396.1–GE/3–154: Telegram

The Acting Secretary of State to the Embassy in Korea1

confidential

707. Your 834 and 842.2 Following background information should be used as appropriate in early conversation with Rhee on Korean Political Conference. Three Western Powers at Berlin categorically and explicitly rejected concept of “five power” conference on Asia. Original Soviet proposal on agenda Item one at Berlin Conference envisaged “five power” conference to discuss Korean as well as other unspecified Far Eastern questions and to which other powers were to be invited from time to time by “Big Five”, composition depending upon particular question under consideration.

While Soviets thus attempted get at Berlin “Five Power Conference on Asian agenda”, they failed completely. Instead Soviets finally agreed to conference at Geneva “for the purpose of reaching a peaceful settlement of the Korean question” rather than for a general discussion of Asian problems and to composition of conference in conformity with Armistice agreement providing for political conference of two sides including only those participating in conflict—USSR as supplier of logistics is quasi-belligerent. Moreover Soviets dropped demand Red China be one of inviting powers and agreed it be invited [Page 27]as participant in Korea hostilities. USSR is not inviting power in sense it joins in extending invitation to all parties—USSR will invite only Chinese Communists and North Koreans. US inviting ROK and other participants.

As to Peiping participation in projected discussions on Indochina this agreed on basis Peiping’s qualifications “as interested party” resulting from its assistance Viet Minh and not on basis of “big power”. In order emphasize fact Red China at Geneva solely because its involvement Korea and Indochina, we insisted despite strenuous Soviet opposition on inclusion clear statement in Berlin resolution barring any implication recognition Red China.

While mindful of possible dangers pointed out by Pyun connection simultaneous discussion Indochina and Korean problem at Geneva, we think that by careful handling situation Pyun envisages can be avoided. You may assure Rhee U.S. does not intend allow Chinese Communist representatives gain de facto control of Geneva proceedings, and we wish consult fully with ROK both before and during conference on tactics to be followed as well as on substance.

Smith
  1. This telegram was repeated to Taipei and Tokyo and pouched to Rangoon, Djakarta, Saigon, and Hong Kong.
  2. Dated Feb. 25 and Mar. 1, respectively, pp. 22 and 24.