320/11–1252: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Department of State


Delga 176. Limited distribution. From Gross. Re Korea.

After dinner Nov 11 Secretary and Gross visited Eden and Lloyd for discussion tactical situation re Korea. On reading Menon’s draft res, on which Lloyd had made some unsubstantial changes, Eden said he could not understand it and wld hate to have to explain it in House of Commons. Eden appeared convinced that approach reflected in Menon draft was too confusing and unmanageable. Secretary handed Eden [Page 608] copy of our draft text (Delga 151 as modified by succeeding tels1) making it clear that if this text were introduced, we wld not do it and authorship should not be attributed to US. Eden’s reaction was that it was exactly right. Eden and the Secretary agreed that Acheson wld give a copy of our language to Menon at 9 a.m. Nov. 12 and wld explain that it represented our reactions to the ideas which had been under discussion with Menon. In conversation with Lloyd and Gross, Eden agreed to follow same line at his mtg with Menon later in the morning of Nov 12.
At mtg with Secretary, Gross present, Menon reviewed in detail assumptions on which he was working, without adding anything new. He told Secretary specifically Indians had been in touch with Chinese Communists who had been difficult to pin down and generally evasive. Nevertheless, Indian Govt had instructed Menon within last two or three days to table a res and Menon believed he must move quickly. Menon feared that situation in Committee 1 would stimulate others to come forward with new proposals and that this wld impair the effect of the Indian initiative. He was outspokenly critical of Palar’s approach, which he described as useless and unconstructive. Menon noted that he had not discussed the draft with the Asian-Africans and had limited his consultations to the Commonwealth and most closely to the UK, US and Pearson. Menon now intended to talk with Polish and Swedish dels since under his plan they wld be members of repatriation commission.
Menon repeated his thesis that although we might believe Chinese Communists did not want armistice, Indians believed they did. At this point Secretary stated we must assume both sides want an armistice; question is what price either side wld be willing to pay for one. Menon agreed this was a correct formulation of the problem. Menon stated it was essential for the umbrella of the Geneva convention to be placed over the situation, since both sides were talking in terms of Geneva convention. It seemed clear to him that Chinese Communists wld not accept any procedure based on screening, because they have insisted everyone wanted to go back and screening was, therefore, not necessary.
Menon expressed the view that repatriation commission shld include Soviet satellites because nothing else wld be acceptable to Communists. However, he said that as result of conversations with Gross he was not thinking in terms of a five member commission, adding an umpire to the previous two-for-two. He regarded this as a considerable advance.
Secretary then explained that our principal concern was, first, that any res include a clear and understandable affirmation of the principle [Page 609] of non-forcible repatriation, and second, that a POW commission which wld have executive functions be so composed that it cld accomplish its task. Most suitable composition seemed to Secretary to be one consisting of an impartial group, i.e., states not under Communist control. Secretary pointed out that we had made a concession to Menon’s point of view in talking in terms of a repatriation commission with executive functions as distinguished from the supervisory functions envisaged for “committee for repatriation of prisoners of war” in article 3 of draft armistice agreement. Nevertheless, Menon reiterated that Chinese Communists wld never accept commission composed entirely of non-Communist states.
Secretary then handed Menon copy of our language. He said we had put our ideas on paper in order to avoid risk of misunderstanding, but that Menon wld appreciate that these are not US Govt proposals. Secretary described paper as containing thoughts which might be of help to Menon if he wished to use them. Menon said he would think them over. Off-hand he doubted Chinese Communists wld accept approach reflected therein, because it seemed to him to include another version of screening procedure and because (though it was not clearly stated) we had missed whole point of his proposal re repatriation commission. Secretary again emphasized to Menon fundamental point that commission we were now suggesting went beyond anything contemplated in draft armistice agreement up to this time.
Menon then commented that he thought Chinese Communists wld not accept any res which did not include details as to operations of commission. He thought Chinese Communists wld not wish to leave such details in their entirety to negots at Panmunjom. Secretary pointed out that no one in New York cld possibly know what problems wld be involved in the care, handling, disposition, and disciplining of large numbers of men. These problems cld only be worked out on the spot. Without denying this, Menon thought that elements of detail included in his draft wld not hamper Panmunjom negots.
Re Menon’s proposal for establishment of group of three GA presidents, Secretary seriously doubted this wld be desirable or practical and suggested that text handed to Menon dealt with matter in more suitable way. Secy informed Menon we had had no doubt that armistice conference shld include Communist China, North Korean authorities and USSR if they desired to be included as well as states designated by GA from among those which had participated in the fighting and those which had not.
At end of conversation Secretary stated he was sure Menon knew we were very sympathetic to his efforts. Our common objective was to do everything reasonably possible to bring about an armistice. What we had handed to Menon as suggestions for use if he saw fit represented our best thinking re major points involved. However, Menon wld understand [Page 610] we cld not keep situation in suspense indefinitely. Our suggestions represented limit to which we cld go in meeting points in Menon’s mind as we understand them. Menon appeared to grasp Secretary’s meaning. He said he wld like to think over points Secretary had made and wld communicate with us later. Secretary said both he and Gross wld be glad to see Menon at any time.
Our view is that if Menon does not accept our suggestions by end of day, we shld call a halt to current discussions with him and proceed actively to work toward winding up consideration of Korean problem in Comite I. Tactics for doing so are under consideration here and will be transmitted for info Dept.
  1. For telegram Delga 151, dated Nov. 8, see p. 588; the principal modification of this telegram was transmitted in telegram Gadel 48, dated Nov. 10, p. 597.