795.00/12–153: Telegram

The Representative for the Korean Political Conference (Dean) to the Department of State

top secret

122. Repeated information Seoul, Tokyo, CINCUNC, New Delhi unnumbered. Reference my telegram 120; Department’s telegram 111.2

Suggest for your further over-all consideration whether or not it is really our own best interest, in light present situation, for us continue pressing for PC convening immediately. Now that we have apparently convinced Thimayya on our ideas PW timetable, might be wise let PW question work itself out to point, according to our fixed timetable, when (1) non-repatriated PWs have been released from custody and moved South out of demilitarized zone, (2) Indian custodial forces safely withdrawn from Korea without incident, and (3) NNRC out of existence February 22. Assuming this all happens satisfactorily and according to plan, presume major daily irritant on ROK side of Indian troops on Korean soil in charge of prisoners and major problem for India will be removed. Notwithstanding what Communists may charge or attempt in UNGA or elsewhere concerning PW question, atmosphere would be somewhat clearer for PC to convene and concentrate on real question of peaceful settlement.

If it convenes during period prisoner exchange Communists will undoubtedly attempt use it as propaganda sounding board reciting alleged murders, intimidation prisoners wishing repatriation, presence Kuomintang and ROK agents, smuggling of radios, messages, etc., for some of which charges there is, unfortunately, some vestigial basis.

[Page 1630]

As it becomes clear unification cannot be achieved in any event by military means, and no successful move unilaterally, ROK might just possibly moderate present totally negative policy on PC and be willing to cooperate with us concerning it. Even Communists might come round to accept some reasonable formula on withdrawal of forces. Meanwhile, onus clearly on Communists, particularly Chinese, for preventing PC.

As I have indicated, and as I think will become increasingly clearer, I believe little chance PC can actually work out satisfactory unification and territorial agreements respect free United Korea. By March 1st we should know whether Rhee will really cooperate Wood on economic policy and with us on Japanese policies and reference India or will continue present policy almost complete non-cooperation in economic rehabilitation and Japanese relations, and we will know whether ratification defense pact advisable. Believe Soviet is holding back on PC now. Chinese complete domination over North Koreans evidenced our talks, and at MAC meetings, and at NNSC observation teams in North Korea, Chinese and Russian public plans rehabilitate North Korea, Russian rebuilding steel centers, Peiping’s terms 10-year agreement with NK, and economic and military importance Communist-controlled area contiguous Manchuria, Port Arthur area, and Vladivostok complex—all militate against peaceful objectives US, UN, and ROK in Korea. These factors may form basis apparent Communist opposition to PC in near future which they are cloaking under convenient pretext neutral nations which they know from armistice negotiations, and our categoric rejection, we cannot accept.

At same time I still believe firmly in importance holding PC some time near March or April. It would be tangible evidence to soldiers here and people at home we are constantly trying to bring peace. It would hold forth on keeping UN troops here longer. (… has made no secret to our military here that Pearson would welcome disagreement with us on make-up PC so as to put blame on us for not holding PC which would thus give Canadian Government strong justification for withdrawal Canadian troops reference both Canadian and American public opinion.) And most important, PC would provide US forum to present attractive, humane, appealing plans for future of Korea on realistic basis. I am sure we would capture imagination and support whole free world, particularly articulate opinion in Asia, and put ourselves in strong moral background against Communist rejection of such plans. If we cannot hold PC due to Communist intransigence and ROK stubbornness, at least we can set forth eloquently and clearly our objectives in Korea, and give us time to formulate them in PC.

Rhee is presently very querulous. Thinks he was tricked into armistice. Now thinks defense pact and economic program are dishonorable bribes to him not to unify Korea by force. US position unilateral hostilities [Page 1631] has deprived him of psychological release of sabre rattling and extreme anti-Communist jingoism and he feels let down and hurt. He sees his lifetime dream of a unified Korea rapidly fading. Although seems astonished [astonishing?] from our viewpoint, have distinct impression Rhee now feels free world does not deserve a fighting Korea, that rest of us have lost our courage to fight Communism and he would be glad to see us go. He recites in detail every bit of concession we made to get armistice and in working out demilitarized zone and he is convinced, if we do not fight, PC will merely result in yielding up one concession after another by our side to final surrender all Korea. Any constructive suggestions by us are, of course, outright concessions to Communists in ROK view. ROK Government utterly unable see or even attempt understand practical problems for other nations in maintaining their troops in Korea or our own problems. They think they are doing us a favor by allowing us here. ROKs uncontrollably emotional about whole matter, which in some ways is understandable. But this attitude is leading gradual paralysis US-ROK working partnership at this stage with Rhee believing that if he sufficiently intransigeant we will always back down. Have discussed this fully with Ambassador Briggs.

