208. Memorandum of a Conversation Between the Counselor of the British Embassy (de la Mare) and the Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs (Sebald), Department of State, Washington, March 29, 19571

SUBJECT

  • United Kingdom forces in Korea
[Page 414]

Mr. de la Mare came to the Department to deliver a diplomatic note informing the United States Government of the decision by the United Kingdom to withdraw its forces from the United Nations Command in Korea, except for a small liaison group, by October 1957. A copy of this note is attached.2 Mr. de la Mare pointed out that the Foreign Office had asked the Embassy to call particular attention to the fact that this decision was taken purely for economic reasons and is to be interpreted in no way as a diminution of United Kingdom support for the Republic of Korea or the objectives of the United Nations in working for a united, independent and democratic Korea.

Mr. de la Mare added that Canada, Australia and New Zealand had been informed of the decision. He did not know whether these three countries would follow the lead of the United Kingdom and remove their forces. He pointed out, however, that the forces of the three countries are so intimately tied in with the United Kingdom forces, it is doubtful that they can remain without the United Kingdom forces.3

Mr. Sebald stated that what disturbs the United States with respect to this decision is that it could have a chain reaction and have repercussions on the entire United Nations operation in Korea. We are indeed sorry to see the United Kingdom unit pull out.

Mr. de la Mare alluded to the fact that the United Kingdom is reviewing its operations and its military strength for the entire area. In connection with this review, it had been pointed out that the troops which they have maintained in Korea are the most expensive, on a per capita basis, which the United Kingdom has in any part of the world.

Mr. de la Mare concluded the conversation by referring to the fact that the Republic of Korea has been urging the United Kingdom for some time to raise its Legation in Seoul to the status of an Embassy. The decision has now been made by the United Kingdom to exchange ambassadors with the Republic of Korea, if that is still the wish of the Koreans. Mr. de la Mare explained that the Korean Government will be informed of this decision at the same time the United Kingdom Chargé in Seoul passes on the information about the withdrawal of forces. It is the hope of the United Kingdom that [Page 415]this action will decrease the possible dissatisfaction by the Republic of Korea with the decision to reduce their forces.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 795.00/3–2957. Secret. Drafted by Parsons.
  2. Not printed.
  3. Similar indications of intent to withdraw all, or virtually all, of their remaining military units from Korea were conveyed to the Department by the New Zealand Embassy on April 3, by the Australian Embassy on April 5, and by the Canadian Embassy on April 26. An April 3 memorandum by Parsons regarding the New Zealand decision is in Department of State, Central Files, 795.5/4–357. Memoranda by Nes, dated April 5 and April 26, regarding the Australian and Canadian decisions respectively, are ibid., 795.00.