Harry S. Truman photo

Statement by the President on General Ridgway's Korean Armistice Proposal.

May 07, 1952

THE UNITED STATES fully approves and supports without qualification the proposal for reaching an armistice which General Ridgway has offered to the Communist aggressors in Korea.

Last July the United Nations forces had repulsed Communist aggression in Korea, had proved to the Communists that aggression cannot pay, and had brought new hope for peace to free men around the world. The Soviet Union then indicated that Korean hostilities could be terminated by a military armistice. The United Nations Command in good faith and in a sincere desire to find a basis for a peaceful settlement began armistice talks with the Communists in Korea.

After many trying months of negotiation, in which each issue has been dealt with individually, tentative agreement has been reached on all but three issues. It is now apparent that the three remaining issues cannot be resolved separately. The United Nations Command proposal offers a just and a real opportunity to resolve these three issues together and simultaneously. The three-point proposal is:

1. That there shall not be a forced repatriation of prisoners of war--as the Communists have insisted. To agree to forced repatriation would be unthinkable. It would be repugnant to the fundamental moral and humanitarian principles which underlie our action in Korea. To return these prisoners of war in our hands by force would result in misery and bloodshed to the eternal dishonor of the United States and of the United Nations.

We will not buy an armistice by turning over human beings for slaughter or slavery. The United Nations Command has served the most extreme care in separating those prisoners who have said they would forcibly oppose return to Communist control. We have offered to submit to an impartial rescreening--after an armistice--of those persons we would hold in our custody.

Nothing could be fairer. For the Communists to insist upon the forcible return to them of persons who wish to remain out of their control, is an amazing disclosure before the whole world of the operation of their system.

2. That the United Nations Command will not insist on prohibiting reconstruction or rehabilitation of air fields.

3. That the neutral nations supervisory commission should comprise representatives of four countries; Poland and Czechoslovakia chosen by the Communists, Sweden and Switzerland chosen by the United Nations Command.

The three parts of General Ridgway's proposal are all parts of a whole. They must be considered as an entity--not piecemeal. Our agreement is contingent upon acceptance of the whole proposal. This is our position. The Communists thus far have indicated only a willingness to withdraw their proposal that the USSR be a member of the neutral inspection commission. This spurious issue was raised by them late in negotiations and its withdrawal is no real concession on their part.

The patience and understanding shown by General Ridgway and the United Nations Command negotiators merit the highest praise. In spite of almost overwhelming provocation, they have made real progress in reaching agreement on many substantial terms for an armistice. General Ridgway's proposal offers a sound and sensible way to settle the remaining issues all at once. It will have compelling appeal to those sincerely desiring peace.

Harry S Truman, Statement by the President on General Ridgway's Korean Armistice Proposal. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/230651

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