Heo Dam seeks to replace the armistice with a peace treaty and establish direct contact with the United States to remove American troops from the peninsula.
March 24, 1974
Telegram from Pyongyang to Bucharest, SECRET, Urgent, No. 060.127
This document was made possible with support from Leon Levy Foundation
To: Comrade George Macovescu, Foreign Minister
On Sunday, March 24, Heo Dam [Ho Tam], Vice-Premier of the Administrative Council, Minister of Foreign Affairs, invited to an audience the Romanian Charge d’Affaires, Aurelian Lazar, whom the former, on behalf of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea government, informed of the new measures to be adopted at the third session of the Supreme People’s Assembly (which is under way) on matters regarding the independent and peaceful unification of the homeland, with the request to relay the information to the government of the Socialist Republic of Romania.
After providing an overview of the latest initiatives of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea government regarding the unification of the homeland, unfinished because of the opposition of the South Korean authorities, directly orchestrated by the Chief of Staff of the US armed forces in Seoul, Heo Dam mentioned that, after analyzing the current situation, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea government reached the conclusion that in the current phase it is necessary to establish direct contacts with the United States of America.
Heo Dam put forward the following ideas to justify this position, which we sum up as follows:
1. In order to expedite the independent and peaceful unification, certain conditions, indispensable to this process, must be created, namely: the cessation of American interference in the internal affairs of South Korea; the withdrawal of US troops and the replacement of the current armistice with a long-lasting peace treaty.
2. The authorities in Seoul are not interested and vehemently opposing such a change.
3. Given that the Americans are controlling the entire situation in South Korea and that they represent the signatory authority of the 1953 armistice on behalf of the UN forces and that they can be counted as a signatory party to a possible peace treaty in Korea, the current session of the Supreme People’s Assembly will decide to adopt certain measures regarding the initiation of direct contacts between the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and the United States of America.
In case the Americans agree, the meetings between North Korea and the United States would take place in Panmunjeom or in a different third country, at a higher level than the heads of the armistice commissions (Major Generals – our note).
With a view to establishing contacts with the United States, the session of the Supreme People’s Assembly will adopt on March 25th or 26th a “letter to the US Congress” which contains a draft treaty between the two countries, specifying the following matters (which we summarized):
a. The two parties commit themselves to eliminating those factors which generate tension and armed conflicts, they commit themselves to refrain from using military force and [they commit themselves] not to attack each other.
The United States of America commits itself to refrain from actions meant to support the secessionist actions of the authorities in Seoul, to refrain from supporting the warmongering provocations of South Korea, to refrain from any act which may forestall the process of independent and peaceful unification, according to the three principles of the North-South Joint Declaration from July 4, 1972.
b. The two parties commit themselves to stop the arms races on Korean territory and to prohibit the insertion of weapons and military equipment from the outside.
c. The UN mandate possessed by foreign troops stationed in South Korea must be abolished and foreign troops must be withdrawn from Korea as soon as possible.
d. After the withdrawal of all foreign troops, South Korea must cease to be used as a military base, [and] Korea must not be transformed into a theatre of operations for new military confrontations.
Subsequently, Heo Dam mentioned that the Democratic People's Republic of Korea sincerely wants to establish direct contacts with the United States of America, and that it plans to keep the initiative in exposing the actions of the South and in the achievement of the unification of the country.
The Vice-Premier showed that in case the United States of America rejects the initiative of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, then the North Koreans would expose them in front of the world public opinion as the main factor hostile to the unification of Korea.
Heo Dam underlined that the Korean Workers' Party and the government of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea cherish the consistent and sincere support offered by the Romanian party and state leadership to the cause of Korea’s unification.
He expressed his conviction that the government of the Socialist Republic of Romania, just like in the past, would continue to support the position of the DRPK, including its recent initiatives.
Heo Dam mentioned that the briefing of the Romanians on this matter prior to their actual occurrence is circumscribed in the context of the sincere friendship existing between the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and the Socialist Republic of Romania.
Signed: Aurelian Lazar
In the aftermath of the failed inter-Korean dialogues, the North Koreans conclude that they must establish diplomatic relations with the United States. The telegram describes the rationale behind the move and the goal of limiting the interference of the United States on the Korean Peninsula. According to the author, North Korea believes that the rejection of the US to establish relations with the DPRK will expose Washington's opposition to the unification of Korea.
The History and Public Policy Program welcomes reuse of Digital Archive materials for research and educational purposes. Some documents may be subject to copyright, which is retained by the rights holders in accordance with US and international copyright laws. When possible, rights holders have been contacted for permission to reproduce their materials.
To enquire about this document's rights status or request permission for commercial use, please contact the History and Public Policy Program at [email protected].
Original Uploaded Date