IO files, lot 71 D 440

Minutes of the Thirteenth Meeting of the United States Delegation at the United Nations General Assembly1


The Secretary opened the meeting and referred to certain “corridor gossip” regarding the election of a Secretary-General. He urged an attitude of reticence upon the members of the Delegation. He said that it would be unwise to be drawn into speculation regarding this or that individual. He himself had tried to give the excuse as a means of buying more time for our preparations that perhaps Mr. Lie would not be adamant but rather would be willing to finish his term. The Secretary suggested that the members of the Delegation await the results of staff consideration of this matter before becoming involved in conversations on it.

1. Korean Question (Document SD/A/C.1/396/Rev.2);2 Draft Resolutions A/C. 1/725 (Twenty-one Power), A/C.1/730 (Mexican), A/C.1/732 (Peruvian), A/C.1/729/Rev.2 (Soviet).

The Secretary suggested that, since he and Ambassador Gross had been doing most of the “infighting” of the last week, he could give an adequate picture of the recent developments. He recalled that during the week, prior to Vishinsky’s speech,3 the Soviet Foreign Minister and Mr. Gromyko had been seeing the “neutralists”, urging these delegations on with their various schemes for solving the Korean question. After the Soviets had stimulated a good deal of activity, Vishinsky had spoken and said, in effect, that he would not budge. This was a very familiar tactical move. Having gotten these “neutralist” delegations aroused to the point where they felt they must come forward with proposed solutions, the Soviets had then made it quite clear that they would not move from their position. The momentum thus created required an outlet which resulted in a search for some formula which would be much closer to the wishes of the Soviets. It was no longer a question of saving face for the Russians and satisfying our demands, but rather of giving the Soviets the decision and trying to save our face.

Everything had come to a head with the activities of Krishna Menon (India) who seemed to be a master of putting words together so that they conveyed no idea at all. His scheme would be to turn the prisoners of war over to some other “outfit” which would re-educate them. [Page 654] He had alleged that the number of prisoners who were unwilling to be repatriated had been overestimated and that in fact, very probably, as a result of the re-education, they would all want to return.

During many conversations with Mr. Menon, the Secretary and Ambassador Gross had tried to make absolutely clear the firm proposals put forth by the Unified Command at Panmunjom: (1) No force of any kind should be used on prisoners of war; (2) Any group, whether a Commission or anything else, having the task of applying the POW provisions, must be clearly organized and completely workable. If both sides have equal representation then there must be an umpire. Otherwise a stalemate would exist. The problem of solving the ultimate disposition of prisoners of war could not be worked out in New York but only in Panmunjom by the men who knew all the related problems and complicating factors; (3) Regardless of who would be in charge of determining the wishes of the prisoners of war, there must be two exits: one for those who wish to return and the other for those who refuse. Menon had apparently been working on an idea which was tantamount to having only one exit—that which led to repatriation. His idea meant that the Unified Command would be required to use force, to turn them into “a sausage machine” from which they could only emerge as “sausage”. This, of course, was completely contrary to our position. Such was the “battle which had raged” for the past few weeks.

Every deviation from our principles pointed out in Menon’s draft was claimed by the Indian representative to be a “typographical error”. The Secretary noted the text of the Indian resolution which was before the Delegation, and which had not, up to that moment, been tabled. In this text only the portion entitled “Proposals” was to be transmitted to the Communists. He noted that whereas the idea that force was not to be used was contained in the “inducing” paragraphs, it had been dropped out of the proposals. There was a further confusion between paragraphs 8 and 9 which literally meant that force was both in and out. This kind of operation was what made one wonder whether Menon was trying to achieve the same results as we were, said the Secretary. Furthermore, paragraph 16 referred to the turning over of unrepatriated prisoners of war to the post-armistice political conference. In simple terms this meant a continuation of the deadlock. The Secretary had told Menon that there must be two exits, one for those who wanted to go home, the other for those who would be released as free men. The Secretary had suggested that there was really no problem in connection with releasing North Koreans who did not want to go back to the Communist regime. It was like people from Connecticut being released in New Jersey where they speak the same language, have the same culture and simply live in another part of the same country. As far as the Chinese Communists, who were unwilling to return, were concerned, there were some 15,000 of them. When Menon had protested [Page 655] about the trouble necessitated by taking care of them, the Secretary had replied that it was certainly no worse than the problems entailed with the hundreds of thousands of Palestine refugees. Menon had then expressed concern that Chiang Kai-shek might get these men. The Secretary had pointed out that some 83,000 would be going back to the Chinese Communists and that we could be expected to do much more to live up to the armistice agreement which prohibited enlisting former prisoners of war on our side than the Communists with regard to those going back to Communist China.

Finally, the Secretary said that Menon planned to table his resolution very soon, but whether it would be better or worse than the draft we had seen was completely unknown. Mrs. Roosevelt pointed out that the Indian draft resolution made no provision for a Chairman for the Commission. The Secretary recalled that paragraph 13 spoke in somewhat unclear terms of an umpire. This man would not be a member of the Commission, but would apparently only walk into the Commission Room when there was disagreement and magically solve all problems. What the Indians, or at least Menon, did not understand was that the umpire would be the sole administrative officer. No provision had been made for housing, feeding, clothing, or otherwise taking care of the prisoners of war. The Secretary said that perhaps one POW camp at a time could be declared a demilitarized zone where the Commission could take charge. He thought that perhaps General Clark might be able to work this out.

