112. 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: On January 25 I asked the Swedish Ambassador and the Swiss Minister to come to see me hoping to be brought up to [Page 208] date on the progress of their negotiations with the Communists with respect to the removal of the inspection teams to the Demilitarized Zone. The Swiss Minister had not been informed by his Government of recent developments, but the Swedish Ambassador had a good deal to say which on the whole was most encouraging.

The Swedes have taken the lead in the negotiations with the Communists, and in my judgment have made very substantial progress. The Chinese Communists and the Poles have replied to the Swedish proposal that all inspection teams be withdrawn to the Demilitarized Zone with a counter-proposal that all but one team in the north and one in the south be withdrawn and that the mobile teams and other Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission personnel in the Demilitarized Zone be substantially reduced. The Poles emphasized their desire to continue negotiations if the Swedes found the counter-proposal unsatisfactory. The Swedes are replying that they can accept the Communist proposal provided that all inspection teams are withdrawn to the Demilitarized Zone.

The Swedish Government believes that the manner in which the Communists replied to the Swedish proposal indicates that there is a good possibility they will accept the removal of all inspection teams to the Demilitarized Zone. I asked the Swedish Ambassador whether the Swedish position—including the Swedish threat to withdraw from the Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission entirely if the Communists did not agree to elimination of the inspection teams— was subject to negotiation. He replied that everything he knew indicated the position was not negotiable and it was the Swedish belief that the Czechs and Poles were clearly under this impression.

In response to my concern over the delays in these negotiations, the Swedish Ambassador said he would suggest that his Government make clear to the Communists the urgency with which the Swedes regarded the matter. The Swedes may have a reply to this reaffirmation of their position by the end of this month, but it seems to me to be unlikely. In view of the exchange between President Rhee and Congressman Zablocki’s group early in December, however, I feel quite confident there is no serious danger of a renewal of the anti-Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission demonstrations in Korea before the first week in March. Taking account of the political and legal difficulties involved in action by the United Nations Command to remove the inspection teams, the success of the Swedish efforts thus far and their determination to accomplish withdrawal of the teams or to withdraw themselves from the Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission, I believe we should allow the Swedes a little more time before we instruct the United Nations Command to take action.

I understand, of course, how strongly Defense and CINCUNC feel about the removal of the inspection teams to the Demilitarized [Page 209] Zone. I and most of my colleagues in the Department of State share this view. It seems to me, however, that the Swedes are on the brink of success in persuading the Communists to agree to withdrawal of the inspection teams. This is particularly true since the Communists are faced with a much less desirable alternative from their point of view, namely, elimination of the Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission entirely. I am hopeful, therefore, that you will agree that we should allow the Swedes a little more time to accomplish their objective.

A copy of the memorandum of my conversation with the Swedish Ambassador is enclosed for your information.2

Sincerely yours,

Walter S. Robertson3
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 795.00/1–3056. Secret. Drafted by Jones.
  2. Not found attached. The memorandum is printed Supra.
  3. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.