396.1 GE/6–1654: Telegram

Fifteenth Plenary Session on Korea, Geneva, June 15, 3:05 p.m.: The United States Delegation to the Department of State 1


Secto 451. Repeated information Seoul priority 131, Tokyo 139, London 289, Paris 440, Moscow 126. Tokyo for CINCUNC. Department pass Defense. Following is summary and [of?] final Korean plenary, June 15.

Nam Il was first speaker. In statement leading to a six-point proposal (full text sent Secto 449),2 Nam Il noted that US and countries [Page 377] subject to it rejected the June 5 proposals of the USSR, and that differences of opinion existed among the delegates primarily on question of Korean elections, but that nevertheless it was necessary to reach agreement on other questions since peoples of Korea and of world demanded lessening of international tensions. He asserted that conference should reach some agreement leading to peace in Korea. He went on to charge South Korea with continuing to threaten resumption of hostilities under US orders by having increased its army from 16 to 20 divisions and planning to add an additional 15 divisions. He claimed that if the US and South Korea really want to preserve peace, conference should make provisions for transition from the armistice situation to peaceful rapprochement between North and South Korea, withdrawal of foreign forces, reduction of domestic forces, and end of US blockade of North Korea. To this end, he said, his delegation tabled proposal.

Chou En-lai was second speaker. He regretted that US and other delegates following its lead had rejected constructive Nam Il April 27 and Molotov June 5 proposals and obstructed any agreement on peaceful unification of Korea. Said that ROK and some US leaders trying to undermine armistice and that ROK-US mutual defense treaty not “permissible”. Said remaining job was consider ways to convert present war situation in Korea to peace. Specifically endorsed today’s Nam Il proposals and recommended conference go into restricted session of seven (China, USSR, UK, US, France, DPROK and ROK) to consider “peaceful development of Korea”.

Molotov [said]3 Soviet delegation shares UK view desirability of arriving at agreement on basic principles which would be step forward in restoration Korean unity. Urged adoption Soviet delegation’s proposals. Noted that Soviet delegations proposals concurred in by [Page 378] DPROK and ROK and chided UN side for failing to submit constructive proposals of their own.

In referring to Canadian delegate’s statement June 11, Molotov accused him of giving up attempts to reach agreement on some subjects while at the same time ignoring the USSR proposal which attempted to do just that. Continued by chiding French delegate for statement also on June 11 adhering to views of Canadian delegate while submitting five-point proposal of his own which was more or less similar to the Soviet and UK proposals. Referred to Spaak’s reference that Soviet proposal mortal for UN and said Spaak forgets Geneva conference set up without help of UN and this not considered inadmissible by delegations here. Even Eden, he continued, did not refer on June 11 to his own earlier five-point proposal and was preoccupied only with the questions of elections and formation of a UN commission. Contended that authority of UN can be defended in several ways not all of which strengthen UN, and cited as example use of UN as cover for Korean aggression.

Molotov then went on to reiterate Soviet delegation’s views in support of all-Korea body to set up conditions for free elections, and registered his support for proposals of DPROK which would be first step in direction Korean unification. Specifically stated support of Soviet delegation for withdrawal of foreign forces within shortest possible period, reduction troop strengths in North and South Korea, formation of all-Korea commission to consider question of bringing about conditions for transition from state of war to peace and abolition by US and others of blockade and embargo of Korea. Called on conference to recommend that existence of treaties of a military nature between North and South Korea and other countries is incompatible with interests of Korean unification mentioning US-ROK mutual defense treaty specifically as means by which US planned using Korean territory as springboard for new military adventures. Stated that Soviet delegation supports formation of all-Korea commission for development of economic and cultural relations between North and South Korea. Concluded by submitting draft declaring: For possible adoption by conference (full text sent Secto 4494).