The Secretary indicated that the Indian draft had gone to Washington where the Joint Chiefs of Staff and State Department officers had worked on it Friday night and all day Saturday.4 They had reworded it so as to be acceptable to the United States. General Bradley and Secretary Lovett had come to New York on Sunday and, after a meeting with the members of the Delegation, had spoken to some of the representatives of the group of twenty-one powers who had become a little weak on this matter.5 General Bradley had pointed out to them that the Unified Command could not run the risk, if rioting should break out among the prisoners of war, of not being able to handle matters appropriately.

The group of twenty-one was to meet that morning and consider the Indian draft and our reactions to it. It might be possible to amend the twenty-one power draft resolution with the acceptable parts of the Indian draft. On the other hand, we could let Menon go ahead with his draft and seek to amend it. There was one danger in following the latter course. This was that each time a change was made we would [Page 656] have to be sure that all the twenty-one powers knew where we stood with regard to it. Since inertia tended to operate against rather than for amendments, it would be easier to follow the course of amending our own resolution. However, it might be necessary to go along with Menon to the extent of trying to amend his resolution. We might so amend his resolution that he would be unable to vote for it. The Secretary asked Senator Wiley if he had any comments.

Senator Wiley6 said “your wisdom is so immense that I have nothing to say”. The Secretary answered that it was not wisdom, but patience which was required in this situation. Admiral Struble7 had no comment to make. Ambassador Gross noted that he had asked Menon whether the latter had given the resolution with the “typographical error” in it to the Soviets. Menon had dismissed this by saying that he could always tell the Russians he might make changes in the text. Furthermore, Menon thought the attitude of the Chinese Communists was much more important than that of the Russians. Ambassador Gross said that he had raised this simply to illustrate the “fuzziness” in the Indians’ thinking.

Mr. Charles Allen8 referred to the press problems if Menon tabled his resolution and US comment were sought. The Secretary agreed that this was an important aspect and suggested emphasizing that he and others had pointed out our willingness to accept constructive ideas not inconsistent with our principles. Then it could be pointed out that there were certain disturbing elements in the Indian draft. Ambassador Gross felt that what was told to the twenty other sponsors would doubtless become public. He thought we should be frank both with them and with the public, which would amount to the same thing.

Mr. Sprague9 cautioned against allowing our own public opinion to become fuzzy. He felt that we should make clear what was unacceptable without saying we were against the whole thing. Mr. Allen agreed with this.

Ambassador Jessup suggested an off-the-record or background press conference to accomplish the desired result. Mr. Charles Allen noted that this idea had been discussed and thought that the time might be at hand.

Mr. Sprague considered Korea to be the big question for the American public, and suggested that we would have to “walk warily, but in a straight line”.

[Page 657]

Ambassador Gross thought that it would be necessary for the Secretary to make another speech in the First Committee that week. He warned that U.S. statements outside the Committee Room made our friends think that we were taking the debate beyond the Assembly. He recalled an example where after Zafrulla Khan’s10 speech our opposition to his ideas had been set forth in a background conference. This position had been picked up by the paper as “a U.S. Delegate said…11 etc.”, and the Danish Delegation, for one, had told us they felt this to be an unfortunate way of handling the matter.

Mrs. Roosevelt said that it was important to point out the things in a document which a newspaperman might not see. Stories were often written based on a quick scanning of a document without a detailed knowledge having been applied to it. Unless they were trained to look at the implications behind the words, they might get the wrong idea entirely. Mr. Charles Allen said that this could be and had been done. He suggested that ten or twelve trusted American correspondents, who needed guidance very badly, could be given this kind of information and thereby avoid unnecessary commotion. The Secretary said that he would be glad to speak to the newsmen, but had certain time limitations. Ambassador Jessup suggested that Ambassador Gross and Mr. Charles Allen handle this if Menon introduced his resolution. Ambassador Gross reported that Menon had told a United Kingdom representative that he would table his resolution that morning. However, one never knew with Menon just what he was going to do. Mr. Charles Allen suggested making quite sure with the Indians when they would table their resolution and then quickly setting up a background conference. After this was agreed to, the meeting was adjourned.

Charles D. Cook
  1. These minutes were drafted by Charles D. Cook, Adviser to the U.S. Permanent Mission at the United Nations on Nov. 19. Secretary Acheson, Eleanor Roosevelt, Senator Wiley, and Ambassador Gross led the list of participants at this meeting which was attended by 42 members of the U.S. Delegation and the Permanent Staff.
  2. For text of this position paper, see p. 599.
  3. The speech of Nov. 10 before the First Committee; see footnote 1 p. 598.
  4. For the formal consultations between the Joint Chiefs and the Department of State, see the memorandum of discussion, Nov. 15, p. 634.
  5. For a report on the meeting with the British and Canadians, see the draft memorandum of conversation, Nov. 16, p. 637.
  6. Senator Alexander Wiley, U.S. Representative at the Seventh UN General Assembly.
  7. Vice Admiral Arthur D. Struble, USN, Adviser to the U.S. Delegation at the Seventh UN General Assembly.
  8. Director, Office of Public Affairs, U.S. Permanent Mission at the United Nations.
  9. Charles A. Sprague, U.S. Alternate Representative at the Seventh UN General Assembly.
  10. Mohammad Zafrullah Khan, Pakistani Minister of Foreign and Commonwealth Relations and Chairman of the Pakistani Delegation at the Seventh UN General Assembly.
  11. Ellipsis in the source text.