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

176021. For the Ambassador from Alexis Johnson. Ref: Seoul 5608.2

I saw Ambassador Kim alone this morning and, as indicated in Reftel and he had indicated to me yesterday, he left with me a piece of paper entitled “agreed minutes,”3 containing eight points, to be signed on behalf of both governments. He said that he was giving me this paper for my “reference only”, as it was understood all negotiations on this subject were centered with you and Seoul.
In response to my questions, he said that it was envisaged that the “agreed minutes” would remain a confidential document between the two governments and that there would be a separate public statement. He said that he did not feel that the first five points should give much difficulty, as they primarily repeated what had been said on various occasions in the past; but he recognized that para six, which stated that the U.S. “has no intention of acting in a manner contrary to the wishes of the Korean Government” with respect to consultations on [Page 186] future troop reductions, created problems, and that para seven, establishing annual meetings of U.S. and ROK Foreign and Defense Ministers on “implementation of the Mutual Defense Treaty”, as well as a standing “Korea-U.S. Security Consultative Committee” chaired by the Foreign Minister and including the MOD, with the Ambassador and CINCUNC on the U.S. side, was something new.
After glancing through the paper, I said that without going into details I could not accept the concept. I pointed out that vis-à-vis the Congress it would be entirely impossible for us to acknowledge (as we would have to do) that we had a “secret agreement” with ROKG and at the same time to allege that “it did not contain anything new” in the way of a U.S. commitment. With respect to para six, I said that he was correct; that it was entirely impossible for us to accept veto by the ROKG over the disposition of our forces. With respect to para 7, I said that I could not accept the idea of formalized annual meetings involving both the Secretary of State and Secretary of Defense, but I thought it would be possible to work out something a little more formalized with respect to participation of high-level State officials in the annual Defense Ministers’ meetings. With respect to the “Korea-U.S. Security Consultative Committee” in Seoul, I thought that this was substantially the way things now were working.
I said that, at the conclusion of the present phase of talks, I envisaged that only formal confidential exchange between the two governments would be a factual recording of the understandings that had been reached with respect to what we were going to seek in the way of modernization and changes in disposition of forces consequent to our reduction. In reply to Kim’s question, I said that I did not have any view on whether this should be an exchange between you and the Foreign Minister or between Michaelis and MOD, but it seemed to me the latter would be the normal and natural way of doing it. The only other thing that I envisaged was relatively brief agreed public statement to be issued by both governments. In response to Kim’s question I said that I did not envisage this as being a signed “agreement,” but rather an agreed public statement to be issued by you and the Foreign Minister in Seoul, with our making copies available here; but I did not reject the idea of a simultaneous Foreign Ministry and Department of State statement. I said that we had been discussing such a statement with you and I expected that you would shortly have the instructions to enable you to discuss a text with the ROKG.
Kim’s defense of their “agreed minutes” draft was not very spirited, and he obviously anticipated my reaction. I hope what I said to him will be helpful.
Text of “agreed minutes” being sent septel.
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 542, Country Files, Far East, Korea, Vol. III, 6/70–Dec 70. Secret; Exdis. Drafted by U. Alexis Johnson and approved by Ranard and Curran (S/S).
  2. Dated October 26; in it Porter indicated that Choi wanted to hand him a draft of programs for further discussion of troop reductions and military modernization. (Ibid.)
  3. See Document 74.