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Digital Archive International History Declassified

June 07, 1979

PLAN OF RESPONSE TO THE US PROPOSAL FOR THREE-WAY TALKS

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    Analysis on problems of the US proposal for three-way talks and plan of alternative suggestion by ROK government.
    "Plan of Response to the US Proposal for Three-Way Talks," June 07, 1979, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, Roll 2009-36, File 01, Frames 43-51, South Korean Foreign Ministry Archive. http://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/118398
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CONFIDENTIAL

Plan of Response to the U.S. Proposal for Three-Way Talks

June 7, 1979

Ministry of Foreign Affairs

CONFIDENTIAL

[…]

Plan of Response to the U.S. Proposal for Three-Way Talks

I. The U.S. Proposal

Ambassador Gleysteen proposed on June 4, 1979, that the proper authorities of the United States and the Republic of Korea (ROK) begin consultations for the heads of both countries to announce a joint proposal to the North Korean puppet regime for either a summit meeting or high-level talks among the ROK, the United States, and North Korea during President Carter's visit to Korea.

II.  Problems with the Three-Way Talks Proposal and Basic Preconditions

1. Such a dramatic American proposal is valid only when the bond between the United States and the ROK appears firm to everyone. During the current situation where there are serious threats from the North Koreas puppets and tensions between the two Koreas, it is possible that the American proposal could raise the following problems.

A. Recent re-evaluations have revealed an increase in North Korea’s military strength, so it is highly possible that the North Koreans will misjudge that the proposal is coming from weakness on our side.

B. The proposal could generate the illusion of a breakthrough in inter-Korean relations to the Korean people and weaken their sense of national security.

C. It could provide a pretext for Japan and other countries in the West to improve relations with the North Korean puppets. In contrast, it would be difficult to expect communist countries to change their attitude towards the ROK. Therefore, the proposal could potentially lead to the loss of balance in the two Korea's diplomacy in the international arena.  

2. Consequently, whether President Carter has firm resolve regarding security issues such as the U.S. security commitment to the ROK and deferral of additional withdrawals of American ground troops in Korea  will be a precondition for examining the American proposal.

III. The Position of Our Side

(1) We will not completely reject the American proposal of June 4 and will decide upon our course of action after grasping the motives and details of the American proposal. If the proposal is unfavorable to our national interests, we will present an alternative plan and ask for cooperation from the American side.

(2) We must prepare for the danger that it could be used against us by the North Korean puppets – what are the hidden motives behind the U.S. plan (is it a pretext to withdraw troops?)

IV. Plan of Response

1. Grasp the motives behind and details of the American proposal

Obtain sufficient explanation from the Americans about the following matters.

A. Does President Carter himself believe that the American security cooperation with the ROK is strong enough to be able to propose a three-way summit?

B. A clear definition of the three-way conference

Would the U.S. and ROK become one side while the North Korean puppets become the other? Or would each country be an independent party? Who would preside over the conference, and how will the conference be held?

C. What would be the agenda of the conference?

- Withdrawal of American troops stationed in Korea (we oppose this)

- North-South non-aggression pact

- North-South exchanges (including economic exchanges)

- Entry into the UN

- Whether or not the issue of divided families reunions will be included?

D. The time and Venue of the conference?

- Are plans being made to hold a Camp David-style conference, like the Middle East negotiations?

- How does [Carter/the U.S.] view the statement made by Kim Yong Nam, Director of the International Department of the Korean Worker's Party, on May 9, 1979, that the that the Korea question is different from the Middle East issue?

E. Preliminary contact before the main conference and holding the conference

How are plans for procedures being made?

Emphasize that all three parties will participate in all meetings related to the preliminary and main conferences, but the conferences’ leading players will be the North and South.

F. What are the real intentions behind the U.S. proposal for the three-party talks when they also say there is a slim chance the North Korean puppets will agree to participate?

Do they think the three-way talks are just for show domestically and abroad, or are they hoping for real negotiations with the North Korean puppets?  (The statement by Director of the International Department Kim Yong Nam on May 9: North Korea is demanding to replace the armistice agreement with a U.S.-North Korean peace treaty and negotiations on the withdrawal of U.S. troops.)

G. If three-party talks are held, the U.S. and ROK governments must reconfirm that they will sufficiently consult with each other beforehand on all issues, including procedures and agendas, and will deal with the North Korean puppets based on agreed, shared set of positions.

2. Our Alternative Plan

Because a three-party talks proposal plan is as of yet undecided upon, an alternative plan is presented here (This is an alternative plan to be presented to the American side if during the process of questioning and consulting with the American side a situation occurs where our side cannot accept the original [American] plan).

A. Proposal to hold a North-South summit meeting: In an effort to restart North-South dialogue, which was halted unilaterally by the North in August 1973, our side proposed to the North on January 19, 1979, that dialogue take place between representatives of both sides at any time, any place or at any level. Regretfully, this proposal has seen no progress whatsoever. Dialogue between representatives of both sides is indispensible to ease tensions and bring peace to the Korean Peninsula, and our side is willing to propose the holding of a North-South summit meeting to jump-start the currently gridlocked dialogue process. If this happens, we will propose holding a high-level preliminary conference to prepare for the summit conference. We hope that President Carter will support this proposal when he visits the ROK.

B. Consider the Observer Proposal Presented by the U.N. General-Secretary: Coincidentally, U.N. Secretary-General Waldheim visited North and South Korea during the month of May. Following a proposal that he himself mediate the restart of halted North-South dialogue and observe the proceedings, the secretary-general has been contacting the U.N. ambassadors of North and South Korea in New York. It would be desirable to give this proposal an opportunity to play itself out since our side has shown a positive response to it and Kim Il Sung has promised to seriously examine it as well.

C. The joint U.S. and ROK proposal for three-party talks is aimed at bringing about an easing of tensions and ensuring peace on the Korean Peninsula and it is believed that it will contribute to achieving this goal. A request for consultations on the following two issues which the U.S. President could address directly should be made. (Secretary of State Vance also advocated cross-recognition and UN entry during a policy speech he gave on June 29, 1977).

1. Cross-recognition of North and South Korea by the United States, the Soviet Union, China and Japan: The U.S. should approach the leadership of both the Soviet Union and Communist China and emphasize that if they display a friendly attitude toward the ROK, the United States could adopt a favorable attitude toward North Korea. It should encourage them to cross-recognize North and South Korea in the spirit of promoting peace on the Korean peninsula and fairness.

2. North-South Korea U.N. entry: The United States should encourage the Soviet Union and Communist China to take steps for North and South Korea’s separate entry into the U.N. as a transitional measure prior to unification. The entry of the two Koreas into the U.N. will have the effect of establishing what would effectively serve as a durable arena for inter-Korean dialogue for preventing the resumption of war and bringing about peaceful unification on the Korean Peninsula.

D. Continue working-level consultations between the United States and the ROK on the three-party talks issue. End.