795.00/5–553: Circular telegram

The Secretary of State to Certain Diplomatic Offices1


1087. Korean Briefing Meeting May 5. Hickerson reviewed developments plenary meetings May 2, 4–5 and liaison group meeting May 2.

[Page 974]

At first, Communists continued insist first step was agreement upon principle of sending non-repatriates to neutral state, after which they would nominate neutral. However, Communists mentioned India, Burma, Pakistan and Indonesia as suitable Asian neutrals. UNC maintained essential decide first upon neutral custodian, emphasized suitability Switzerland, Sweden as competent neutrals, and repeated UNC would not transport PWs outside Korea. On May 3 [4] UNC nominated Pakistan as custodial neutral. Communists refused comment on nominee and continued maintain prerequisite to agreement on nomination was decision send non-repatriate to neutral, arguing only in this way could military control of detaining power be thoroughly removed. However, at May 5 meeting, Communists without accepting Pakistan said UNC action nominating Pakistan “worth welcoming” and noted issue was whether non-repatriates should be sent to neutral nation or be taken into neutral custody in Korea. In this connection Communists inquired what UNC had in mind re machinery neutral custody in Korea: what steps would be taken to remove military control detaining side to free PWs from its influence; how would neutral effectively take charge of PWs in Korea; how would UNC maintain order in PW camps; whether UNC intended invite neutral send armed forces to Korea to take PWs into custody. UNC noted questions but said no need discuss details prior agreement on neutral.

Hickerson suggested Communist questions re neutral custody in Korea slightly hopeful sign, although he cautioned Communists had not yet abandoned position that non-repatriates must be transported outside Korea. He informed group confidentially that while it remained US view agreement on neutral should be reached before other questions taken up, General Harrison instructed to meet Communists half way and tell them in general terms what UNC has in mind, specifically, that UNC prepared have neutral take full control security and administration all PWs, though naturally details must be worked out and agreed neutral consulted.

At liaison group meeting, UNC repeated request that Communists fulfill obligations under Geneva Convention and April 11 agreement by repatriating additional sick and wounded PWs, of whose continued custody UNC had indisputable evidence. Communist representative insisted all qualified sick and injured PWs fit to travel had been repatriated, emphasizing Communists had repatriated 684, rather than original 600 estimate. He claimed UNC disregarding facts and using “unreliable and unfounded information” for asserting sick and injured PWs remained in Communist custody. UNC repeated UNC had “irrefutable evidence” [Page 975] that Communists still held many PWs eligible for repatriation and UNC insisted these PWs must be repatriated.

  1. This telegram, drafted by Brown and cleared by Hickerson, was a summary of a briefing meeting of the 15 nations with fighting troops in Korea held on May 5. A more complete account can be found in a memorandum of conversation by Brown, May 5, 1953, not printed. (795.00/5–553) This telegram was sent to the same posts as circular telegram 1066; see footnote 1 p. 950.