3. Airgram From the Embassy in Korea to the Department of State 1
Seoul, February 5, 1964.
A–553. Subject: Aide-Mémoire from ROKG in Connection with Secretary of State’s Visit. Ref: Seoul’s A–540, January 31, 1964.2[Page 5]
- Submitted as an enclosure to this airgram is the text of an Aide-Mémoire handed by the Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs to the Counselor for Political Affairs on January 30, the day following the visit to Seoul for the Secretary of State. Prior to the Secretary’s arrival, there had been frequent mention in the press of a memorandum, setting forth the ROK Government’s position on problems of mutual US–ROK interest, which was to be presented to the Secretary during his visit. No such presentation took place and it is presumed that the Aide-Mémoire is the document in question. Why the Korean officials did not go through with their original plan to present the paper while the Secretary was in Seoul is not known at this time.
- The Aide-Mémoire covers four main subjects: (a) The Level of Military Forces; (b) ROK-Japan Talks for the Normalization of Diplomatic Relations; (c) Economic Stabilization and Development Plan; and (d) Status of Forces Agreement, these being at the present time the four principal areas of concern of the ROK Government in its relations with the United States. All except the fourth were raised with the Secretary by President Pak Chong-hui.3 Although not discussed, the Status of Forces Agreement negotiations were recognized by the President and the Secretary to be a subject of major interest and, accordingly, were mentioned prominently in the Joint Communiqué issued following their conversation.4
- It should be noted that while, with one exception noted below, all of the points made by the President in his discussion with the Secretary are contained in the Aide-Mémoire, there are a number of items in the Aide-Mémoire which the President did not take up with the Secretary. It is not known whether the omissions, listed below, were the result of a conscious decision by Pak to concentrate only on the points which he did mention, either for emphasis or because of the shortness of time available, or whether they were inadvertent.
- On the subject of military force levels, Pak spoke exclusively about the necessity for retaining present levels. He did not refer to the questions of improvement of the equipment of the ROK armed forces, maintenance of local procurement by the U.S. armed forces at last year’s level, or the supply of P.L. 480 products to the ROK armed forces, which are discussed in subparagraphs (b), (c), and (d), respectively of paragraph 5, Section I of the Aide-Mémoire.
- With regard to the ROK-Japan normalization issue, Pak did not mention to the Secretary the proposal to speed up the payment of the [Page 6]property claims settlement, the question of the legal status of ROK residents of Japan, or the dispute over Tok-to (Takeshima Island), discussed in subparagraphs (b), (e), and (f), respectively of paragraph 3, Section II. While omission of the latter two subjects appears appropriate in view of the limited time available for the conversation, it is surprising that the President did not refer to his Government’s desire for U.S. intervention with the Japanese to obtain speedier payment of the property claims settlement, particularly since the Minister of Foreign Affairs had specifically told the Ambassador a few days prior to the visit that this would be one of the requests which Pak would make to the Secretary.
- In discussing the general topic of economic stabilization and U.S. aid, Pak did not make the references to the ROK Five Year Plans contained in the Aide-Mémoire, nor did he cover the points concerning fertilizer imports [Section III, para. 3(b)],5 maintenance of the present exchange rate [3(c)], and offshore procurement [3(d)]. In discussing the MAP transfer program, Pak suggested suspension for two or three years instead of the 5 years recommended in the Aide-Mémoire [3(e)]. He did ask for the creation by the U.S. Government of favorable conditions for Korean imports but did not refer specifically to the problem of textile quotas [3(f)].
- It was during his discussion of this general topic that Pak deviated from the subjects covered in the Aide-Mémoire by asking for an additional 20 million to 30 million dollars of aid in order to check the price spiral (para 28, refair).6 The degree of seriousness with which the ROKG regards this request is as yet undetermined, but it can be presumed that we will be faced with further references to the need for additional economic assistance including supporting assistance throughout the year.
- Some of the topics included in the Aide-Mémoire were also discussed at the separate conferences attended by Secretary of Commerce Hodges, Secretary of Labor Wirtz and other members of the party. The substance of these conferences is being reported separately.7 A study of the gist of these conferences, Pak’s conversation with the Secretary, and the Aide-Mémoire should afford a comprehensive view [Page 7]of the stance currently being taken by the ROKG with regard to its relations with the United States Government.
For the Ambassador: Philip C. Habib
Counselor of Embassy for
Counselor of Embassy for
- Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 1 KOREA S-US. Secret. Drafted by Fleck; cleared by Doherty and Rosa; and approved by Habib. Repeated to Tokyo and CINCPAC for POLAD.↩
- Airgram A–540 from Seoul, January 31, transmitted the memorandum of the 3-hour conversation between Rusk and Pak on January 29 in Seoul. Documentation on Rusk’s visit to Seoul is ibid., Conference Files: Lot 66 D 110, Chronology of International Conferences Abroad, 1961–1964.↩
- Rusk and Pak also discussed the implications of France’s recognition of Communist China as well as threats posed to the Far East by Communist China. (Ibid.)↩
- The joint communiqué is printed in American Foreign Policy: Current Documents, 1964, pp. 920–921.↩
- All brackets in the source text.↩
- Airgram A–540 makes no mention of Rusk’s response to Pak’s request, except to note that Rusk complimented Pak on his “courage to bite the bullet and take steps needed to get the Korean economy moving “ and mentioned several alternative methods available to promote economic development in Korea.↩
- Memoranda of those conversations are in the National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Conference Files: Lot 66 D 110, Chronology of International Conferences Abroad, 1961–1964.↩
- be made over a period of 10 years. [Footnote in the source text.]↩
- Rusk told the Korean Ambassador in Washington in late February that although “aid could not of course be permanent feature of US–ROK relations, its level for ROK will be determined by actual needs of situation; neither ROK nor US would wish permanent aid relationship. Nor do we have in mind a shift of aid burden to Japan, which ROK would not desire and Japan would not desire or accept. “ (Telegram 758 to Seoul, February 28; National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL JAPAN–KOR S)↩
- In 1964 approximately 600,000 Koreans, brought to Japan as laborers during World War II, resided in Japan. Defense intelligence analysts represented that both countries competed for control and influence over that population, which lived in “depressed circumstances “ and depended on relief from the Japanese Government. (DIA Intelligence Summary, March 25; Johnson Library, National Security File, Files of Robert W. Komer, Japan-Korea, December 1963–March 1966)↩
- Referred to as Takeshima by the Japanese, Dok-To (or Tokto), a barren island in the Sea of Japan, had long been a point of contention between Korea and Japan.↩