109. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Korea 1

174893. Subject: Kim Yong-sik in Washington.

In almost hour long meeting with Secretary, attended also by Asst Sec Green and Korean Ambassador Kim Dong Jo, FonMin Kim Yong-sik concentrated on President’s trip to China. FonMin’s representations followed closely script of Park Chung Hee letter2 he carried, and touched base with its essential arguments in almost exact order: ROKG welcomed President’s visit to China and hopes it will ease tensions; pleased that trip will not be at expense of old friends; ROK concerned, however, about speculations that Chou En-lai will raise question of Korea; and ROKG request that there be no discussions nor decisions taken concerning Korea without consultation with ROK. As in letter, Kim [Page 280]claimed that China is encouraging North Korea; instead China should convince North Korea not to take a belligerent attitude toward the ROK. As arguments that North Korea and China as well have not changed their attitudes towards ROK, Kim pointed to stepped up infiltration since beginning of NK/ROK talks, including in particular incident of last weekend, as well as September 6 Chicom/NK agreement on military assistance. Kim wound up representation with plea that U.S. presence in Korea is a strong deterrent against war and must be maintained.
In response, Secretary thanked FonMin for ROK statesmanlike reactions to forthcoming China visit, which most helpful. Confirming that President’s trip will not be at expense of friends, Secretary went on to explain genesis of visit as attempt to improve relations with PRC through face-to-face talks. No agreements have been reached, nor were there any preconditions. Secretary said we would not make any decisions on Korea without consultation with the ROK; moreover, if there is to be any change in our policy toward Korea we will discuss first with ROK. We are hopeful, however, visit will help in reducing tensions which in turn will benefit our friends as well. We are not euphoric, said Secretary, and realize there remain many problems; nevertheless, we believe some progress being made. We expect our friends to understand the rationale for this visit and to trust our judgment. Specifically, so far as ROK concerned, our alliance will continue. We are not thinking of any further reduction of troops in FY 72.
Other topics touched on by FonMin included Korean question in UN, North/South talks, and ROK force levels and plans for Viet-Nam. During brief exchange of views on Korean question in UN, Secretary assured Kim we doing all possible to achieve postponement. In discussion of North/South talks, Kim provided no new insights. Secretary, however, found opportunity to encourage continuation of talks as step in direction of easing tension and benefiting ROK image. Concerning ROK troop levels in Viet-Nam, Kim reiterated ROK decision to remove 10,000 between December and mid-1972. Beyond this, he said, ROK has not made any further decisions, although thinking of taking out remainder of troops by end of 1972. Koreans do not wish to be last foreign troops remaining in Viet-Nam and Kim asked that ROKG be kept advised concerning future U.S. force levels. Secretary indicated there no plans for precipitous troop disengagement from Viet-Nam, that further withdrawals will be consistent with those previously arranged, and that we will consult with ROKG regarding future plans.
After luncheon on eighth floor in his honor, Kim returned for follow-up discussion with Green, which reported separately by memcon.3
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 7 KOR S. Secret; Priority; Exdis. Drafted by Ranard on September 21, cleared by Green and Johnson (S/S), and approved by Eliot.
  2. On September 21, Eliot forwarded President Park’s September 16 letter to Kissinger. (Ibid.)
  3. Not found.