Chairman (Eden) noting no further speakers inscribed at moment was in process of calling for short recess when Garcia (Philippines) [Page 379] arose and moved for recess. See Secto 447 for account meeting 16 during recess.5

Following recess, General Smith made statement rebutting Molotov proposal, noting that existing armistice agreement is formal definitive arrangement with more force than declaration suggested by Molotov could have. (Full text follows in Secto 450.6)

Casey (Australia) made short trenchant rebuttal of today’s Nam Il and Molotov proposals.7 Said proposals designed to mislead public opinion from understanding that Communist obstruction reason why conference cannot reach agreement. Nam Il proposals equate aggressive North Korean regime and lawful, legitimate ROK. Molotov’s proposed resolution would reduce ROK defense strength to same level as North Korea which has only one-third population and would deny ROK treaty access to its friends while asking UN believe DPROK has no such link with Peiping. Noted in particular second paragraph Molotov resolution expresses confidence DPROK and ROK would act in interests of peace and that while we confident ROK will do so we have no such confidence about DPROK. Concluded that Communist statements today offered nothing new and nothing which could serve as basis further discussions.

Garcia (Philippines) then took floor and in an impassioned statement8 summarized the fundamental differences existing between Communist and non-Communist delegations, charging that Communist accusations against UN as belligerent in Korean war designed to be rejected, and concluded that after two months Communist position fundamental issues unchanged. He reaffirmed faith of Philippine delegate in UN and support for two basic principles upheld by non-Communist delegates. Maintained continued willingness to continue negotiations but asserted no purpose would be served unless Communists accept fundamental principles of free elections and control thereof [Page 380] by appropriate UN body. Said Philippine delegation wanted unified Korea but not at price of destruction of UN.

Spaak (Belgium), speaking fluently from notes,9 expressed hope that after conciliatory UN delegation speeches Friday10 and Eden’s grave warning headway could be made but hopes again dashed after Communist statements in first half of session. He referred to three charges made by Molotov:

That non-Communist delegates wanted to subject North Korea to South Korean enslavement;
That certain delegations wanted to end conference; and
That non-Communist delegates had not seriously considered his proposals. In refuting these charges, Spaak said:
We desire democratic elections in Korea wherein Korean people can express themselves freely;
It is not our desire to end conference but cause of peace will not be gained by interminable speeches; and
We have seriously considered Molotov proposals and commented on them last session. Further asserted Communists today had made no reply to fundamental questions asked of them in last session. Reiterated previous thought that if UN considered to be aggressor this would mean destruction of UN. In referring to Nam Il statement, said this no better than his earlier statement and dealt only with withdrawal of forces.

Spaak then mentioned that one delegation will read a final statement; that this delegation not most powerful among them which demonstrates principle equality of states. Said statement not intended to end discussions on Korea and referred to necessity of reporting back to UN on results since conference convened pursuant to UN resolution. Spaak then referred to supplementary proposal of Molotov which he thought would have good effect and to which he could give support except that, as General Smith had said, armistice agreement serves same purpose and states case better. Spaak cautioned against expressing same idea in two ways since this leads to confusion. Nevertheless, he said he was glad to note the text and its spirit and he was sure all were in agreement with it. The time had come, he continued, to separate, but in doing so all should realize that nothing was lost. When time has passed and passions have subsided parties can meet to discuss and reach agreement. He emphasized that conference work not useless and hoped all could meet again, re-examine situation, and establish conditions for unified, democratic, independent Korea.

Pyun (ROK), who inscribed during Spaak statement, briefly and cogently dissected Communist statements today on peaceful development [Page 381] of Korea as scheme for infiltrating ROK and diverting attention from primary subject of conference.

Prince Wan (Thailand) after short introduction read text 16-nation declaration on behalf of 16. Full text sent Tousi 79.11

Molotov, who inscribed while Wan reading declaration, then delivered relatively long and intemperate, partly extemporaneous, attack on 16, saving severest invective for ROK which he called “rotten, semi-Fascist, etc.”. Apparently speaking largely for benefit domestic Communist audiences, he denied “questions” posed by 16 had not been answered and asked whether 16 had hidden their previous proposals under their tables. Said only conclusion to be drawn from conference was that the 16 had tried to impose Rhee regime on DPROK through Geneva discussions, but failed and, therefore, obstructed any agreement and took clear initiative in ending talks. He specifically accused 16 of not studying today’s 16 [6]-point proposal of Nam Il, characterized Casey’s rebuttal of Nam Il as saying in effect that nothing which would strengthen peace in Korea is acceptable, and said Smith’s expression of surprise at resolution proposed today by Molotov to guarantee peaceful development of Korea inappropriate in view of talk coming from “Syngman Rhee regime” and elsewhere about crusade to conquer [DPROK by] war. In conclusion, said USSR now as always on the side of democratic forces and that USSR would continue fighting for them.

