71. Backchannel Telegram From the Ambassador to Korea (Porter) to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1
692. Following message also sent to President from Vice President2 via State channels. Please forward if necessary.
After six-hour meeting with Park today we came up with following two texts which I agreed to submit for your consideration. First text is my proposal to Koreans for public statement to Park which we would make to help him in dealing with public suspicion about possible further troop withdrawals. Latter proved to be much more abrasive issue than that of joint military planning for our force reduction. I believe he would accept this text if you feel agreeable to approving it:
Begin text: “The U.S. Government, through a long-range program of military and economic aid, will assist the Government of the ROK in its commendable effort to modernize and strengthen its defense forces.
“Until the modernization process is completed, the presence of U.S. troops in the ROK will be required. U.S. forces will be withdrawn only as ROK defensive capabilities improve.
“Evaluation of ROK defense capabilities shall be made from time to time by representatives of the United States and the ROK after full consultation. It is understood, however, that in the event those representatives cannot agree, U.S. reserves final control of its armed forces.” End text first statement.
ROKs may desire that final sentence not be published, in which case I recommend we try to accommodate them by confirming text of agreement, including that final sentence, by letter.
Following is text of proposal made by President Park which I said I would submit to you for consideration with the foregoing but which I could not in good conscience recommend to you:[Page 184]
Begin text: “President Park has no objection to U.S. force reduction of 20,000, provided ROK forces equipment is modernized, and national defense capability is increased, and provided there will be no further reduction of the level of remaining U.S. forces until such time as modernization program has been implemented and ROK force strength increased.” End second text.
- Second text indicates Park’s determination to tie remaining U.S. forces to undetermined level of modernization program which I felt I could not agree to. Am hoping you can give these matters early attention to enable us if possible to reach conclusion before my departure tomorrow at 1300 hours Seoul time.3
- Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 542, Country Files, Far East, Korea, Vol. III, 6/70–Dec 70. Top Secret; Eyes Only. Sent to Lord for Kissinger in San Clemente where it was received at 4:55 a.m. on August 25.↩
- Nixon dispatched Agnew to Korea during the last week of August. Kissinger described Agnew’s mission in an August 22 memorandum to him: “Your presence will be a great asset in helping President Park, as well as the Korean people, appreciate the depth of our continued friendship and backing under the Nixon Doctrine. The ‘face’ Park will gain from your visit will make it easier for him to go along with our reductions and support them publicly, which we want him to do.” (Ibid., Box 406, Subject Files, Vice President’s Briefing Book, Republic of Korea, August 1970)↩
- In telegram 138266 to San Clemente, August 25, U. Alexis Johnson sent a draft reply for Agnew to Rogers and Kissinger which warned that the Koreans could take the view that modernization is a “never-ending process,” and reiterated that the reduction of 20,000 troops was not dependent upon completion of deliveries under the modernization program. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 542, Country Files, Far East, Korea, Vol. III, 6/70–Dec 70)↩