362. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Korea1

1080. On instruction from Seoul, Ambassador Kim told Barnett President Park determined to reach Korea-Japan settlement as soon as possible and, if Japanese have “sincere desire”, agreements can be signed before May 15. Kim added that in May 2 telephone conversation he urged President Park to effect signature Korea-Japan agreement package before U.S. State Visit. President Park told Kim he would do his best to achieve signature before arrival here.

Kim expressed personal doubt, however, it possible sign agreements before Park visit in view detailed negotiations necessary to prepare drafts and his suspicion of Japanese Foreign Office “stalling”.2 (He mentioned Ushiroku.) However, he stated emphatically agreements would be signed, at very latest, within week after President Park’s return to Seoul from U.S. Possibly FonMin Lee, if his health permits, might stop off Tokyo to sign agreements on return from U.S. State Visit.

In event impossible achieve signature before State Visit, Kim asked our view usefulness letter from Park to President assuring him of Park’s intention to secure early Korea-Japan settlement. In that context Kim expressed view that President Park should return to Seoul with “maximum results” from Washington meetings, particularly long term commitment.

Barnett told Kim that we do not doubt in least President Park’s determination obtain signature and early ratification Korea-Japan agreements. Very important when Basic Relations Treaty and outlines other agreements were initialed, and we are now confident both Korean and Japanese Governments wish normalize relations as soon as possible. Barnett expressed the view Japanese shared sense urgency, and now we could only hope negotiators both sides would exert great efforts in striving for earliest signature.

Because U.S. intention make commitment to support Korea’s security and economic requirements over period of years rather unusual, Bundy had told Ambassador Kim we would like very much to be [Page 792] in situation where Korea-Japan agreements had been signed. With signature it would be easier to do all that we wish to make visit greatest possible success. In view high degree confidence expressed by Korean and Japanese governments as well as by Ambassador Brown that agreement will soon be reached, Barnett said he did not think presidential letter as described by Ambassador Kim would be necessary.

Re substantive aspect visit Barnett said Park need not fear that Washington visit would be disappointing. Pointed out that there many aspects U.S.-Korea relationships unrelated to Korea-Japan settlement on which we will be focusing, such as our common interest and purposes in the Vietnamese situation, continuing success of Korean stabilization program, common hopes for economic growth in Korea, and expansion of Korea’s international economic role. With a Korea-Japan settlement in sight, the visit is of course appropriate occasion for mutual pledges of continued cooperation in these and other areas.

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL JAPAN–KOR S. Confidential. Drafted by O’Donohue, cleared by Bennett, and approved by Barnett. Repeated to Tokyo and CINCPAC for POLAD.
  2. The Koreans were also concerned about their ability to negotiate a fishing agreement, since both Japanese Agriculture Minister Akagi and fisheries specialist Wada were in Moscow. The Koreans were puzzled by their absence, and some saw their departure as a deliberate act to delay signing an agreement, a view the Embassy sought to allay. (Telegram 1119 from Seoul, May 4; ibid.)