66. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Dr. Kissinger
  • Congressman Cornelius Gallagher2
  • Lindsey Grant, NSC Staff


  • Korean Troop Reduction Plans

Congressman Gallagher said that he will leave for Korea on Sunday, and plans to stay there for four or five days. He may stop in Japan on the way home, to see Expo 70. Dr. Kissinger asked whether State had alerted our Embassies; Mr. Gallagher did not think that it had, and Dr. Kissinger asked Mr. Grant that this be done (Note: State has been advised). Congressman Gallagher mentioned that he expects to be Chairman of the Far East Subcommittee of the House Foreign Affairs Committee next year unless Zablocki wants the position again, which he doubts.

On Korea, Mr. Gallagher said that he had reliable information that the Koreans were concerned that the Communists will act in concert against South Korea within the next few years, because they fear that by 1975 the Japanese will be rearmed and will make any such action too dangerous. The ROK Government is very worried that the United States is giving the impression of a withdrawal. It would like the U.S. Seventh Division to stay in Korea, if only in cadre status, along with the Second Division. The Koreans understand that this might leave only 42,000 American servicemen in Korea, but they could put up with that if the two division organizations remained. Mr. Gallagher understands that the Koreans would be willing to contribute perhaps another 25,000 troops to Vietnam if the U.S. would agree to keep the two divisions in Korea. Mr. Gallagher thought that President Park is certain to raise this proposal with him next week.

Dr. Kissinger said that we have a paper before us right now as to what troops should be taken out. He had heard through another channel of the proposal related by Mr. Gallagher. It is an interesting one. It shows that the ROKs are displaying a positive attitude. The decision [Page 169] is a technical one, and we are looking into it; we may be able to accommodate their wishes. If we do, the issue of additional ROK forces to South Vietnam would not arise.

Mr. Gallagher thought the ROKs might still make the offer. Dr. Kissinger said that at this stage we do not believe that we need new foreign troops in Vietnam. Secretary Rogers has brought back an interesting report of the increased confidence in Vietnam. The best threat we can make to persuade Hanoi to negotiate may be that the GVN may be unbeatable alone. A year and a half ago, this idea would have been inconceivable.

Dr. Kissinger said that it was good to know of the approach to Mr. Gallagher, but he did not believe that it would be useful for Mr. Gallagher to explore this exchange proposal in Korea. He would, however, like Mr. Gallagher’s impressions on his return. He suggested that Mr. Gallagher, while in Korea, make clear that 42,000 is “still a big slice.” It is as good as 60,000 in terms of guaranteeing the U.S. reaction if the Communists attack.

Mr. Gallagher said that they didn’t seem worried about the numbers; they were hung up on the question of the divisions. Dr. Kissinger saw no objection in principle to keeping the two divisions, but thought we might substitute Korean troops to fill out the cadre division. This would of course raise problems as to how to control their initiatives. Mr. Gallagher thought that the Koreans want the cadre division but are not particularly interested in fleshing it out with Korean troops.

Dr. Kissinger said that we want to be helpful. The Koreans are good allies; the President had a good meeting last August with President Park. The shock of the proposed reduction is its symbolism, but we will do the best we can.

Dr. Kissinger reiterated that we share interests in common with the ROK. We are not trying to get out. The proposed reduction allows us to stay longer by reducing U.S. domestic pressures against a major continued U.S. presence. He hoped that Mr. Gallagher would relay this idea to the Koreans. Mr. Gallagher said that this was precisely what he wanted to get across to them and he wondered if Dr. Kissinger could provide him with that language in writing. Dr. Kissinger agreed to do so, and asked Mr. Grant to draw up appropriate language (Note: separately transmitted).3

[Page 170]

In a digression during the discussion of Korea, Congressman Gallagher mentioned that he was a close friend of President Balaguer of the Dominican Republic. He had helped to assure that Balaguer could remain in the U.S., and had even found some funds to help support him, during a time when President Bosch was putting pressure on us to have Balaguer deported. Mr. Gallagher said that he has helped Balaguer’s government and can perhaps be of help to us if something is needed from Balaguer or if we need an intermediary with personal credit with him.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 542, Country Files, Far East, Korea, Vol. III, 6/70–Dec 70. Confidential. The meeting was held in Kissinger’s office. This memorandum is attached to a July 15 memorandum from Holdridge to Kissinger, upon which the latter initialed his approval of the memorandum of conversation on August 13.
  2. Gallagher (D-New Jersey) was Chairman of the Subcommittee on International Organizations and Movements of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.
  3. On July 13, in a memorandum to Kissinger, Holdridge forwarded a brief statement that Kissinger subsequently approved and sent to Gallagher’s office on July 17. The statement reads: “The US Government regards the proposed reduction in its forces in Korea as a means of assuring that it can continue to cooperate over the long term in assuring Korean security, not as a means of withdrawing from its obligations. The indefinite retention in Korea of some 62,000 troops could be regarded as excessive, particularly in view of the absence of active hostilities for over fifteen years. This could in turn lead to domestic criticism of the continuing large-scale American presence.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 542, Country Files, Far East, Korea, Vol. III, 6/70–Dec 70)