Memorandum by the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs (Johnson) to the Secretary of State1



  • Panmunjom Negotiations

I have just received a brief telephone report on the meeting last night.2 While progress appears to have been made, it is clear that it was not as great as represented by the press. While, as usual, the Communists’ statements are surrounded by obscurities it appears that the following is the present situation:

They are prepared to repatriate at Panmunjom both categories of sick and wounded.
They “reserve the right to ask for the accommodation in a neutral country” of those sick and wounded prisoners of war in the custody of the UNC who will not be “directly” repatriated.
They will require one or two days to furnish us with a figure on the number of sick and wounded they will repatriate.
They accepted the UNC nine point proposal on arrangements for the exchange as a “basis for discussion”, agreeing to some of the paragraphs and stating that the others “will have to be studied.”

While the pattern has not yet clearly emerged it appears possible that the Communists may attempt to use provisions of Article 110 of the Geneva Convention concerning the accommodation in a neutral country of certain categories of prisoners as the pattern for the disposition of other prisoners held by the UNC opposing repatriation. (For your ready reference, there is attached a copy of the text of Article 110 of the Geneva Convention.)

I will inform you as soon as the full text of last night’s meeting and the comments of the negotiators are received.3


Article 110

The following shall be repatriated direct:

Incurably wounded and sick whose mental or physical fitness seems to have been gravely diminished.
Wounded and sick who, according to medical opinion, are not likely to recover within one year, whose condition requires treatment [Page 884] and whose mental or physical fitness seems to have been gravely diminished.
Wounded and sick who have recovered, but whose mental or physical fitness seems to have been gravely and permanently diminished.

The following may be accommodated in a neutral country:

Wounded and sick whose recovery may be expected within one year of the date of the wound or the beginning of the illness, if treatment in a neutral country might increase the prospects of a more certain and speedy recovery.
Prisoners of war whose mental or physical health, according to medical opinion, is seriously threatened by continued captivity, but whose accommodation in a neutral country might remove such a threat.

The conditions which prisoners of war accommodated in a neutral country must fulfill in order to permit their repatriation shall be fixed, as shall likewise their status, by agreement between the Powers concerned. In general, prisoners of war who have been accommodated in a neutral country, and who belong to the following categories, should be repatriated:

Those whose state of health has deteriorated so as to fulfill the conditions laid down for direct repatriation;
Those whose mental or physical powers remain, even after treatment, considerably impaired.

If no special agreements are concluded between the Parties to the conflict concerned, to determine the cases of disablement or sickness entailing direct repatriation or accommodation in a neutral country, such cases shall be settled in accordance with the principles laid down in the Model Agreement concerning direct repatriation and accommodation in neutral countries of wounded and sick prisoners of war and in the Regulations concerning Mixed Medical Commissions annexed to the present Convention.

  1. A marginal note by O’Connor indicated that the Secretary of State saw this memorandum.
  2. The reference was to the Senior Liaison Group meeting which began at 11 a.m., Apr. 7, Korean time.
  3. The text of the Senior Liaison Group meeting minutes are found in telegrams Z 36197 and Z 36199, Clark to JCS, Apr. 7, 1953. (Matthews files, lot 53 D 413) For Clark’s comments on the session, see telegram CX 61799, infra.