39. Memorandum of a Conversation, Department of State, Washington, April 29, 19551


  • Reply to the Commonwealth Proposal for Further Reduction of Their Forces in Korea


  • Mr. M.G.L. Joy, First Secretary, British Embassy
  • Mr. R.H. Wade, First Secretary, New Zealand Embassy
  • Mr. J.J. McCardle, Second Secretary, Canadian Embassy
  • Mr. Noel Hemmendinger, Acting Director, Office of Northeast Asian Affairs
  • Mr. William G. Jones, Officer in Charge, Korean Affairs, NA

Mr. Hemmendinger stated he had asked the group to assemble at this late hour Friday afternoon in order to deliver as promptly as possible the reply of the United States Government to the proposal put forward by the Chiefs of Staff of the Commonwealth countries to the United States Joint Chiefs of Staff.2 Identical notes were then handed the group.3 As earlier requested by the Australians, their note was given to Mr. McCardle to deliver to them.

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In response to a question, Mr. Hemmendinger told the group that while the United States Joint Chiefs might also reply, their reply would be only a formality and would refer to the notes just handed out. Furthermore, it was pointed out that since the word “concur”, which appeared in the communication of the Chiefs of Staff of the Commonwealth countries, was regarded as unfortunate by some, the use of this word had been carefully avoided wherever possible throughout the note. Attention was then called to the fact that the word “concur” appeared only once—in the first paragraph—but that this was in describing the joint note from the Commonwealth Chiefs of Staff. Mr. McCardle, whose country had felt the note to be a derogation of its sovereignty, said he found no objection to the word “concur” as used in the United States note and thought it perfectly proper in this context. The other members of the group also agreed.

The group felt the note to be very clear and the only point which was elucidated for them was the difficult situation which would be created with respect to maintaining forces in Korea from other countries with less concern in the Far East, and with less capacity to support forces, if the Commonwealth countries were to reduce their forces further.

Mr. McCardle stated that the Foreign Minister planned to make a statement on May 2 in which—among other things—he would announce that in view of discussions looking forward to a further reduction of United Nations contingents in Korea the Canadian Government did not intend to replace its battalion in Korea but would retain there for the time being, a destroyer and an ambulance unit. He was not able to predict what effect the United States note might have on the planned statement.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 795B.5/4–2955. Secret. Drafted by Jones.
  2. See footnote 2, Document 31.
  3. A copy of the note sent to the Canadian Government is in Department of State, Central Files, 795B.5/4–2955. The note reads in part:

    “The proposal of the Commonwealth countries to reduce their forces in Korea at this time, and the probable effect such an action would have on the decision of other participating countries, is a matter of concern to the Government of the United States. In the face of the current tension in the Far East, this Government believes that further reductions in the size of the United Nations Command would have serious adverse impact militarily and politically on the interests of the Free World in Asia. If the Commonwealth forces are further reduced, less powerful and less concerned nations will find it difficult to continue their contributions. Should such reductions continue, the international composition of the United Nations Command would be jeopardized and a point would soon be reached at which the continued existence of the United Nations Command would be in question. It is the view of the Government of the United States that the continued existence of the United Nations Command is important to the maintenance of the Armistice and to stability in the area of Korea by reason of its deterrent effect upon the Communists and the assurance it affords of united policies on the part of the Free World nations toward the Korean problem.”

    The note concludes with an expression of hope “that the Commonwealth Governments will be disposed to reconsider their proposal and to defer additional withdrawals of their forces.”