795.00/5–3154: Telegram

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


1272. Repeated information Tokyo 755, Geneva 140. Geneva for USDel; Tokyo pass CINCUNC. Reference Embtel 1247, May 26, repeated [Page 328] Geneva 127, Tokyo 739. President Rhee in accordance conversation has today sent me letter dated May 29 addressed to Ambassador Dean. Text follows.

“My Dear Mr. Ambassador:

I have received your two letters of May 20.

One of the matters you mention is the Van Fleet mission and the build-up of ROK armed forces. As you say, General Van Fleet’s investigating mission has to be approved by the US Government, but I am sure you are fully aware that the planned increase of ROK armed strength is very much in the interests of the US as well as Korea.

I would like to point out that, in the years of 1948–1950, if the US Government had granted our request to build-up ROK armed forces, the war, with all the American casualties, might have been avoided.

The State Department of the US declared, more than once, that Korea had no strategic value to the US and therefore was not included in the American defense perimeter which extended only to Japan and the Philippines. Later events proved this judgment an error. America sent its troops to help defend Korea, demonstrating that Korea had some value for America. Meanwhile, General Van Fleet quietly trained and equipped Korean manpower which now holds nearly two-thirds of the front line. I believe the authorities in America have come to realize that the ROK defense forces are of inestimable value and help in fighting the Communist aggressors and President Eisenhower has seen the wisdom of strengthening such forces.

[Here follow several paragraphs of the source text which were excluded from this publication at the request of the Republic of Korea Government.]

With regard to the proposed Geneva statement of general principles we asked you to insert in paragraph four the words ‘including the North Korean armed forces’. Our Foreign Minister, Doctor Pyun, without approval, (due to the delay in exchange of messages), presented a proposal which was made public. I could, of course, recall him and announce that he had exceeded his authority, but my further thought is to let the matter ride until such time as circumstances may force us to make our position public. I am sure our friends will agree with us that as long as any Communist armed forces remain in Korea, either Korean or Chinese, free elections will be impossible.

With personal regards. Yours sincerely, signed Syngman Rhee”.