I again recommend carefully worked out statement in Washington or New York on our objectives. Whether Rhee will believe them or not, and he is very skeptical, it would at least give him sense of our purpose at PC and of our joint objectives in Korea which he now seems very upset about. He continually and repeatedly asks me why United States is abandoning its objectives Far East and what can we possibly accomplish at PC. Of course, I outlined objectives in general terms without mentioning buffer zone or guarantee territorial integrity or withdrawal foreign forces. I feel they could be given much more authority in statements or speeches Washington or New York.

Understand from Jim Greenfield, Time-Life correspondent here, that British Foreign Office has done considerable work along lines Deptel 343 and has released large parts of it to Times London office along lines Foreign Office position paper just received from Department.

All Communist tactics and propaganda past two weeks, particularly their usual Communist tactic twisting PW timetable around on us to charge we are stalling PC to hold PWs, seem at this point lead up to their breaking off, trying to put onus on us, and throwing PW and PC questions into UNGA, perhaps along Indian lines (Depte’s 108 and [Page 1632] 1094) where Communists would have larger propaganda sounding board for charges re POWs and much more pressure for neutrals etc. than these talks here. Mixing whole business up in UNGA would delay PC even longer and spread confusion.

On other hand, I feel we would be in strong position on PC and POW issues in view all efforts made on explanations, favorable attitude Indian NNRC members, and constructive proposals I have made in these talks.

Accordingly, in light all above, I am convinced our refusal to accept Soviet masquerading as neutral, attempting to use good offices as “harmonizer” at PC as so-called non-voting observer with right to take part in discussions without restriction and with no right either side to put matter to vote if any nation, including neutral, has different opinion, according to Communist proposal, gives us sound, clear, powerful issue for us to break on cleanly and emphatically at this juncture. Too much effort continue trying to seek formula acceptable to Communists may only serve to confuse that issue and cloud it up. We have gone pretty far already in attempting to slick over status of USSR as full participant not formally on either side but entitled vote and required be bound—in effect, almost a three-sided conference, with USSR in effect having veto power. No matter how we slice it, this bothers me because it gives Soviets special place and comparatively greater veto power at PC than any other representative. Therefore, I recommend, in view all the constructive proposals and flexible formulae we have already put forward on this issue, that we should go no further but stand firm and reiterate our position. If Communists make no constructive proposal, and if you agree Spring of 1954 is now better time to try for PC, and that immediate urgency is over, suggest we proceed along lines making no more proposals, build-up careful and destructive analysis their proposal, further re-affirm complete reasonableness our proposal and, assuming this feasible with Communists, attempt to carry on through UNGA recess of December 8. Then wait for Communists either accept or break off these talks, or recess them indefinitely.

  1. There was no time of transmission indicated on this telegram, which was received at the Department of State at 12:59 p.m., Dec. 1.
  2. In telegram 120 from Munsan-ni, Nov. 30, Dean suggested that the time was ripe for breaking off the preliminary Panmunjom talks; but the feeling in the Department of State, as expressed in telegram 111 to Munsan-ni of that same date, was that the talks should not be broken off or recessed until after Dec. 8 and Dean should then designate his deputy to continue the conversations. (795.00/11–3053)
  3. Telegram 34 to Munsan-ni was a repeat of telegram 1859 from London, Oct. 29, which summarized the principal points of the British position paper on the political conference as follows: 1. the United Nations should seize the initiative; 2. it should aim for the creation by peaceful means of a unified and neutral Korea; 3. it should avoid a joint North–South Korean Government before elections on the German model; 4. if unification proved impossible, it should attempt to reach a modus vivendi allowing for the withdrawal of a portion of UN forces; and 5. if all of the above failed, it should accept a continuance of the status quo. (795.00/10–2953)
  4. Neither printed. (795.00/11–2753)