Chou En-lai spoke next, stating he could not agree with position in 16-nation declaration, repeated view that conference had nothing to do with UN and besides China denied rightful place in UN. Expressed regret 16-nation declaration announced determination to end conference. Chou went on to support Molotov proposal that states participating in conference issue declaration on Korean question and regretted even such a simple expression of common desire was rejected by Smith. Stated that despite differences of opinion conference has objective reaching certain agreements on unification of Korea and for this reason made following proposal, the rejection of which, he said, could only have an unfavorable effect on future international conferences:

“The states participating in the Geneva conference agree that they will continue their efforts toward achieving an agreement on the peaceful settlement of the Korean question on the basis of establishing a united, independent and democratic Korea.

As regards the question of the time and place for resuming appropriate negotiations, it shall be decided separately by the states concerned through negotiation.”

Nam Il then spoke deploring 16-nation declaration which said that conference should be ended. He recalled initial proposal of DPROK [Page 382] and his subsequent acceptance of Chou En-lai proposal on formation neutral commission to supervise elections. Referred also to DPROK acceptance Molotov proposal re agreement by conference on major questions of principle and noted that ROK and its supporters had rejected these proposals. Said that today ROK and its followers again turned down new proposals for establishment of peace in Korea thus showing other delegates trying to disrupt conference. Concluded by supporting proposal made by Chou En-lai earlier in session.

Prince Wan then addressed brief remarks with dignity and effectiveness to Molotov’s charge that the 16 were taking the initiative in breaking up conference. This, he rejected and denied saying Thailand and others of 16 will continue to work for unification of Korea on basis two fundamental principles set forth UN declaration.

Spaak then again intervened extemporaneously and stated that there appeared to be a misunderstanding. The proposals of Molotov and Chou En-lai, he said, did not contradict the declaration of the 16. None of the 16, he said, consider that their action calls into question continuation of armistice agreement or leads to resumption of hostilities. 16 appeared to differ with Molotov proposal in that they believe his idea is already in armistice agreement and that the same applies to Chou’s statement. If we separate now, he continued, we do not abandon Korean problem. Therefore, it was his opinion that disagreement should not be interpreted as rejection of initial Molotov and Chou proposals and that disagreement existed simply because these ideas were already embodied in armistice agreement and in 16-nation declaration.

In a brief intervention, Molotov registered support of USSR delegation for Chou En-lai proposal.

At this point, Lord Reading (UK) spoke in support of Spaak. He regretted conference had not made more progress but as 16-nation declaration said we have done everything possible. However, he continued, if we fail here we still do not abandon hope for the future. Spaak’s views, he thought, reflected those of signatories of 16-nation declaration.

Chou En-lai then asked for floor by raising PROC sign. Belgian Foreign Minister, he said, stated proposal of PROC was included in armistice agreement. This assertion was groundless. There is no provision in armistice agreement for calling on participants in Geneva conference to attempt settlement of Korean question. He said he had brought spirit of negotiation and conciliation to this, his first international conference, and if his proposal was rejected by “UNC side” he would regard fact with greatest regret and peace-loving people of world would pass own judgment.

[Page 383]

Rising to Chou’s bait Spaak again intervened stating he feared Chou had not listened carefully to what he had said. He did not say Chou’s proposal was included in armistice agreement but simply that it conformed to spirit of 16-nation declaration and also with his previous statement that if Geneva Conference met with no success conference should be prepared to seek a settlement at later date. UK delegate and others, he thought, shared this sentiment.

