The Ambassador in Korea (Briggs) to the Department of State
814. Repeated information Tokyo 497, London, Paris unnumbered. Tokyo pass CINCUNC and CAG. It is readily apparent from ROK Government emanations (Embtel 809 OPI statement February 19 and Korean Republic editorial February 20 transmitted by TWX, and Foreign Minister Pyun’s statement quoted Embtel 812)1 that their immediate reaction to Berlin agreement is one of disappointment, disgruntlement and anger. Korean Republic editorial this morning which accuses big three of (1) acting in secret without consultation with ROK, (2) repudiating armistice agreement providing for conference between belligerents, (3) accepting Russia in nonbelligerent status despite US assurances to contrary and (4) agreeing to bring Red China to conference as sponsoring power, (sic) with ROK invited as afterthought is one of bitterest statements Embassy has seen printed in this government paper. One of principal criticisms by ROK is round-table nature of conference which they allege will permit majority decisions and exclude veto by one of participating sides.
At press conference this morning Foreign Minister elaborated these main points of objection and stated ROK Government will have to study situation and has not yet decided whether to attend. Embassy has been unable to find any evidence to support INS story filed February 19 quoting Foreign Ministry spokesman as stating ROK Government has decided boycott conference.
While Berlin agreement is obviously disappointment and source of resentment to ROK Government one cannot entirely escape conclusion response at least partly motivated by exasperation that conference in fact going to be held. ROK had apparently concluded political conference unlikely and was planning its policy accordingly. On balance Embassy inclined believe they will not boycott conference but possibility some such thoughtless action should not be entirely discounted.
- Neither telegram 809 nor 812 is printed.↩