396.1 GE/6–1154: Telegram

Fourteenth Plenary Session on Korea, Geneva, June 11, 3:05 p.m.: The United States Delegation to the Department of State1


Secto 425. Repeated information Tokyo 128, London 269, Moscow 217, Paris 421, Seoul 123. Tokyo pass CINCUNC. Department pass Defense. Fourteenth Korean plenary Friday June 11, Molotov presiding, opened with speech by Chou En-lai. Chou stressed desirability of noting those points on which conference has already achieved agreement and those points where agreement may be possible. Then conference should proceed to discuss points of differences so as reach agreement. He proposed that conference adopt Molotov’s June 5 proposals as basis for further discussion and he went on to rehash arguments [Page 362] for all-Korean commission. Claimed US opposed to commission because US wants to impose ROK will on DPROK, which failed to do in war.

PROC cannot accept UN supervision since UN is a belligerent. It would be “inconceivable” that PROC or DPROK could agree to this.

NNSC has had its problems. These have been caused, not by Polish and Czech representatives, but because US has violated armistice on many occasions. US not only wants to prevent agreement on Korea, but wants to disband NNSC so that the US can proceed with arming ROK. Moreover, US objects to an NNSC in Indochina so as to keep war going there.

He closed by stating that peaceful settlement of Korea was closely related to peace in entire world. He claimed conference already achieved agreement on several points and no reason why conference should not continue. World opinion would not permit conference to break off.

Ronning of Canadian delegation devoted opening part his speech2 to answering “challenge” of Communist delegation to authority of UN. Voicing Canada’s unqualified support of UN as “preeminent international agency for making and keeping peace”, he expressed belief any agreement on Korean unification must be in accordance UN principles. If conference cannot reach agreement on procedure for unifying Korea, UN will continue effort with Canadian support. Ronning then stressed danger of agreement on generalized principles when there remain serious questions as to meaning and details. Canada would like to be able to agree to Molotov’s proposals, but this would be dishonest, since so many essential questions of detail are unresolved. In long run, it is more important to register actual disagreement on fundamental points than to fool people of world by indicating agreement on broad and fuzzy principles.

New Zealand delegate then spoke,3 pointing out spirit of give and take was lacking in Communist delegation, especially on issues vital to cause UN members pledged to uphold. He continued in much same vein as Ronning. Although could agree with platitudinous statements of Molotov, free world has learned to examine such statements for their real meaning. It would be of little service to world if agreement was reported on these broad principles when there exists, in fact, fundamental disagreement on the basic issue of the preparation for and conduct of free elections. NNSC was an experiment in international cooperation—one that did not work, may have been disastrous and is not likely to be repeated. By abandoning their perverse attitude toward [Page 363] the UN, the PROC could open up way for a settlement of Korean problem and for wider settlement of Far Eastern problems. By deliberate design Communists have made acceptance versus denial to UN key issue both for Korean settlement and for the reconciliation of China with majority of nations.

Nam-Il followed with comparatively short speech which (a) emphasized that there was general agreement many questions of principle; (b) endorsed Molotov draft resolution of June 5; and (c) replied to General Smith’s indictment of NNSC. In supporting Molotov resolution, Nam-Il reiterated Communist position on all-Korean commission, withdrawal foreign forces prior election, international supervisory commission and guarantee peaceful development Korea by interested states. Blaming US military authorities for difficulties NNSC in Korea, Nam-Il alleged North Koreans had completely cooperated while UN command violated armistice and obstructed work of commission.

Eden then spoke,4 pointing out two fundamental issues before conference are authority of UN and question of free all-Korean elections. In Korea UN demonstrated its worth as organization for implementing collective security. Only by carrying out purpose and principles of UN charter can conference find solution to Korean question. Far from having lost its moral authority by its actions in Korea, UN by defending ROK against aggression, strengthened its authority.

While all say we agree must unify Korea by free elections, we do not agree on methods and procedures. This is same difference in principle which we faced in Berlin. Impartial international supervision essential for truly free elections. Supervisory commission must be so composed that it can take effective decisions and must have authority carry them out. UN is most appropriate body from which to choose impartial international commission. If all-Korean commission which gives veto to North Korean Communist minority, has main responsibility for elections result would be no elections or elections which not free. Communist proposal for NNSC supervision not only leaves unaltered all-Korean commission, but is same type which already unsatisfactory.

How does Molotov’s draft resolution help since it is just on methods of application where we differ. UK stakes stand on principles UN authority and free elections. If no way found resolving differences on these two issues, must admit conference unable complete its task. As UN members we should then report back that organization. This would insure search for political settlement in Korea could be resumed at right moment.

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Thai delegate in brief speech expressed view UN supervision over free elections was essential. Draft resolution of Soviet delegation is unacceptable because it is a “skeleton” rather than plan for settlement. Thai delegation cannot agree to establishment of commissions without their composition and duties being known beforehand.

Spaak then made eloquent extemporaneous speech5 with much dramatic force. He noted that conference had come to “decisive” stage. Molotov’s speech was of considerable importance, but was too optimistic in its claims of agreement on many issues. Agreement possible in principle, but so many matters of detail remain unsettled that there are still many important divergencies. If UN ignored in Korean settlement it would doom both concept of collective security and UN organization. Among 60 member countries in UN it would be possible find panel of impartial nations acceptable to both sides. At close of speech Spaak said he had tried to put his thoughts in writing and read following:

“In order to prepare and to organize free general elections throughout Korea, the UN shall appoint a commission, members of that commission will be selected impartially in order to enjoy the trust from both sides involved. That commission shall act in close cooperation with the representatives of the ROK and with those of the DPROK. The questions pertaining to the final constitution and other terms of reference of that body shall be the subject of a supplementary consideration.”

He said if Molotov could embody such text in his proposal Geneva conference would make decisive step forward. If not, then we must face conclusion expressed by Eden today.

Bidault who had not previously indicated he was going to speak and inscribed himself late in the session spoke last.6 He pointed out France could not subscribe to attacks on UN. He noted that Molotov’s proposal was designed to obscure disagreement on fundamental issues. Emphasized that French delegate was moved by a spirit of reasonableness and desire to compromise in both facets of conference. He closed by stating his delegation “adheres in principle to ideas enunciated by one of our presidents, which may be summed up as follows:

  • “1. Korea, within her historical frontiers, should be united as a free, independent and democratic state.
  • 2. To this end, elections should be held throughout the territory of Korea to establish a single and really representative government for the whole of the country.
  • 3. The elections should be carried out under conditions of true freedom under international supervision.
  • 4. The settlement of the Korean question should make provision for the withdrawal of foreign forces.
  • 5. When once the unification has been carried out under number maximum conditions, the UN would be called upon to give their sanction to this settlement thus reached”.

Comment: Communists may seize on Bidault’s closing statement as invitation to continue Korean phase. Bidault’s 5 points bear close resemblance to Eden’s statement of “basic principles” in May 13 Korean plenary, although 5th point seems to be Bidault’s very own. USDel had no prior knowledge contents French speech.

  1. A set of minutes of this meeting (US Verb Min/14) is in FE files, lot 55 D 481. The minutes indicate that the meeting convened at 3:05 p.m. and adjourned at 7: 20 p.m.
  2. For the text, see The Korean Problem at the Geneva Conference, pp. 154–161.
  3. For the text of McIntosh’s statement, see ibid, pp. 161–165.
  4. For the text, see The Korean Problem at the Geneva Conference, pp. 165–168.
  5. For the text, see The Korean Problem at the Geneva Conference, pp. 168–173.
  6. For the text, see ibid., pp. 173–174.