396.1 GE/5–1154: Telegram
The United States Delegation to the Embassy in Korea
64. Repeated information Tokyo 45, Department Secto 170. Department pass Defense. Toyko for CINCUNC. For Van Fleet and Hull from Smith. Rhee’s refusal agree so far on draft proposal apparently based primarily on his attitude re withdrawal non-Korean forces creating increasingly difficult situation here. Key point is his insistence Chinese Communist forces be withdrawn and North Korean forces [Page 252] demobilized before elections. This position totally unrealistic since neither ROK nor United Nations in position victor in Korea. Rhee must made realize insistence on total Chinese Communist withdrawal can only mean concurrent total UN withdrawal.
It is possible that part his tactic is to use this position as bargaining lever to get commitments on further military assistance. He has not perhaps fully considered dangers to ROK in complete United Nations withdrawal before testing Communist performance on unification Korea, assuming any agreement here and implementation of agreement possible.
I would appreciate anything you may be able to do to explain frankly to President Rhee from military standpoint problems involved withdrawal all non-Korean forces before elections.
In addition point outlined above, following considerations might be advanced:
- Our basic objective here is to challenge Communists with constructive workable plan for achieving free unified Korea which Communists probably will never accept.
- We do not consider total Chinese Communist withdrawal before elections as crucial element in unification plan if we obtain acceptance principles outlined paragraph II our draft proposal. Later provisions designed to insure, among other things, safeguards against interference by foreign forces in elections.
- In reality we are compelled choose between total simultaneous withdrawal before elections, with danger Communists upsetting situation after United Nations withdrawal, or concurrent phased withdrawal before and after elections to protect against non-performance by Communists but with danger Communist forces might frustrate free elections.
We have accordingly sought formula along lines paragraph IV draft proposal which would require withdrawal bulk Communist forces before elections but would leave UNC in south, although reduced in size, during and after elections in event Communist failure implement unification agreement.