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139 Australian Delegation, United Nations, to Department of External Affairs

Cablegram UN170, NEW YORK, 24 February 1948, 8.43 p.m.


Interim Committee. Korea.

1. At the opening today Jessup stated the United States position and advanced the proposals quoted in our UN.167.[1] He argued that the Assembly when it passed the resolution had known U.S.S.R. would not co-operate. Thus there was no new element in the situation. Regarding the possibility of election of representatives for consultative purposes under the resolution he maintained that the Assembly had envisaged only one election i.e. for a National Assembly.

2. China, Greece and Turkey supported United States and Bolivia and Ecuador also made diffuse statements of which the general effect was to support the United States position.

3. Canada opposed the United States proposal in the grounds that the Commission could not carry out the Assembly's directive, that the Assembly clearly intended election in all Korea and that Interim Committee could not depart from the decision of the Assembly. Pearson opposed election in the South even for consultative purposes. The Assembly resolutions must, he said, be regarded as an integrated whole and the Assembly alone could modify the mandate of the Commission.

4. We made a general statement recalling the views expressed by the Minister during Assembly debate and stressing the fact that all agree on need for unity in Korea. We expressed regret at non-co-operation of U.S.S.R. and indicated clearly that United States - Soviet agreement at the Peace conference or before was the key to the position. We then analysed the powers of the Interim Committee in accordance with your telegram 99.[2] We said establishment of the Government in part of Korea was contrary to the Assembly resolution but suggested that there might be value in election of representatives who could keep in consultation with the Commission on steps to establish a National Assembly for all Korea. We attempted to show that Commission could continue positive work without taking steps which would perpetuate division between North and South.

5. We had useful talk with Djabi, Syrian representative on the Korean Commission and hope that el-Khouri[3] will tomorrow make a statement substantially similar to our own though all Arabs are absorbed in the Palestine question in the Security Council. Menon[4] told us privately he agreed with our analysis but that United States had made strong appeal to the Indian Government and he did not know what his instructions would be. The New Zealand delegation have not received definite instructions but state that it seems likely they will support United States. We assume you have pressed our view in Wellington. United Kingdom have also indicated that they will probably support American proposal. Scandinavian members and a few others may abstain but it seems likely that United States resolution will be passed by fair majority.

7.[5] Interim Committee meets tomorrow Wednesday morning at 10.30. Few speakers listed as yet and discussion of the proposed resolution may move fairly quickly. In view of above, subject to your further instructions we do not propose to table a proposal unless debate develops unexpectedly in favour of our line (see paragraph 4 above).[6]

[1] Dispatched 24 February 1948. The United States proposed that UNTCOK proceed to designate the voting areas and dates for the holding of elections for a national assembly. Since the commission would be unable to observe elections everywhere simultaneously, the United States proposed that elections be held seriatim beginning in the southern provinces and working northwards.

[2] Document 137.

[3] F. el-Khouri, Syrian permanent representative to the United Nations and representative on the Interim Committee.

[4] K.P.S. Menon, chairman of UNTCOK.

[5] A note at the end of the cablegram reads: '(Paragraph 6 not marked)'.

[6] On 26 February 1948 the Interim Committee adopted the United States' proposal by 31 to 2. Australia and Canada voted against it.

[AA : A1838, 3123/4/6]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013

Category: International relations

Topic: History