Chou En-lai then continued the exchange with Spaak and stated that if sixteen-nation declaration and proposal of PROC shared common desire then declaration of 16 is only one-sided statement. In Geneva Conference there are 19 states represented. Why not express desire of all in common statement. If not even this much agreement could be reached, he added sadly, he regretted to have had to learn this at the first international conference. Having risen to the bait Spaak then bit with a short statement expressing readiness to accept either a vote on or affirmation by the conference of Chou En-lai’s proposal.

Molotov then immediately intervened stating that the conference was about to wind up its consideration of the Korean question. It could do so by a one-sided or a joint decision. He then asked rhetorically if the conference was ready to make its decision reflect the views of all.

Eden, from the Chair, apparently realizing that the exchange had already gotten out of hand then asked somewhat unhelpfully if he could accept as the [sense of] the delegates that the proposal of PROC expressed spirit of the conference.

General Smith immediately took the floor with statement (repeated in Secto 450)12 to effect that this conference could not accept responsibility for settlement of Korea question indefinitely since it is not a permanent body. He was not prepared accept Chou’s proposal and 16-nation declaration made clear conditions to be made by Commies for any resumption negotiations.

Eden then seemed to recover his footing and remarked from the Chair that conference has no procedure for voting and that it acts simply on common agreement. He pointed out that conference would not be able to reach agreement on any of the various texts as part of record of conference. If that were possible he stated he would add that further progress appeared impossible and hoped that day would come when task conference had set itself could be carried to successful conclusion.

Molotov spoke next saying conference had heard statement from Chair to effect all should take note of statement of Belgian delegate in support of PROC proposal inasmuch as Chou proposals reflected [Page 384] views of conference and that since another statement had been made US delegation conference could also take note of it.

Chou En-lai then said he was pleased to note spirit of conciliation shown by Spaak and noted chairman asked for consent of conference for proposal of PROC delegation. He then referred to immediate opposition US delegation had stipulated and asserted this showed how US delegation has been obstructing conference and preventing it from arriving at even minimum agreement. Asked that this statement be noted as part of record of conference. Pyun then made a vigorous impromptu remark referring to 16-nation declaration and stating that if Communists wish to make a similar statement or one with the same content they are free to do so but that a joint statement is “not right”. The Belgian delegation, he said, does not represent all of the 16 and specifically does not represent the ROK.

Eden from the Chair again remarked that the conference does not vote but that it was his understanding that the conference could take note of views expressed and in so doing does not implicate delegates any more than they want to be implicated.

Casey then spoke in helpful manner supporting statement of US delegate and of Chair. He reminded conference that 16 were not here in their individual capacities but as those who resisted aggression in Korea. He did not believe that second paragraph of Chou proposal could be accepted since it appeared to make 16 a “chance collection of countries”. Any revival of conference should be done in UN context.

Molotov then asked for floor and said conference had heard [proposal] to effect that it should take note of statements made today. Therefore, he concluded, it was necessary to take note that Belgian delegation joins with views of PROC delegation and that former believed those views expressed sentiment of conference. Spaak replied, attempting to extricate himself from deteriorating situation, that he understood Chou proposal to mean Chou hoped discussions on Korea were not ended. Spaak said he agreed with that but would add that any further discussions must be within framework of UN. Spaak said he meant he did not oppose future discussions, for to do so would be serious and unfortunate. Chou then asked if he could interpret what had been said to mean that PROC would be excluded from future discussions on settlement of Korea question. If this were so, he added, agreement on Korea question would seem impossible.

Eden from Chair concluded lengthy session by suggesting conference could not adopt any drafts as representing collective agreement but that such drafts and statements of delegates formed part of record of conference. This he thought was only thing conference could do since there was no procedure for voting. He asked if there were any objections [Page 385] and there were none. He then expressed the personal hope that the day would come when “our joint task” could be carried through to successful conclusion. Meeting adjourned at 2035.

