Korean peninsula: USA’s Carter admin pushed for secret talks in ’70s

Seoul: Almost two decades after the end of the Korean War, USA’s Jimmy Carter administration had pushed for secret tripartite talks in Jakarta in 1979, declassified documents highlighted.

The USA had sought to hold a meeting with South Korea and North Korea to reduce military tensions in Asia, but received a lukewarm response from North Korea, leading to the meeting’s cancellation.

Then US President Jimmy Carter had shown his appreciation for Indonesia, who played the role of an intermediary, in the document that was released by a US academic, James F. Person. The document has been addressed to Indonesia’s then-President Suharto, whose role was acknowledged by Carter.

“Your statesmanlike gesture has made it possible to begin a process which can only serve to reduce tensions in Asia and contribute to peace in the world,” Carter had said according to Yonhap News Agency.

Meanwhile, other documents with an earlier date highlight that efforts were made by the USA in 1977 as well towards a trilateral talk. Plans were in order to invite China, as a full-time member or an observer, for a quadrilateral summit as well.

“The President has read your paper concerning possible trilateral discussions between North Korea, South Korea, and the United States, and has indicated that you should proceed to implement the suggested steps,” Zbigniew Brzezinski the National Security Advisor (NSA) in Carter’s administration stated in a note addressed to Secretary of State Cyrus Vance on August 5, 1977.

“Alternatively, if the Chinese choose not to participate at all, we would be prepared to join trilateral discussions with the North and South Koreans to consider matters of mutual concern, including the future of the UN Command and other measures to reduce tensions on the peninsula,” the NSA’s message further read.