168 Burton to Mission in Tokyo

Memorandum 401, CANBERRA, 4 July 1949

You may have seen a copy of Memorandum No.16 dated 20th June from Mr. Jamieson in Seoul on the subject of Korean-Australian relations.[1] It appears from this that President Syngman Rhee has recently broached with Mr. Jamieson the question of possible trade between Korea and Australia, and is seeking the Australian Government's reaction to a suggested visit by a Korean goodwill mission.

While the possibility of future trade between Korea and Australia is one which might be usefully explored, we hardly think that a visit by a Korean goodwill mission would serve much purpose at the present time. There are also of course other reasons why we would not wish to show any special favour towards the Syngman Rhee Government, at least until we are satisfied that it deserves some more positive form of recognition than we have given it up to the present. We are unlikely to be making any movement in this direction until after the next session of the General Assembly at the earliest.

On the other hand we would not wish to reject the President's suggestion out of hand. We do not know whether he is likely to raise it again, but if he does he might be informed that the Australian Government is sympathetic with the idea of trade with Korea, and that the matter will be studied by the relevant Government departments, but that we are doubtful whether a goodwill mission could accomplish any useful purpose at the moment.

If Mr. Shaw is still in Seoul when this memorandum reaches you it might be passed on to him to be used informally if Syngman Rhee should raise the question with him.

[1] Document 167.

[AA : A1838, 3127/10/1, I]