  1. A set of minutes of this meeting (US Verb Min/15) is in Conference files, lot 60 D 627. The minutes indicate that the meeting convened at 3:05 p.m. and adjourned at 8:35 p.m. Eden presided at the meeting. This message was transmitted in three sections.
  2. The text of Nam Il’s proposal as transmitted in telegram Secto 449, June 15, from Geneva, read:

    Nam Il Proposal. On the insurance of peaceful conditions in Korea. The States (which are) participants in the Geneva conference agree that they shall continue their efforts with a view to reaching agreement on the peaceful settlement of the Korean question on the basis of creating a united, independent, and democratic Korean state. In the interests of insuring peaceful conditions in Korea (it is agreed)

    • “1. To recommend to the governments of the appropriate states that measures should be taken to withdraw from the territory of Korea all foreign armed forces as soon as possible with the observation of the principle of proportionality. The time limit for the withdrawal of foreign troops from Korea is subject to an agreement by the participants in the Geneva conference.
    • “2. To reduce, within the period not exceeding one year, the strength of the troops of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the Republic of Korea, establishing the limit of troop strength for each of the states not exceeding 100,000 men.
    • “3. To form, from the representatives of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the Republic of Korea, a commission to consider the question of creating conditions for gradual liquidation of the state of war, of transition of the troops of both sides to a peacetime position, and to submit to the Government of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and to the Government of the Republic of Korea proposals for the conclusion of an appropriate agreement.
    • “4. To recognize as incompatible with the interests of the peaceful unification of Korea the existence of treaties between one or the other of the other part of Korea and other states insofar as such treaties involve military obligations.
    • “5. For the purpose of creating conditions for the rapprochement between North and South Korea to form an all-Korean committee to work out and to implement agreed measures for establishing and developing economic and cultural relations between the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the Republic of Korea, trade, settlement of accounts, transport, frontier relations, freedom of movement of the population, and freedom of correspondence, cultural and scientific relations, etc.
    • “6. To recognize the necessity to insure by the states participants in the Geneva conference the peaceful development of Korea, and to create thereby the conditions facilitating the speediest solution of the task of the peaceful unification of Korea in a united, independent, and democratic state.” (396.1 GE/6–1554)

  3. For the text of Molotov’s statement, see The Korean Problem at the Geneva Conference, pp. 176–182.
  4. The text of Molotov’s proposed draft declaration, as sent to the Department of State in telegram Secto 449, read:

    “The States participating in the Geneva conference have agreed that, pending the final settlement of the Korean problem on the basis of the establishment of a united, independent and democratic state, no action shall be taken which might constitute a threat to the maintenance of peace in Korea.

    “The participants in the conference express their confidence that both the People’s Democratic Republic of Korea and the Republic of Korea shall act in accordance with the present declaration in the interests of peace.”

  5. The plenary session recessed from 4:40 p.m. until 5:30 p.m. During the recess, the heads of the 16 Allied Delegations held their 11th meeting from 4:50 to 5:15 p.m. The minutes are in FE files, lot 60 D 330, box 14824 (AD Verb Min/11). The summary of the meeting in telegram Secto 447, June 15, from Geneva, read:

    “At meeting of 16 during intermission between halves of Korean plenary, Smith suggested that in view of statements made today it might be best to revert to original suggestion and have declaration read at session rather than issued after close of conference. Spaak agreed and also suggested that it would be very difficult to vote against Molotov resolution (Secto 449) and wondered whether it could not be accepted. Smith said Molotov resolution unnecessary and some parts of it undesirable but he would be willing to state that matter of continuing effective armistice taken care of by armistice itself referring to paragraph 62.

    “It was agreed that following Smith statement, Casey would give arguments against Nam Il resolution (Secto 449) then Garcia and Spaak would speak and Prince Wan would read declaration.” (396.1 GE/6–1554)

  6. Telegram Secto 450, June 15, from Geneva not printed. The text of Smith’s statement is in The Korean Problem at the Geneva Conference, p. 182.
  7. For the text, see ibid., pp. 183–184.
  8. For the text, see ibid., pp. 185–186.
  9. For the text of Spaak’s statement, see The Korean Problem at the Geneva Conference, pp. 187–190.
  10. June 11.
  11. For the text of the Declaration by the Sixteen, see infra .
  12. For the text of Smith’s statement, see The Korean Problem at the Geneva Conference, pp. 190–191.