396.1 GE/6–154: Telegram

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

top secret

1278. Repeated information Tokyo 758, niact Geneva 144. Re Geneva’s 107 (Dulte 137 to Department).1 In existing circumstances I agree that anything short of “complete and unconditional termination” at Geneva will probably create major problem with ROK. That, however, has been inherent in Rhee’s attitude ever since last year when we insisted on armistice, against his passionately held conviction that stalemate on battlefield would not lead to unification of his country within predictable time. All Rhee’s views—toward POW exchange, toward neutrals and neutralism, toward Communist advance into Southeast Asia, toward fall of Dien Bien Phu, and now toward his exclusion (as he sees it) from forthcoming Washington military talks2—derive in substantial measure from Rhee’s hatred of armistice and his belief that whatever develops from deadlock created by armistice, time is running out.

If we ever had any doubts on that score, four weeks of almost daily negotiations with Rhee while Ambassador Dean was here ought to have dissipated them.

As Rhee views it from Seoul, clean break at Geneva with no leftovers and no cold salad gathering mould in UN icebox is least unproductive result likely to follow conference deliberations. Moreover, anything that Rhee interprets as temporizing or appeasement will multiply possibility he may publicly denounce Geneva thereafter withdrawing ROK delegation.

Foregoing is not intended to imply that clean break at Geneva would solve problem of ROK post conference behavior. Fuzzy ambiguous [Page 337]break would, however, make Rhee more difficult to deal with in immediate future than clean one.

Deptel 968 (to Tokyo 2656, to Geneva Tosec 316)3 just received. I concur with views expressed therein especially introductory paragraphs and numbered paragraphs 1, 3 and 4.

  1. Supra .
  2. For related documentation, see volume xii
  3. Dated May 31, p. 326.