396.1–BE/2–1854: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Department of State

top secret

Dulte 88. For S/S and Phillips.1 Limit distribution. Regarding Dulte 51 and 86.2 Following is revised background briefing for USIA and press as to agreement for conference on Korea and Indochina. It should be treated as top secret until Secretary specifically authorizes its use3 which will be for background only without attribution. Former background briefing should be cancelled.

Verbatim text


The United States is committed to do all in its power to try to bring about by peaceful means the unification of Korea as an independent nation free to manage its own affairs under a representative form of government.

To that end the US and the other 15 United Nations members which fought in Korea and the Republic of Korea have been trying to bring into being the political conference which was contemplated by the Korean armistice agreement of July 27, 1953, and which in accordance with the recommendation in that agreement would have been held within three months.4

Actually, more than six months have gone by, and no progress whatever has been made. Not a single feature has been agreed to—either place or date or participants. The US sent an important mission to Panmunjom in an effort to break the deadlock by negotiations on the spot, but after months of futile talk, the negotiations have now lapsed.5

The US therefore felt that it should make a further effort here at the four power meeting. Item one of the agenda of the four power conference made this topic relevant.

An agreement has now been reached.

The first paragraph of the agreement commits the four powers to the need for establishing by peaceful means a unified and independent Korea as an important step toward the reduction of international tensions and the re-establishment of peace elsewhere in Asia. It is useful that the Soviet Union should be thus committed to the importance of Korea being unified and independent because of the fact that it seems that Communist China is in effect incorporating North Korea into China as a colonial province.

The second paragraph makes provision for a conference of all the countries directly concerned in one way or another in the fighting in Korea, without distinction among them. All the countries which contributed forces to the United Nations Command in Korea pursuant to the UN Security Council resolution of June 27, 1950, would be given an opportunity to take part along with the Communist regimes in China and North Korea, and the Soviet Union.

The composition of the Korean conference will be precisely as we sought it. The agreement would exclude the participation of “neutrals”6 in the projected conference. It accepts our choice of place, i.e., Geneva, which was our first suggestion.


The third paragraph deals with the extension of the peace conference method to Indochina. Paragraph 3 stipulates that the conference, in addition to Korea, will further discuss the problem of restoring peace in Indochina. On September 2, 1953, Secretary Dulles, in an address before the American Legion,7 said:

“We want peace in Indochina, as well as in Korea. The political conference about to be held relates in the first instance to Korea. But growing out of that conference could come, if Red China wants it, an end of aggression and restoration of peace in Indochina. The United States would welcome such a development.” The Associated States and other interested states including Communist China would be invited to attend this conference in addition to France, the US, the United Kingdom and Soviet Russia.

The concluding paragraph of the agreement makes clear that nothing envisaged by the resolution would involve the US in diplomatic recognition of the regimes which govern Communist China and North Korea.
The agreement involves an outright rejection of the Soviet thesis that the regime which governs Communist China should be [Page 17]brought into world councils on a general agenda as one of the so-called “five great powers.” It makes no mention of Formosa or UN membership. It treats the Communist regime as one which from the US standpoint remains unrecognized, one which is dealt with only on a de facto basis in relation to concrete local problems of war and peace where it is a necessary party. We maintain our refusal to give it any position of preferment, or to contribute to the enhancement of its authority and prestige. We are making an earnest effort to find a peaceful solution in Korea and Indochina. Communist China is offered every opportunity to cancel out her aggression in Korea and to cease her support of rebellion and aggression in Indochina.
The agreement fully sustains the principles which have guided the US in relation to Far Eastern matters. It evidences the US desire to have peace, but not to have peace at the price of concessions of principle. We are not committed to any course at the conference. We have not traded US performance against Communist promises. The outcome gives a heartening demonstration of the unity of the three Western countries, where matters of principle affecting their essential interests are involved. The insistent Soviet demand for inclusion of Communist China in a central group of five great powers to deal with questions affecting many parts of the world was emphatically rejected.

The Foreign Ministers of the United States, France and the United Kingdom were as one in seeking opportunity for honorable settlement by peaceful negotiation of the most pressing issues outstanding in the Far East. They were also as one in their refusal to permit the inclusion of extraneous issues.

  1. Joseph B. Phillips, Acting Director of the Office of Public Affairs, Department of State.
  2. Dated Feb. 8 and 17, respectively, from Berlin, neither printed. Telegram Dulte 51 contained background information for possible use in connection with developments at the Berlin Conference (396.1–BE/2–854). Telegram Dulte 86 transmitted the text of a Soviet revision of a British draft quadripartite communiqué on Korea and Indochina (396.1–BE/2–1754). The text in telegram Dulte 86 was substantially the same as that contained in the official communiqué issued on Feb. 18, the text of which is printed in the Department of State Bulletin, Mar. 1, 1954, p. 317.
  3. Authorization was granted in an unnumbered telegram from Secretary Dulles at Berlin transmitted subsequently on Feb. 18 (396.1–BE/2–1854).
  4. Article IV (par. 60) of the Armistice Agreement called for a conference within 90 days to settle the questions of withdrawal of foreign troops and peaceful resolution of the Korean situation (TIAS 2782; 4 UST 234).
  5. The U.S. Mission was headed by Arthur H. Dean who had by this time left Panmunjom and returned to the United States. For related documentation, see volume xv .
  6. At this point in the source text, the words “such as India” appeared, but they were lined out in pencil in accordance with instructions received in telegram Dulte 93, Feb. 18, from Berlin, to delete them (396.1–BE/2–1854).
  7. The text of Dulles’ address is in the Department of State Bulletin, Sept. 14, 1953, p. 339.