Matthews files, lot 53 D 413: Telegram

The Joint Chiefs of Staff to the Commander in Chief Far East (Clark) 1


JCS 931724. From JCS.

State has received info that cited resolution (text in msg to fol)2 or substance thereof might be raised at UNGA which reconvenes 24 Feb. State considers it would be to polit advantage of United States again to propose to Commies prior that date an immed exchange of sick and wounded POWs. JCS concur in this view. In reaching this dec consideration has been given to factors cited in ur CX 60418,3 and it has been concluded that at this time advantages of making offer outweigh risks involved.
Accordingly, unless you perceive serious objections thereto, you shld, at earliest practicable time and in any event prior to 24 Feb, transmit letter to Commie cdrs substantially as fols:

“Exec Cmte of League of Red Cross Societies, in resolution adopted in Geneva on Dec 13, 52, called on both sides in Korean conflict gesture of good will in first instance to take immed action in implementing Geneva Convs, by repatriating sick and wounded POWs in accordance with appropriate arts of Geneva Conv.

“As has been repeatedly stated to you in course of negots at Panmunjom UNC has from beginning been prepared to carry out provisions of [Page 786] Geneva Conv in regard sick and wounded POWs. In particular UNC remains ready immediately to repatriate seriously wounded and seriously sick POWs who are fit to travel in accordance with provisions of Art 109 of Conv.

“I wish to be informed whether you are prepared, for your part, to proceed immediately with repatriation of seriously sick and wounded POWs of UNC who are in ur hands. UNC In ofcrs will be prepared meet your In ofcrs to make necessary arrangements for impartial verification of the condition and for mutual exchange of such seriously sick and wounded, in accordance with provisions of Art 109 of Geneva Conv.”

Exact text ur communication and time of its transmission should be reported Wash so that press treatment can be coordinated.
You will note that Art 109 imposes obligation on each side to repatriate sick and wounded; presumably this obligation not necessarily contingent on similar action by other side. Any statement issued therefore should not state explicitly that we will not repatriate sick and wounded unless Commies do likewise. You might further note that same Art expressly provides that no sick or injured POW may be repatriated against his will during hostilities.
  1. A notation in Bradley’s handwriting on the draft of telegram JCS 931724 in JCS files read: “Approved by President 1630 hrs Feb 18/52 [53] ONB.”
  2. See telegram JCS 931742, infra .
  3. Dated Dec. 22, 1952, p. 716.