245. Backchannel Message 0818 From the Ambassador to the Republic of Korea (Habib) to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger), Seoul, August 24, 1973, 0615Z.1 2
August 24, 1973, 0615Z
0 240615Z AUG 73 ZYH
TO THE WHITE HOUSE
FM AMBASSADOR HABIB SEOUL 818
TO THE WHITE HOUSE - IMMEDIATE - EYES ONLY DR. KISSINGER
REF: WH 31940
- I SPOKE TO PRESIDENT PARK ABOUT PEKING CONTACT WITH NORTH KOREANS IN ACCORDANCE WITH INSTRUCTIONS REFTEL. PRESIDENT PARK AGREES TO THE FIRST MEETING AS YOU PROPOSED. HE ALSO AGREES WITH YOUR BELIEF THAT WE SHOULD NOT ACCEPT A SECOND MEETING UNLESS THE PRC IS PREPARED TO RESPOND TO ROK APPROACHES FOR CONTACT. HE IS HOPEFUL THAT WE WILL BE SUCCESSFUL IN THIS LATTER REGARD.
- PRESIDENT PARK SAID HE WISHES TO STRESS THAT THE MEETING WITH THE NORTH KOREANS SHOULD NOT BE MADE PUBLIC. HE FEARS THAT NORTH KOREANS MIGHT WISH TO PUBLICIZE SUCH A MEETING IN ORDER TO EMBARRASS HIS GOVERNMENT BY MAKING IT APPEAR THAT THE U.S. IS GOING OVER ROKG HEAD TO DEAL DIRECTLY WITH NORTH KOREANS. HE APPRECIATED THAT WE COULD NOT GUARANTEE SECRECY ON THE PART OF THE OTHER SIDE BUT WAS HOPEFUL WE WOULD MAKE EVERY EFFORT TO AVOID PUBLIC DISCLOSURE.
- THE PRESIDENT DID NOT GIVE ANY INDICATION AS TO THE LEVEL AT WHICH HE PREFERS WE MAKE THE CONTACT. I GAVE HIM THE OPPORTUNITY TO DO SO BUT DID NOT ACTIVELY SOLICIT A RESPONSE FROM HIM SO AS TO LEAVE YOU WITH A FREE HAND. SIMILARLY, HE DID NOT EXPRESS ANY PREFERENCE AS TO THE PLACE AT WHICH CONTACT SHOULD BE MADE. HE DID ASK THAT WE KEEP HIM INFORMED OF THE RESULTS AND I PROMISED TO DO SO.
- AS TO MY VIEWS WHICH YOU REQUESTED, I FAVOR PROCEEDING AS PROPOSED, BUT WOULD SUGGEST WE MAKE FIRST CONTACT AT LEVEL JUST BELOW USLO CHIEF AND MEET SOMEWHERE OTHER THAN USLO. I AGREE WITH PARK THAT IT WOULD CREATE SOME PROBLEMS FOR HIM IF MEETING IS PUBLICIZED. HOWEVER, WE CAN LIVE WITH PUBLIC KNOWLEDGE IF IT COMES OUT THAT WAY, PARTICULARLY IF MEETING IS AT SECOND LEVEL AND IN INFORMAL SURROUNDINGS.
- Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 527, Country Files, Far East, PRC, Volume 8, July 10, 1973–December 31, 1973. Secret; Sensitive; Exclusively Eyes Only. Habib’s backchannel telegram was Tab C of a memorandum, August 24, from Richard Solomon to Kissinger. (Ibid.) The meeting between the North Korean Chargé and members of the USLO in Bejing is described ibid., HAK Office Files, Box 95, Country Files, Far East, Folder 4 [2 of 2], China Exchange, 7/10/73–10/31/73.↩
- Habib reported on a meeting with Park and a proposed meeting with North Korean officials in Beijing.↩