233. Memorandum From John Holdridge of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger), Washington, March 1, 1973.1 2


March 1, 1973


SUBJECT: Secretary Rogers Gets Out in Front on U.S. Korea Policy

During South Korean Foreign Minister Kim Yong-shik’s call on Secretary Rogers on February 22, the Secretary told Kim that, while the U.S. does not plan any major changes in policy toward North Korea, South Korea should not take offense at such changes as do occur. He noted that it has become more difficult in the past year as North Korea has moderated its hostility to continue to tell other countries to desist from contacts with North Korea. He said that in consequence the USG no longer discourages U.S. citizens from travelling to North Korea, and that we now believe that the more exchange and trade the better.

Assistant Secretary Marshall Green in a subsequent discussion with Kim suggested that South Korea reconsider whether it should continue to spend so much political capital trying to dissuade other governments from opening contacts with North Korea. He argued that third country contacts with North Korea could help modify North Korean behavior and would be consistent with South Korea’s own intention to expand contacts with the North. Green asserted, however, that the U.S. believed that recognition of Pyongyang by other governments at this time would be unhelpful, and that the U.S. was trying to discourage others such as Sweden from going this far.


State is once again getting out in front on our Korean policy, and this can only be unsettling to Seoul. It comes at a time when Australian Prime Minister Whitlam has said he is going to expand contacts with North Korea, a number of others such as Sweden are exploring diplomatic recognition of Pyongyang, and Japan is continuing its slow development of non-political contacts with North Korea. It also prejudices our own policy review — we now have an honest, coherent draft on NSSM 154 after almost a year’s effort to secure such a product, and it should be ready for an SRG meeting in two to three weeks.

The Korean Question in the U.N.

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Of related interest, Ambassador Scali on February 26 told the South Korea U.N. Permanent Representative that we believe that the chances for securing postponement of debate on the Korean question in next fall’s General Assembly are doubtful at best, unless there is a breakthrough in the South-North talks.

We are unaware that a basis for such pessimism exists, although USUN has in the past been gloomier in such prognostications than almost anyone else.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Country Files, Far East, Box 544, Korea, Volume 6, January 1973–October 1973. Secret; Sensitive. Sent for information. Kissinger initialed the memorandum on March 20.
  2. Holdridge informed Kissinger about the Department of State’s discussions with South Korea.