795.00/5–1954: Telegram

The Ambassador in Korea (Briggs) to the United States Delegation


95. Sent Department 1204, repeated information Tokyo 712. Tokyo pass CINCUNC. For Smith from Dean. Acting Foreign Minister Cho called early this morning to see if we had received letter from President [Page 285] delivered last night, text of which is in Embtel 94, repeated Secretary of State 1203, Tokyo 711.1 Ambassadors Briggs and Dean called on President Rhee, Prime Minister, Acting Foreign Minister Cho at 11 a.m. Ambassador Dean delivered to President Rhee following letter:

“My dear Mr. President:

“On behalf of my government permit me to say I am deeply grateful at the very distinct progress we have made in discussing the proposed joint statement of principles.

“In the statement made by you as President of the ROK and John Foster Dulles, Secretary of State of our government, on July 27, 1953, you jointly said:

“‘There are no other agreements or understandings stated or implied resulting from these consultations other than those herein contained’.

“The ‘herein’ referred to draft mutual defense treaty between our two governments. That treaty has since been consented to by our Senate and is about to be formally published and ratified between our two governments.

“When Secretary of State Dulles was testifying before the US Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs he was asked if there were any secret agreements or understandings and he repeated the paragraph quoted above. The consent of the US Senate followed.

“We again recognize the inherent sovereignty of the ROK to deal with its own affairs in the territory now under its administrative control or hereafter recognized by our government as lawfully brought under its administrative control.

“In agreeing to the ‘specific arrangements for the withdrawal of non-Korean forces’ to which you must agree in subdivision 4 of the proposed statement of principles you will, of course, be exercising your own sovereign power, in so agreeing.

“As you know we are a signatory to the armistice agreement of July 27, 1953, and until it is lawfully superseded we must abide by its terms with which you also agreed to [sic] in the joint statement above referred to, to the extent therein set forth.

“We are also a signatory to the ‘declaration of the 16 nations’ relating to the armistice of July 27, 1953, in which we affirm that if there should be a renewal of armed attack against your government, challenging the principles of the UN, we will be prompt to resist.

“We believe the achievement of unity of Geneva on the basis of the statement of joint principles will enable us to command the respect of the free world and public opinion at home and will enable us promptly to carry into effect the recommendations of the Van Fleet investigation mission now in the Far East to the end that your army will be equipped to repel any attack.

“In addition you will have the mutual defense treaty. As to the elimination of subdivision 6, your government has already been recognized [Page 286] by the UN in its declaration of December 12, 1948, as the only sovereign government in Korea. The extension of your administrative control in North Korea will, of course, have to be established to other governments’ satisfaction and subdivision 6’s inclusion is useful, but I leave that to your good judgment.

“I am very sure it will not be in your or our interest to make the further commitment you suggest in your letter of May 18, 1954, but if you will agree promptly to the ROK being a party to the joint statement of principles at Geneva it will greatly encouraged the free world and redound to the joint benefit of our respective governments and permit us jointly to go forward on the tasks envisioned by you and President Eisenhower.

“I again urge the necessity of prompt action as the opportunity for us to act at Geneva may pass from our hands.

“With renewed admiration and respect, I am, Mr. President, Faithfully yours, Arthur H. Dean. Special Ambassador to Korea”.

President Rhee read letter out loud. President in substance said again had to have guarantee of US in secret letter from Ambassador Dean that if he marched north against the North Korean Communist Army after withdrawal of Chinese Communist Army we would support him, or we had to insert “North Korean Communist Army” in subdivision 4 as well as non-Korean forces.

We again explained tremendous advantage our side issuing joint statement of principles promptly and utter impossibility of having any secret agreements or understanding.

President Rhee said Secretary Dulles had assured him among our basic objectives was to bring about united and free Korea. He asked could we honestly and realistically believe we could have free elections in north if Chinese Communist Army remained or that he could ever extend his jurisdiction to north if that Army remained?

We again pointed out what the situation would be if no joint statement issued at Geneva with possible slow disintegration UN forces, grumbling American opinion at lack of unity and difficulty such fact imposed on administration in maintaining ROK Army at appropriate level capable of resisting attack.

President very amicable and reasonable aside from renewed attack on economic aid program and Japanese. He said we were really wasting our time in further discussions unless we were either prepared (a) to bring about withdrawal North Korean Communist Army or (b) back him in a military move.

We again urged him essential necessity his cooperation in order that we could continue our cooperation and continued to emphasize his position made our ability to act much more difficult.

[Page 287]

Finally President said he would discuss further with his Cabinet officers and expressed appreciation for the good nature with which the discussions had been conducted on both sides.2

  1. Supra.
  2. The following additional information was imparted in telegram 97 from Seoul to Geneva, also sent to the Department of State as telegram 1206, May 19:

    “In description meeting with President Rhee this morning contained Embtel 1204 neglected to state with reference to Rhee’s desire delete from paragraph three words ‘supervise and’, we this morning agreed to this deletion with insertion however of reference to 1950 UNGA resolution. Phrase in question now reads, ‘UNCURK shall observe the elections in accordance with UNGA resolution of 7 October 1950, which shall et cetera’.” (795.00/5–1954)