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347. Action Memorandum From the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs (Brown) and the Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs (Leddy) to Secretary of State Rusk 1

SUBJECT

  • Recognition of Mongolian People's Republic

Discussion:

1.
In response to our query of May 7, Ambassador Thompson has expressed the opinion that there is now a better-than-even chance that a direct approach to the Mongols on the subject of establishing diplomatic relations would elicit a favorable response (Tab A).2 He continues to favor establishing relations with the MPR and does not believe the Soviets would oppose. Last August the Ambassador considered it inadvisable to approach the Mongolian Government on this issue because of indications that the Mongolian position on Vietnam ruled out ties with the United States at that time.3
2.
We continue to believe that it is in our national interest to establish a diplomatic presence in Mongolia as soon as possible. It would improve our intelligence collection capabilities in that area. It would demonstrate in a timely fashion that the United States is willing to have normal relations with an Asian Communist state which leaves its neighbors in peace. It would not at this time have a significant effect on the attitudes of the USSR or Communist China.
3.
In terms of timing, there are advantages in moving now while Vietnam negotiations are in an early stage. Progress towards peace talks has already served to ease existing political restraints, as demonstrated [Page 754]by Soviet ratification of the Consular Convention. In addition, the President and the White House staff have in recent weeks requested your suggestions on possible policy initiatives for the balance of the Administration. Recognition of Mongolia can usefully be considered in this context also.
4.
We cannot expect to secure GRC concurrence in this move, and Nationalist Chinese opposition will continue to be vigorous. In March 1967 Ambassador Goldberg mentioned directly to President Chiang the intelligence aspect of our interest in recognition, and Ambassador McConaughy subsequently discussed the potential intelligence benefits in greater detail with GRC Foreign Minister Wei and other GRC officials reiterated their Government's strong opposition to recognition of Mongolia by the US. Ambassador McConaughy this month has reassessed the GRC attitude (Taipei 3177 at Tab C).4 Although he recommends, from the standpoint of “best nourishment of our interests and relations" in Taiwan, that we postpone indefinitely any move toward recognition, he believes that GRC reaction now would be substantially that which he anticipated a year ago. We therefore conclude that recognition of Mongolia will create strains in our relations but that these strains will be largely temporary in nature and manageable in degree. Our actions over the past few years have probably conditioned Taipei to accept the inevitability of eventual US recognition of Mongolia, and the record shows we have given every consideration to GRC views. Moreover, unlike 1961, the GRC will not need to take any positive action suggesting acquiescence in our move.
5.
The Japanese Government has made clear on several occasions its hope that the US would keep the GOJ informed of any US decision to move toward recognition of Mongolia. Embassy Tokyo's assessment (Tab D)5 emphasizes that the GOJ would probably welcome such a move. We have indicated we would stay in close touch with the GOJ. The GOJ has informed the Mongolian Government of its willingness to enter diplomatic relations with Mongolia if the MPR would agree to waive the right to raise the question of war reparations, a condition the Mongols have thus far refused to meet. GRC opposition is also a factor in Tokyo's moves, as is the GOJ's desire to establish diplomatic relations with the MPR in advance of the US. In view of the sensitivity of the GRC and the GOJ on this issue, we intend to inform both governments in advance of any US decision to approach the Mongols on the question of recognition. Embassy Seoul (Tab E)6 favors recognition providing the timing does not come on the heels of some unsettling development.
6.
Congressional support for this initiative will be essential. Our first move would be to take renewed soundings with key and discreet Congressional leaders. We have noted that key members of Congress, including the Chairmen of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, have favored recognition of Mongolia.

Recommendations:

1.
That we in collaboration with H be authorized to sound out key Congressional opinion on recognizing Mongolia, drawing on information in Tab B.7
2.
That we then inform both the GRC and the GOJ that we intend to approach the Mongols to ascertain their position on exchanging diplomatic representation with the US.
3.
That we then sound out the Mongols in Moscow concerning their attitude toward establishing diplomatic relations with the US, and if their reaction is positive, that we then open formal discussions with the Mongols looking toward recognition and exchange of diplomatic representatives.8

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL MONG–US. Secret; Exdis. Sent through Under Secretary of State Katzenbach. Drafted by J. Stapleton Roy of the Office of Soviet Union Affairs, and Kreisberg on May 14; and cleared by Bohlen, Sisco, Assistant Secretary of State for Congressional Relations William B. Macomber, Jr., Jacobson, Shoesmith, Sneider, and Assistant Legal Adviser for East Asian and Pacific Affairs George H. Aldrich.
  2. Telegram 159927 to Moscow, May 7, and telegram 3782 from Moscow, May 8; neither printed.
  3. Telegram 264 from Moscow, July 20, 1967, reported that the Austrian Ambassador to the Soviet Union had told Thompson this. (Department of State, Central Files, POL 16 MONG) This is apparently the telegram referred to in a July 20 note from Rusk's Special Assistant Harry W. Shlaudeman to Bundy file with the memorandum from Bundy and Leddy to Rusk cited in footnote 5, Document 345. In the memorandum, Bundy and Leddy renewed their recommendation for recognition of Mongolia. Shlaudeman's note states that Rusk wanted the memorandum returned to Bundy with a cable “which apparently disposes of the problem.”
  4. Telegram 3177 from Taipei, May 22; not printed.
  5. Tab D, listed as telegram 8623 from Tokyo, is not attached to the source text. (Department of State, Central Files, POL 16 MONG)
  6. Tab E, listed as telegram 7443 from Seoul, is not attached to the source text. (Ibid.)
  7. Tab B, listed as talking points for use with members of Congress, is not attached to the source text.
  8. The source text bears no indication of Rusk's approval or disapproval. Another copy is filed with a copy of a memorandum from Meeker to Rusk, undated but with a drafting date of June 20, stating that Read had asked the Legal Adviser's Office to review the 1961 exchanges with the Republic of China on the question of recognition of Mongolia to ascertain the nature and duration of any U.S. commitments. Meeker's memorandum concluded that there was no commitment binding on the United States in 1968 to refrain from recognizing Mongolia. An attached handwritten note of July 29 by Meeker states that Rusk “saw this after his return from Honolulu. He has in mind to let the Japanese act first, and is doubtful of our moving very soon.” (Department of State, Central Files, POL 16 MONG)