Department of State

April 18, 1968

From: H. G. Torbert, Jr.
Acting Assistant Secretary
For Congressional Relations
Dept. of State

To: Senator Edward W. Brooke
United States Senate

We have raised this matter at the United Nations Security Council and through other diplomatic channels. Our first contact with North Korea was at an already scheduled meeting of the Military Armistice Commission in Panmunjom on January 24. Since then the Senior United States Member of the Military Armistice Commission has been engaged in a series of private meetings with the North Korean Senior Member at Panmunjom. Fourteen such meetings have been held thus far. We have refrained from disclosing the substance of these private meetings at Panmunjom, as such disclosure might seriously hamper our continuing efforts to obtain the release of the crew and the ship.

The most recent development is the carefully coordinated letter writing campaign stressing three basic North Korean themes: The men are being treated well; they are convinced that PUEBLO committed espionage; the United States should apologize. We tend to believe the men are being treated well. It is in North Koreaís interest to keep them in good health. Numerous pictures included in the menís letters show men who appear to be well.

On the other hand, we do not consider any of the letters of alleged confessions emanating from North Korea as valid evidence of PUEBLOís actions. Our public statements have correctly indicated that PUEBLO was gathering electronic intelligence, that this was a perfectly legal operation, in no sense in the category of espionage, and that the Commanding Officer had strict orders to stay at least thirteen nautical miles from North Korean territory. We know, by radio transmissions both from PUEBLO and North Korean Patrol Boats, that at the time of seizure, PUEBLO was more than 15 miles from North Korean territory. North Korea has produced nothing to prove that PUEBLO ever did violate North Koreaís claimed twelve mile territorial limit.

Provided by Harry Iredale

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