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Digital Archive International History Declassified

April 02, 1962

REPORT BY THE AMBASSADOR OF THE CZECHOSLOVAK SOCIALIST REPUBLIC TO MOSCOW, RICHARD DVORàK, TO FIRST SECRETARY OF THE CENTRAL COMMITTEE OF THE CZECHOSLOVAK COMMUNIST PARTY AND PRESIDENT OF THE CZECHOSLOVAK SOCIALIST REPUBLIC, ANTONíN NOVOTNý

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    Ambassador of the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic to Moscow, Richard Dvoràk, reports on his conversation with the Korean Ambassador to Moscow as well as the complicated relations between North Korea, Albania, Vietnam, China, and the Soviet Union.
    "Report by the Ambassador of the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic to Moscow, Richard Dvoràk, to First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Czechoslovak Communist Party and President of the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic, Antonín Novotný," April 02, 1962, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, Central State Archive, Central Committee of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia, Novotny Papers, 16.4.62, 23-26/1696, 17/4. Translated by Vojtech Mastny. https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/111187
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Dear Comrade,

Enclosed I am sending a memorandum on the conversation I had on 30 April [sic] with the Korean ambassador to Moscow, Comrade Ri Song-un [Ri Song Un]. Because of the importance of the contents of this conversation, I immediately visited Comrade Andropov to inform him about the contents.

After having heard my report, Comrade Andropov reached the following preliminary conclusions:

1. He considers the conversation very important.

2. It must be assumed that Comrade Ri Song-un did not conduct the conversation on his own initiative, but had been instructed to do so. (I had the same impression. This seems supported by the fact that he had reacted to my invitation only two days later.)

3. With the Soviet comrades there has been thus far no such open conversation. The Korean comrades apparently did not consider it appropriate to talk with the Soviet comrades directly.

4. He [Ri Song-un] probably used me as an intermediary knowing the close relations between our party and the CPSU. He is evidently certain that this way the contents of the conversation will be passed on to the proper address.

In the further course of the conversation, Comrade Andropov said the following: The situation in the Korean party is complicated. Even within the Politburo, one group is openly pro-Chinese. During the last visit of the Soviet comrades, Kim Il Sung took on the whole a reasonable position.

According to Comrade Andropov, Comrade Ri Song-un's reference to the cult of personality is worth noting. The Soviet side will probably have to draw certain conclusions from it. Concerning the cult of personality, already some time ago there had been some unpleasantness when after the 20th Congress Peng Dehuai, together with some Soviet comrades, was trying to convince the Korean comrades that it was necessary to abandon the cult of personality of Kim Il Sung. Once this question was taken up by the parties, Peng Dehuai abandoned his original intention and unfairly left the blame on the Soviet comrades. From now on it might therefore be necessary not to publicize such questions too much so that we could avoid the impression of trying to interfere in the internal affairs of other parties. This conclusion seems necessary to him after the experience of the Soviet comrades during their recent visit to Vietnam. There was a similar story about the question of peaceful coexistence. Some Vietnamese comrades pointed out that some statements by Comrade Khrushchev include passages mentioning peaceful coexistence, but nothing about the liberation struggle of former colonial countries. When the Soviet comrades tried to argue against this distortion of the facts, neither their references to previous basic statements on this question, nor those to the text of the program of the CPSU was of any help. Consequently, the statement on this question by Comrade Khrushchev in his March 18 election speech was not accidental. It underlines the connection between peaceful coexistence and the national liberation struggle of the oppressed peoples. Ill intent in this whole matter is obvious. We have discussed these questions with the Chinese comrades at least ten times, so that they can have no doubts about the interpretation of the term peaceful coexistence. With the Vietnamese comrades, however, we have not yet discussed them in any such depth. In Vietnam, to be sure, it's easy enough to mislead people since the level of party work suffers, among other things, from the fact that the majority of cadres such as district secretaries take classes for the liquidation of illiteracy after their normal work. It is quite obvious from where the waters are being muddied.

Regarding the conversation with Comrade Ri Song-un, Comrade Andropov added that it is improbable that he would have started such an extensive discussion without an outside incentive, as Comrade Ri Song-un is known for speaking little and saying only what he has been instructed to say. Otherwise, Soviet comrades consider him an honest party official.

The fact that Comrade Ri Song-un passes on the Korean view in this fashion may mean that some initiative is underway. It is hard to tell whether the incentive for the discussion originated from the Chinese side without Comrade Ri Song-un's knowledge. The ideas about the elder brother are nothing new. The Soviet comrades were reproached for them already in the earlier stages of the dispute. The fact that Comrade Ri Song-un referred several times to the danger of Albania's defection to the capitalist camp may be explained by the incipient awareness of this danger also in other quarters. In this respect, there is the interesting information that a large number of Chinese experts, particularly military ones, landed in Albania, whose mission is apparently preventing the defection of Albania to the other side. The Chinese comrades are undoubtedly clear about their responsibility for this development.

The Chinese side has not yet replied to the letter by the CPSU delivered in Beijing on the 22nd of February. Comrade Andropov uses this opportunity to explain that the Soviet side fully agrees with the sharper tone of our letter. In their own special situation, the Soviet comrades consider it more appropriate to take a milder tone in their letter. The Soviet side is expecting a Chinese answer, as leaving the letter unanswered would be disadvantageous for the Chinese comrade.

Recently one can notice a diminished publicity of Albanian events in the Chinese press. It may be expected that there will no longer be open confrontations with Chinese comrades on the main questions, but rather exchanges of opinion in peripheral areas such as Korea, Vietnam and so on.