795.00/5–554: Telegram

DeanBriggsRhee Meeting, Seoul, May 5, 2 p.m.: The Ambassador in Korea (Briggs) to the United States Delegation


48. Sent Department 1119, repeated information Tokyo 659, Tokyo pass CINCUNC. For the Secretary and Smith from Dean. Re Embassy telegram 1115, repeated Geneva 45.1 Ambassadors Briggs and Dean saw President Rhee, Prime Minister, Acting Foreign Minister Cho and Minister Defense at 2 o’clock. Again presented reasons why we felt essential modify instructions to Pyun and authorize presentation plan B. Their reasons against were (1) plan derogates from sovereignty of ROK Government, (2) no authority to have elections proposed by plan under ROK constitution, (3) announcement of such new elections for Assembly and President would cause great consternation in Korea and cause ordinary people to believe Communists gaining so much this concession was demanded by Communists, (4) in effect we are asking Rhee to resign, (5) utterly impossible to hold elections while Chinese Communist forces in Korea and Soviets constitute mass threat on border and unless ROK gets complete administrative control of North Korea before elections take place.

We again pointed out very important that American public opinion should not believe there is any lack of cooperation between ROK and US at Geneva and essential present plan commanding respect and constitution amendable.

[Page 206]

After much discussion and against arguments of Prime Minister and Defense Minister, President Rhee tentatively agreed following draft:

  • “(1) Upon the condition that the Chinese Communist forces withdraw from Korea;
  • “(2) Upon the promise of the Chinese Communists and the USSR that they will not re-enter Korean territory with armed forces and again become aggressors against Korea, then the ROK is willing to undertake that pursuant to ROK constitution and its electorial laws, free and democratic election, without Communist or outside interference for the National Assembly and the President of Korea shall be held in North and South Korea under the observation of the UN”.

Term UN rather than UNCURK used because President objects to that organization and we let pass this afternoon in hopes to get an agreement on principle. Also realize USSR not declared aggressors.

After above agreed draft was typed President insisted there should be inserted after “aggressors against Korea” words to following effect “and if US stands by us”.

Pointed out that Korea already had military defense pact although Acting Foreign Minister Cho indicated they are somewhat concerned that it had not been formally ratified and published and President indicated there was certain amendments to it which they wish discuss. (See Embassy telegram 1107, May 3.2) Did not seem advisable to mention to him joint declaration of July 27, 1953 in Washington of 16 UN members contributing troops to respond in case of aggression but pointed out did not seem appropriate to refer to any agreement with US in proposed presentation of plan B at Geneva or in effect to use language which would appear to commit US beyond precise text mutual defense pact already ratified by Senate. President left matter to Ministers to decide.

Prime Minister and Defense Minister again argued publication of this draft would cause great consternation in Korea and would afford Communists much propaganda. Seemed quite obvious President was trying to extract some further promise and was tiring. So after two hours ended discussions this afternoon and arranged to see him tomorrow. Discussion friendly.

Would appreciate knowing status mutual defense pact and whether any serious discussions for its amendment under way and suggestions above language.

In going over above draft with President, President fully appreciates not in accord plan B I and IV. President is thoroughly familiar [Page 207] so-called free elections with Soviet troops present in Europe and extremely difficult, if not impossible to sell them idea of elections in North if Chinese Communist troops present or North Korea Communist troops have not been disarmed. He considers this complete appeasement.

Reference plan B in view President’s dislike of UNCURK would suggest elimination last sentence plan. After some unified and sovereign government established in Korea, why should UNCURK function further in Korea?

In IV would suggest using term “unification” rather than “reunification” and standard terminology such as “unified Korea” or “unified government of Korea” throughout rather than “all-Korean Government” which conveys idea of coalition.

In III A suggest revision so as not to indicate ROK government not presently legitimate government in Korea or that new government is necessarily formed.

  1. Dated May 5, p. 202.
  2. Not printed. For documentation on the mutual defense treaty, see volume xv. The treaty was signed on Oct. 1, 1953, but did not enter into force until Nov. 17, 1954. The text is printed as TIAS No. 3097 in 5 UST 2368.