795.00/5–1954: Telegram

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


1210. Repeated information Tokyo 718, Geneva 101. Priority for the Secretary and Under Secretary from Dean. With meeting this morning described in Embassy telegram 1204,1 negotiations with President Rhee appear to revolve about one single apparently unsoluble topic with Rhee continuing demand commitment to support him in march north as price for agreeing to general principles favoring overall elections with prior withdrawal North Korean Communist Army.

In discussing matter with Briggs, we agree only ammunition this far unused, if it be ammunition, is to inform Rhee politely but firmly, that our government does not propose to resume Korean war for purpose unifying Korea. We could state that unification of Korea under Republic of Korea still remains our basic objective and we intend work sincerely toward that objective by every means short of war. This, of course, may mean shorter or longer period during which Korea remains un-united and, in fact, actual unification may have to await some broader settlement between Communist and non-Communist world than settlement limited to Korean Peninsula alone. While we have most profound sympathy for all Rhee’s views concerning unification, fact remains to seek it once more by force of arms is not consonant with our present global and strategic responsibilities.

Such presentation, if deemed advisable, might perhaps be accompanied by suitable explanation our Asian strategy and expectations in immediate future, stressing that we shall continue to support Republic of Korea as long as that government really works with us, maintains mutual security pact as insurance against renewed Communist aggression, and seeks to rebuild Republic of Korea economy, as well as to [Page 293] assure Republic of Korea military establishment capable of resisting armed aggression, pending arrival United States support.

At some stage of this presentation it might be necessary to describe position of Japan in Far East strategy and necessity for Republic of Korea taking steps toward settlement outstanding difficulties with Japan, though currently this issue and necessity foreign aid purchase in Japan are highly explosive ones with Rhee.

It must be clearly realized that this kind of approach to Rhee without some definite quid pro quo as outlined our 1155,2 although perhaps overdue in our discussion with him, will in all probability not be well received at end of over three weeks of daily negotiations, even though it must be made some day. It is outlined here so that you may follow our current thinking, and as possible solution admittedly difficult situation. We really believe, however, Rhee’s fear of Communist infiltration from north is so basic, we must either find some solution, or admit inability obtain agreement.

  1. Same as telegram 95, May 19, p. 284.
  2. Dated May 11, p. 244.