HC Deb 03 March 1948 vol 448 cc365-6
8. Mr. Teeling

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has any statement to make on the present position in Korea.

Mr. Bevin

At the Moscow Conference in December, 1945, it was decided to set up a Joint Soviet-American Commission, composed of representatives of the Soviet and United States Commands in Korea, who were to consult with the Korean democratic parties, with a view to the establishment of a provisional Government. Unfortunately, the activities of the Joint Commission were frustrated by the insistence of the Soviet members that only Korean parties of the extreme Left could be regarded as democratic.

After exhausting every effort to make progress within the framework of the Moscow decision, the United States Government decided to place the Korean question before the United Nations; and, on 14th November last, the General Assembly passed resolutions providing for the setting up of a Temporary Commission to proceed to Korea to organise elections throughout the country, and for the subsequent creation of a National Assembly and National Government. The Soviet Government announced that they would not co-operate in the implementation of these resolutions; and, when the Temporary Commission arrived in Korea, the Soviet authorities carried their defiance of the United Nations to the point of refusing the Commission all facilities in their Zone of occupation. On 26th February, the Interim Committee of the United Nations, to whom the Temporary Commission had reported this situation, approved a proposal that the Commission should proceed to arrange elections in that part of Korea to which it has access. The Southern Zone alone includes, in fact, two-thirds of the population of Korea.

In the meantime, there had been reports from the Soviet zone to the effect that the North Korean People's Congress had drafted the Constitution of a "Democratic People's Republic" which would claim sovereignty over all Korea, and that the Constitution would be finally drafted about the middle of March. Such details of this Constitution, as have been broadcast, indicate that it will be virtually a carbon copy of Constitutions imposed in other Soviet-satellite countries. This development, in the view of His Majesty's Government, emphasises the importance of the early establishment, by properly supervised democratic elections, of a Korean administration in the South.

Mr. Teeling

While thanking the right hon. Gentleman for his very detailed reply, may I ask him if he does feel that, in the circumstances, it now becomes even more important to press, as far as possible, for a quick peace treaty with Japan so as to isolate that particular area, where the position is becoming more and more critical?

Mr. Bevin

That is another question