396.1–GE/2–154: Telegram

The Ambassador in Korea (Briggs) to the Department of State


842. Repeated information Tokyo 519. Tokyo pass CINCUNC and CAG. In lengthy written interview with INS President Rhee expressed himself on Geneva Conference and problems facing ROK and free world in battle against Communism. Interview preceded by presidential statement appealing to American opinion to recognize struggle for freedom and unification Korea in fact struggle for freedom America and world.

Tenor of Rhee’s comments re prospects for success Geneva conference wholly pessimistic. He reiterated well-known views re ROK willingness to give US and UN chance at peaceful attainment objectives in Korea but stressed conviction Communists will never yield anything in negotiations and force only instrument they understand. Rhee expressed hope continuing Communist intransigency will finally open eyes free world to fact latter gaining nothing and losing much by continuing conferences with enemy. He attacked conditions for proposed Geneva conference strongly, particularly USSR status as inviting power rather than belligerent, alleged move in direction recognition Red China and opportunity provided for Communist stalling. He concluded Geneva merely another trap such as Panmunjom and said US-UN gained only one point at Berlin that was demanded at Panmunjom, namely, conference location; he characterized Berlin agreement as “allied-backed site for Communist-supported conference” and stated it saves Soviets enhanced prestige and escape from censure for responsibility in launching Korean war. Questioned whether he was consulted re Big Three strategy at Berlin he stated Secretary Dulles informed him he was not unmindful of Korea’s [Page 25]interests and cited remarks at Berlin to effect only way to peace was through political conference envisaged by armistice agreement. Rhee added he was startled therefore to learn Secretary Dulles agreed to another type conference and was hailing it as triumph for free world.

Rhee replied at length to inquiry whether ROK would wait to see conference results before taking unilateral action unify Korea. He made no attempt set new deadline but inquired how long must he wait before his allies realize conference merely stalling tactic and there will be no peaceful withdrawal Chinese Communist forces from Korea and no unification through free UN-supervised election. He concluded that if allies continue to ignore Communist strategy of delay ROK will have to resort to action of its own. He pointed out once again plight of people in north and criticized US pull-out of forces from Korea at moment when Reds bringing war matériel into Korea in violation armistice agreement, adding he does not ask US-UN forces to remain if they do not wish to but only that they give equipment and assistance in training ROK forces to carry on free world’s struggle against Communism.

Rhee’s interview, which combines reiteration already-known views on dealing with Communists with their specific application to Geneva conference proposal, is eloquent appeal to American opinion and contains no new clue to whether ROK will accept invitation. It is apparent Rhee is deeply disappointed and dissatisfied with Berlin agreement which he regards as unbaptized off-spring resulting from original sin, that is, 1953 armistice agreement. In this connection local press during last few days has given prominence to reports of US Congressional criticism proposed Geneva conference and it is apparent Rhee watching closely to see whether substantial American opinion might support his continuing to oppose conference.