Memorandum of Conversation, by the Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs (Robertson)



  • President Rhee’s Letter of February 4 to President Eisenhower1


  • His Excellency You Chan Yang, Korean Ambassador
  • Mr. Walter S. Robertson, Assistant Secretary, FE
  • Mr. Robert J. G. McClurkin, Acting Director, NA

Mr. Robertson said that he was greatly concerned about the letter of February 4 from President Rhee to President Eisenhower. Ambassador Yang said that he had just returned to Washington and had not yet seen the letter.

Mr. Robertson said that he had personally taken the responsibility for not delivering the letter to President Eisenhower because of his own friendship for Korea and because of the friendship which he knew President Eisenhower has for Korea. He had refrained from delivering the letter because he believes that it is a letter which could do serious [Page 1750] harm to the relations between the United States and the Republic of Korea. Whatever President Rhee’s intentions, the letter is not only insulting but an incredible one from the head of a State for which the United States has done so much.

Mr. Robertson said that we have noted with concern and dismay other abusive statements about the United States which have been made by President Rhee and by other Korean Government spokesmen both in the Republic of Korea and outside—for example, a recent release in London. He emphasized that the United States was not objecting to the Koreans having firm convictions about the problems of the free world or to their expressing them.

Ambassador Yang said that frankly his sentiments were in general accord with Mr. Robertson’s, but he could understand President Rhee’s feeling of tension and despair. President Rhee sees the German and Austrian situations getting nowhere in years of talking, and he fears that Korea likewise may remain indefinitely divided. So far as the letter is concerned, however, Ambassador Yang said he was glad that Mr. Robertson had held it up. Ambassador Yang then said he would report this whole conversation frankly to President Rhee in the hope that the letter might be modified.2

  1. Ante, p. 1745.
  2. According to a memorandum by O’Connor to Robertson, Dulles informed Eisenhower on Feb. 24 that President Rhee had withdrawn his letter. (795B.11/2–2554)