320/11–2252: Telegram

The United States Representative at the United Nations (Austin) to the Department of State


Delga 241. Dept pass Ottawa, eyes only for Secy. Rptd Ottawa 4. Limited distribution. From Gross. Re Korea:

After outlining to Secretary Acheson present situation here and summarizing developments at mtg of 21 co-sponsors yesterday a.m. I read to Secretary substance of points I planned to make to Eden at our mtg this afternoon (Delga 242, Nov 22).1 Secretary approved substance of points and instructed that we shld arrange mtg of 21 Sunday evening. Secretary wished to be free Monday a.m. to prepare comite 1 statement. He also agreed that we shld not be inactive during week end but shld take steps to mobilize support behind our point of view.

[Page 666]

At 3:30 mtg with Eden and Selwyn Lloyd, the three of us had a frank and friendly discussion for more than an hour.2 No agreement was reached but believe mtg was useful for exchange of views and definition of present positions of both US and UK Govts. After I outlined substance of points mentioned above, I told Eden that we had requested mtg of 21 for Sunday evening and that Secretary of State planned to attend.

Eden then outlined his views in following sense. He himself still believed that the Indian res in the form tabled by Menon was “not too bad”. He felt it to have been a large accomplishment that the Indians had recorded their support for the principle of non-forcible repatriation. Although he was not able to appreciate the full force of our objections to para 14 of the Menon draft (relating to a comm) or to para 17 (relating to disposition of non-repatriated PWs) he had attempted in his speech in comite 1 to safeguard what he understood to be the basic elements of our concern. Although he recognized the fact that we valued Indian support, as I had pointed out, he himself as well as the vast majority of Brit public felt that the Indian initiative was of “tremendous importance”. Eden shared our doubts that the Commies wld accept an armistice but he attached importance to the fact that Commies wld have to accept or reject the proposals.

Eden requested me to keep in confidence that he has been seeing Menon during the past two days and has been attempting to persuade Menon “to accept the substance” of our proposals. Eden was frank to say that in so doing he felt that he was representing our points of view rather than his own, since he himself was prepared to accept the present Menon draft rather than to risk loss of Indian support. He admitted he has not discussed with Menon any amendments other than para 14 and 17.

Eden told me it was likely that Menon wld circulate his draft sometime tomorrow.

It is clear to me from Eden’s remarks that he has not been endeavoring to persuade Menon to accept our amendments in the form in which we had given them to Eden.

With regard to para 14, which we discussed at some length, both Eden and Lloyd argued that it is the intended sense of Menon’s draft that failing agreement by the four members of the comm or an umpire, this matter wld be referred to the Assembly and that under such circumstances the Assembly wld be expected to confine itself to discussion of this particular matter. It is in this sense that para 14 of the Menon draft intends the expression, “this matter shall be referred to the GA”. I [Page 667] argued as I had done both in the comite of 8 and in the comite of 21 yesterday that the issue of the composition and operability of the comm was of so essential a character that no ambiguity cld be tolerated in the res.

I also repeated the argument that it wld be running a serious risk to enable the Assembly to engage in a protracted debate upon the general question of Korea in a context in which the apparent cause of deadlock was not the moral issue of non-forcible repatriation, but a procedural issue of the appointment of an umpire.

Neither Lloyd nor Eden agreed with the logic of this point. Eden insisted that Brit public opinion wld thoroughly understand the importance of the issue and that since the Menon draft is “intended” to confine the issue in dispute to this question in the event of its coming back to the Assembly, my arguments (which he said had been made several times to him by others) did not have any real significance.

We then speculated concerning the country from which an umpire might be drawn. He felt that if the Commies did not want an armistice, they wld object to the Assembly reserving to itself the right to designate an umpire. On the other hand, if they did wish an armistice, this wld not be a breaking point. They wld probably try to get a satellite and, failing this effort, wld probably suggest or agree to a country like Indonesia. In any event, Eden concluded that although this para “could be improved” he simply cld not agree with us that it shld be made a breaking point with Menon. I took the contrary position.

