-war question. It should not, however, oppose such resolutions if they are consistent with the basic UNC position against non-forcible repatriation. Instead, it should seek to have such resolutions worded as recommendations for consideration by the negotiators at Panmunjom rather than as solutions by the Assembly. The United States should strongly oppose any resolution which is inconsistent with our basic position on prisoners of war or which would call for an armistice in circumstances which leave United Nations prisoners of war in Communist hands. A suggestion along the latter lines, i.e., that there should be an armistice now, leaving the entire question for further discussion, has been made in the domestic Communist press in the United States and played up by Pravda;6 this might be a Soviet approach in the Assembly. Another possible Soviet approach which the United States Delegation should oppose is a resolution calling for a conference which would deal with the Korean armistice as well as other questions.
A possible approach which has been favored by friendly delegations would call for an armistice now on the basis of the agreed provisions and the immediate exchange of those prisoners of war who wish to be repatriated, leaving for future negotiation the disposition of the non-repatriates. In private discussions, the United States should not favor such a proposal. Such a proposal might give the impression of willingness ultimately to concede on the forcible repatriation of prisoners of war; also the Communists might later use continued UNC insistence on the principle of non-forcible repatriation as a pretext for calling off the armistice. If, nevertheless, such a proposal is introduced in the Assembly, the United States Delegation should seek further instructions.
The proposal recently made by the Government of Mexico7 may also figure in the discussion. Under this proposal, the armistice would be entered into on the basis of exchanging those prisoners of war who wish to be repatriated, while those who do not wish to be repatriated would be sent to the territories of other United Nations members where they would stay until the return of normalcy to that part of Asia. The United States has not opposed this proposal, and has informed the Secretary General as well as the Mexican Government it welcomes the proposal and considers it useful.8 We have also indicated, however, that this proposal presupposes a willingness on the part of the Communists to accept the idea that there should be no forcible repatriation. If the Communists were prepared to proceed on that premise, the question of [Page 606] the disposition of the non-repatriates would not be a major obstacle. The Mexican proposal might well provide a basis for disposing in particular of the Chinese non-repatriates. So long as the Communists insist on forcible repatriation, however, the UNC saw no point in raising the Mexican proposal in Panmunjom and sees little prospect that proposing it in the Assembly would be fruitful. If, nevertheless, the proposal is raised, the United States should not oppose it.
3. Hearing for Communist Representatives.
The Soviet Union may press for invitations to the Chinese Communists and North Koreans to participate in the Assembly’s discussion of the Korean question. The United States has always opposed invitations to the North Koreans, whose status has never been recognized by either the United States or the United Nations; past efforts of the Soviet Union to have the North Koreans invited have been defeated. Representatives of the Chinese Communists were invited in 1950 in connection with accusation of aggression against the United States, not in connection with the Korean item. The United States should take the position that quite apart from the status of these regimes and the fact that they continue to engage in aggression in Korea, their participation is not called for by the kind of discussion and proposed action contemplated.
- This paper is a copy of one retained in the master files of the Reference and Documents Section of the Bureau of International Organizations Affairs (hereafter IO files).↩
- The source text was the second revision of a paper, SD/A/C.1/396, prepared in the Department of State on Oct. 6, 1952, not printed. (795.00/10–652) On Oct. 9, 1952, it was “modified in tone to meet the comments of the Pentagon on the original paper”, according to a covering memorandum by Wainhouse to Gross which was attached to the copy of the first revision, SD/A/C.1/396/Rev. 1, located in IO files. Essentially the Pentagon’s changes, as discerned by a comparison of the texts of Oct. 6 and 9, gave specific endorsement and support to the conduct of the negotiations carried out by the UNC at Panmunjom, particularly in the prisoner-of-war issue. The differences between the first and second revisions were generally minor and stylistic.↩
- For the text of this position paper, see p. 779.↩
- Not printed (795.00/8–2552).↩
- See footnote 3, above.↩
- See telegram 206 to Moscow, Aug. 27, p. 463.↩
- The Mexican proposal is contained in telegram 202 from New York, Sept. 3, p. 485.↩
- See telegram 119 to New York, Sept. 17, 1952, not printed (695A.0024/9–352), and the letter from Austin to the UN Secretary-General, Oct. 6, 1952, printed in Department of State Bulletin, Nov. 3, 1952, pp. 696–697.↩