101. Letter From the Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs (Robertson) to the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs (Gray)1

Dear Gordon: I refer to your letter of November 5, 19552 with reference to moving the Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission teams in South Korea to the Demilitarized Zone on November 21, 1955 unless this had been accomplished by other means and to our telephone conversation yesterday afternoon on this exceedingly difficult question. We greatly appreciate your patience and your cooperation.

The only justification for a postponement of the action you recommend is our earnest belief that we should avoid the appearance of acting unilaterally if it is at all possible to achieve our objective in some other way. As you know, the Czechs and Poles have rejected the Swiss and Swedish proposal to move their teams to the Demilitarized Zone, but Ambassador Boheman of Sweden came to see me a few days ago3 and told me very confidentially that Sweden had indicated [Page 188] to the Chinese Communists in Peiping that it did not see how it could otherwise continue its membership on the Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission. He said that his Government was endeavoring to persuade the Swiss to adopt the same position. There is at this time, therefore, a possibility that our purpose can be accomplished through negotiation and the Department of State believes that the Swiss and Swedes should be given the opportunity to complete their negotiations. While it has been two months since we agreed to a reduction in the teams, we delayed four months in giving our approval. I am convinced that both the Swedes and Swiss are actively endeavoring to use all of the bargaining leverage that they have in trying to persuade the Czechs and Poles to agree to eliminate the stationary teams.

The Department of State also believes it would be highly undesirable for the United States to take unilateral action on the Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission issue while the United Nations General Assembly is still in session. Such timing would provoke general debate in which a great many nations, other than the Communist nations, would in all probability severely criticize the United States action and would damage the general conduct of United States efforts in the General Assembly. On the other hand, we have used the opportunity afforded by a speech by the Polish representative which had numerous misrepresentations about the Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission, and have replied at some length, setting the record straight.4 We hope that our representative’s speech will help to lay the groundwork for whatever action it becomes necessary to take.

The General Assembly is expected to close about December 15. I recommend, therefore, that we agree to set January 1, 1956 as a deadline for action by CINCUNC, unless the Swiss and Swedes have made definite arrangements by that time which will accomplish the same objective.5 The Department of State considers that we must inform our fifteen allies beforehand and proposes that this be done about the middle of December. We are prepared to work with the Department of Defense in drafting a notification and explanation to be given the United Nations when the action is taken.

Sincerely yours,

Walter S. Robertson6
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 795.00/11–555. Secret. Drafted by Norred and Robertson and cleared with EUR, IO, and L/UNA.
  2. Document 97.
  3. A memorandum by McClurkin of Boheman’s conversation with Robertson on November 16 is in Department of State, Central Files, 795.00/11–1655.
  4. See the editorial note, Supra.
  5. In a November 30 letter to Robertson, Gray accepted January 1, 1956, as the date by which the NNSC would have to take action to withdraw the NNITs to the demilitarized zone or CINCUNC would be authorized to remove them. (Department of State, Central Files, 795.00/1–3055)
  6. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.