Political Developments During June 1951
While the long-term political aim of the United Nations with
respect to Korea remained the unification of the country, the
immediate object had become a cease-fire on the 38th Parallel.
As the Secretary General, Mr. Trygve Lie, pointed out in an
address in Ottawa on 1 June 1951, "...the main purpose of the
Security Council resolutions of June 25 and July 7 will be
fulfilled, provided that the cease-fire is followed by the
restoration of peace and security in the area."
But what of the attitude of the Communist powers towards
such a proposal? The first indication came on 23 June, when
Mr. Jacob Malik, Russia's permanent delegate to the U.N., stated
in a radio broadcast: "The Soviet peoples believe that as a
first step discussions should be started between the belligerents
for a cease-fire and an armistice providing for the mutual
withdrawal of forces from the 38th Parallel". Two days later the
Peiping radio announced that Communist China fully endorsed the
Russian stand. Thus both the United Nations and the Soviet bloc
had come to agree, if only in principle, on the desirability of
an early cease-fire and a peaceful settlement of the Korean
question. That the termination of hostilities would not "ensure
conditions of stability throughout Korea" (as expressed in the
U.N. General Assembly's resolution of 7 October 1950) unless
precautions were taken against a renewal of the conflict was
fully realized by the major democratic powers. The proposed
arrangement was only a step towards the ultimate objective of the
U.N. in Korea; but the ROK President, Mr. Syngman Rhee, regarded
it as an abandonment of that objective. South Korean opposition
to a cease-fire was to prove a source of considerable
embarrassment to the United Nations.
On the last day of June General Ridgway, having been
authorized to enter into truce negotiations with the Communists,
sent the following message to the NKPA Supreme Commander (General
Kim Il Sung):
I am informed that you may wish a meeting to discuss an armistice
providing for the cessation of hostilities and all acts of armed force in
Korea, with adequate guarantees for the maintenance of such armistice.
Upon the receipt of word from you that such a meeting is desired I shall
be prepared to name my representative. I would also at that time suggest a
date at which he could meet with your representative . . ..
General Kim and the commander of the Chinese "volunteer"
forces, General Peng The-Huai, whose reply was broadcast from
Peiping next day, suggested that such a meeting be held between
10 and 15 July, on the 38th Parallel near Kaesong.
Cease-fire talks began on 10 July, but not until almost five
months had elapsed were they to produce any apparent effect on
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