With regard to para 17, we had a long discussion concerning the proposal to refer the question of the disposition of non-repatriated PWs to the peace conference. After I summarized our objections to this course, I pointed out that our formulation allowing 120 days wld in fact give to the Commies an opportunity to raise the question in the peace conference, provided it started on time. However, I said the essential distinction, in our view, was that the peace conference shld not be given any competence or jurisdiction by the Assembly to deal with this question, which was clearly not a political question concerning the future of Korea. Moreover, I repeated arguments previously made to Eden that we attached the most essential importance to disposing of the POW question prior to an armistice and that we refused to leave to the post-armistice period any problem of negot with the Commies re this issue. I reminded Eden that the Austral Govt felt just as strongly as we did on this point.

Eden and Lloyd took the contrary view. Eden said he felt it might be of value for the question to be referred to the peace conference, although he realized (as he pointed out he has said in his speech) that they cld not remain indefinitely in suspense or in captivity. Therefore, he has been urging Menon to put a “short-time period” into his res so that the peace conference wld in effect lose jurisdiction with regard to [Page 668] the PWs after a stipulated period. I tried without success to get from Eden specific indication of the time period he was suggesting to Menon, but he assured me it was a short one. He then added that it was not as long as six months.

With regard to releasing the PWs to the UN, Eden felt this was an important principle. He doubted that UNKRA “wld be accepted by the Commies”, but he himself raised no objection to the use of UNKRA for this purpose.

We then discussed the immediate tactical situation at considerable length. I told him that our analysis was that refusal on the part of the Brit to reach agreement with us now on textual amendments cld only be explained on the basis that they wished to retain freedom to make unilateral decision as late as possible concerning their position on the amendments or else that Eden had already decided that he wld support the Ind proposal no matter how it came out. Without denying this estimate, he said I shld add a third alternative; namely, by reason of continued persuasion of Menon, the latter wld agree to “acceptable amendments”. It was this purpose, after all, which Eden was attempting to accomplish and he criticized us again for underestimating its importance. With regard to the time problem, he expressed keen disappointment in our decision to have a mtg of the comite of 21 Sunday evening. He felt that if the comite were to meet, the Brit could not express agreement with our amendments which I had told him I was morally certain we wld circulate, although the Secretary of State wld have to make this decision in the light of my report to him Sunday a.m. Eden felt that if the matter were left to personal persuasion of himself and Pearson on Menon, there is at least “some chance” that Menon wld agree, but if action were taken by the group of 21, it wld make it “impossible” for Menon to accept the amendments. It was for this reason, said Eden, that he had attended yesterday’s mtg of the 21 in order to urge that no decision shld be reached at that stage.

He believed that Menon had sent the changes to New Delhi and wld have to await instructions. Lloyd doubted that Menon required instructions from New Delhi, but Eden said there was no need to speculate on this point since Menon professed the necessity to receive instructions.

The conclusion of our conversation was most sincerely frank. I repeated earlier expressions of the importance we attached to maintaining solidarity between ourselves. As Eden had pointed out earlier in the conversation, the US is bearing the overwhelming share of the burden in Korea. I said, “it seems to me you must give way on this.” Lloyd, in a friendly tone, asked how they cld give way if they believed as they did that a principle of great importance was on their side, namely, Indian support. I said that in a situation where judgments differed, “the jury must decide”. Eden, also in the friendliest manner, said, “I assume you mean we shld leave it to a vote of the 21” and I replied, “there [Page 669] must be some jury”, that it was impossible to have two juries decide the same question. In any event, I said we had to be free to proceed to advance our own point of view, to which we adhered with complete conviction.

I left with Eden copies of our amendments.

  1. Not printed (320/11–2252).
  2. For Pearson’s account of Eden’s annoyance that Gross had informed the press of this meeting, thus giving the impression that the visit was critical and perhaps that an ultimatum was to be delivered, see Pearson’s Memoirs, vol. 2, p. 329.