396.1—GE/3–2354: Telegram

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


930. Repeated information Tokyo 570. Tokyo for CINCUNC. Verbatim text. Reference: Embtel 928,1 Deptel 739.2 Foreign Minister Pyun has requested Embassy telegram text following letter which he [Page 50]has today addressed to Secretary Dulles, signed original of which being transmitted through Ambassador Yang:

Begin Text

My Dear Mr. Secretary: I have studied your letter of March 17, 1954 with utmost interest and attention it fully deserves. In connection, however, with answers you gave me orally through Ambassador Briggs to my earlier questions publicly raised and answers you so kindly set forth in your letter in response to batch of fresh questions couched in my letter to you dated March 3, 1954,3 I should like to say that I would doubt my own loyalty owed to my own nation and to its great and beneficent ally, US, if I were to refrain from frankly reiterating views still persisting unchanged and doubts still remaining unresolved by your kindly and elaborate answers and so warning, at least, against dangers we would face unitedly, if this government should decide to participate in coming conference at Geneva, in which case, by way, I shall have pleasure of letting you know of it through your worthy and able representative Ambassador Briggs.

GA resolution sponsored by fifteen United Nations,4 seeking, I believe, to preclude certain dangers and pitfalls clearly envisaged and anticipated, insisted on having Soviet Union come in as belligerent, on having it as two-sided conference, not round-table one, on insuring each participant nation freedom not to be bound by any majority-supported resolution or decision, and above all, on confining conference to Korean question.

Now it seems, Mr. Secretary, that all obstacles Communists chose to see in these crucial propositions and fought with all their demoniacal energy and truculence, have been removed at one stroke by Berlin four foreign ministers conference proposing new conference at Geneva freed from all Communist-hated restrictions. In short, we can hardly, I must confess, bring ourselves to agree with you this is type of conference we sought after.

I do not share your view Soviet Union is not sponsoring nation so far as my country is concerned. If Soviet Union is sponsoring nation only in regard to invitation of Communist participants to coming Geneva conference, while US sponsors conference for free nations concerned only, then, where do England and France come in for sponsoring? We understand recent four foreign ministers conference as body sponsored proposed Geneva conference and, therefore, any of four nations represented in Berlin conference is sponsoring nation, [Page 51]absolutely and unconditionally, regardless of procedural matter of who issued an invitation to whom.

Your oral answer reaching me through Ambassador Briggs regarding nature of coming Geneva conference was, I remember, that technically it is not two-sided conference but it is as practical matter, for conferees will naturally be divided into Communists and non-Communist groups. This interpretation applies to UN itself, and, for that matter, to any conference or meeting where problem, when taken up, is almost invariably tending to divide members into supporters and opposers of certain proposal on it. I hope you will not be offended to be told we drew little assurance from answer you gave me.

You will agree, I believe, with me in view there is much difference between seeking not to be bound by majority decision with agreed consent of entire assembly making such decision and doing so by simple assertion of national sovereignty, which unfortunately grows odious or even offensive nowadays, so far [as] its possible effect on world opinion is concerned.

As regards proposed Geneva conference handling also Indochinese question, I should like to state unequivocally we do not mean, in slightest, “to exercise a veto power over the discussion of Communist aggression in Indochina, ” so long as it is carried on in perfectly independent manner, say, in separate manner, say in separate conference from that dealing with Korean problem. In my previous letter to you, I simply expressed my fear of certain dangers that might develop from same conference handling two different and, as you seem to say, disconnected problems. I need not tell you here these dangers are same dangers UN spokesmen for free cause clearly saw, though they did not all say so as clearly.

I whole-heartedly concur in your view “we should lose no time in consulting and fixing our common position”. I am sorry to say I am in no position give you perfectly satisfactory reply in this connection, since this government has yet to decide on participation in Geneva conference, to which it is invited. I should like to make, however, suggestion here which I hope you will find acceptable and which also happens to represent our best effort to comply with your request under circumstances. How would you consider idea of having pre-Geneva discussions in Seoul between your Embassy here and this government or, if you prefer, between latter and whomever you will designate for occasion? Considering fact we have not all facilities of communication you have, it may be fair arrangement, after all. As to propriety of such a procedure pending our decision on matter of participation, I feel we need not question it at all, for I see only its necessity and no possible harm coming from it. I earnestly hope you will find it workable at least.

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I must not pass this occasion, however, without recognizing with much satisfaction and appreciation your confirmed determination to carry out, in reference to Geneva conference, understanding of setting three-month time limit to political conference on Korea as declared in joint communiqué of August 8, 1953. I assure you in advance this heartening assurance from you, along with deep, implicit trust US Government and people have inspired in us that you will not see us betrayed in our fundamental and intrinsic interests, will yet help incline us to take favorable view of our participation in coming Geneva conference, in spite of all its forbidding aspects we seem to descry.

I beg to remain, my dear Mr. Secretary,

Yours sincerely, Y. T. Pyun.

End text.

  1. The Department of State file copy of this telegram is dated, apparently incorrectly, Mar. 24, 4 p.m. Presumably, telegram 928 was sent on Mar. 23 from Seoul and was received in Washington, because of the 14 hour time difference between the two capitals, at 1:08 p.m. on Mar. 23. The text read:

    “President Rhee informed New York Times correspondent this morning Republic of Korea has decided neither accept, nor reject invitation to Geneva Conference, pending receipt additional clarification which will shortly be sought by Foreign Minister Pyun in further letter to Secretary Dulles.

    “At his regular press conference today, Pyun informed press reply received from Washington to his letter regarding Geneva Conference. He stated assurance regarding 90-day time limit, after which US and Republic of Korea would jointly walk out and discuss other measures, was most satisfactory assurance given. He also specifically cited Secretary Dulles statement Republic of Korea a sovereign State cannot be bound by decision against her own interests. Pyun concluded by remarking other points not sufficiently clarified and no decision yet taken whether Republic of Korea will attend Conference.” (396.1–GE/3–2454)

  2. Dated Mar. 17, p. 39.
  3. Text in telegram 861, Mar. 6, from Seoul, p. 29.
  4. Reference is to U.N. General Assembly Resolution 711 (VII), adopted Aug. 28, 1953; text in American Foreign Policy, 1950–1955: Basic Documents, vol. ii, p. 2676.