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

5853. Dept pass interested addressees as appropriate. Subj: Interview with President Park Nov 6: Politico-Military Subjects. Ref A. State 181943,2 B. Seoul 5754.3

President received me Friday morning for conversation indicated reftels. This part of my presentation based on desire explain to him status of military talks as we see them at this point and ascertain whether we in agreement in that connection. With congressional consideration of modernization problem ahead, which would no doubt include inquiry into question of U.S. troop reduction, it essential ROK/U.S. appear well aligned in these matters, I said.
Speaking first about modernization equipment list, I said committee on that subject had achieved agreement about items to submit to higher authority for examination and approval. This process now under way, and list being examined in Washington. It possible there might be some changes to suggest to ROK for variety of reasons including lack of production, nonavailability of items, etc., but in effect we consider that with submission of list to Washington, work of Seoul Committee chaired by Generals Shim and Smith had been concluded. Park nodded agreement, did not comment.
As for arrangements arising from our plans for troop reductions, I understood his people well briefed on our intentions and schedule. One point remaining is U.S. reaction to ROK proposal for retention of I Corps. When Washington reaction to this proposal is received, whether favorable or otherwise, we would consider that troop arrangement discussions were effectively concluded. Park inquired whether I thought reaction to their I Corps proposal would be favorable. I replied I unable to say, that I had recommended favorable considerations as had General Michaelis. Park again nodded, and said “all right.”
Continuing, I said this would bring us to dealing with problem of eight-point proposal which ROK Foreign Office had been strongly [Page 194]urging that we accept.4 We had made it clear in Washington and Seoul that it was simply not practical to proceed along lines they proposed, and that to attempt to do so could have very unfortunate effect on congressional consideration of programs benefiting ROK, including modernization. We regretted necessity for this stand, but Symington subcommittee hearings had surely made clear to ROKG considerable sensitivity that exists in Congress toward matters connected with our commitments. We urged ROKG to leave well enough alone. First things had to come first, and by that I meant we must be free to approach Congress on modernization and other programs without having to cope with accusation that we were enlarging on our commitments. This was my government’s view, I said, and I personally convinced that ROKG insistence on anything like eight-point “agreed minutes” would have very adverse effect on important ROK interests. I urged him both personally and officially to put these proposals aside and have confidence that we knew best how to advance ROK interests. Without making any other comment, Park said quite simply that he agreed. I said I appreciated his wise decision. I summed up this part of conversation by saying that as I understood it, when our response to ROK proposal about I Corps arrives, we will consider our military arrangements have been concluded. I would then approach the govt with draft statement for their consideration which would say that we had made satisfactory progress in those matters, and which, for purposes of public reassurance, would take note of fact that our commitment remained unchanged. President Park indicated assent to this understanding.
Comment: I was surprised to some extent by Park’s acquiescence, though we had feeling here that various factors were working on him, including of course congressional factor, and pressure from opposition which is discussed septel. ROKs had tried to arrange things their way, but were facing need for conclusion for both U.S. and ROK domestic reasons. I consider that this conversation effectively phased out Foreign Minister’s drive for eight-point type of document, and I will check with Secretary General Kim of Blue House to ensure that both FonMin and DefMin are informed along lines cited above. There could be some hang-up on DefMin’s side if we are unable to agree to their proposal about I Corps, but even there Park did not seem inclined to stick to their previous line. Odd thing about that, also, is recently announced appointment of ROK Deputy Commander for I Corps.
General Michaelis has seen.
Other subjects discussed reported septels.
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 15–1 KOR S. Confidential; Exdis.
  2. Dated November 5, it reported the Department’s views on several issues: the need for additional talks with Park on troop reductions; presentation of possible resolution of the salmon fishing problem; and foreknowledge that the military modernization package was before the EA/IG Steering Committee. (Ibid.)
  3. Dated November 4, it contained Porter’s request for the Department’s views on his meeting with Park. (Ibid.)
  4. See Document 74.