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1952: Korea truce talks hit stalemate

Truce talks aimed at ending the fighting in the Korean War remain deadlocked.

After more than 50 meetings in the past few weeks in Panmunjom, the village which straddles the border between North and South Korea, the two sides seem no closer to agreement.

One of the latest sticking points is deciding where 6,000 displaced Koreans should live.

The Communists have also objected to allied proposals about the composition of neutral nation observer teams.

Stalled for weeks

Initially the truce talks stalled over North Korea's insistence on being allowed to rebuild its damaged airfields.

The allies eventually proposed shelving discussion of the airfields in the hope of making more progress in other areas of the talks.

The row has now focussed on the two sides agreeing the number of observers to be included in the inspection teams. The UN originally put forward a figure of 70,000 - which it later reduced to 40,000.

The Communists have raised their offer from an original 5,000 troops to 25,000.

The composition of the neutral nation observer teams has proved another sticking point. Sweden, Switzerland and Norway have been proposed by the Allies.

The Communists have so far failed to come up with any recommendations of their own but it seems likely they will propose the Soviet Union - which would be totally unacceptable to the Allies.

Although the Soviet Union has not intervened militarily in the Korean conflict, it has offered political backing for North Korea and China.

On 27 November 1951 the two sides provisionally agreed on the 38th parallel as the demarcation line between North and South Korea.

Fighting has continued since then. Figures for the past month show the Allies have lost more aircraft than in any other month since the war began in June 1950.

Allied airmen shot down 31 enemy jet fighters in January - but in the same period the United Nations has lost 52 aircraft. Most of the planes were brought down by ground fire.

In Context
A few days later negotiators were able to claim the two sides had moved closer to an armistice following what was described as "the most productive" of their meetings so far.

However, negotiations once again stalled over the Communists' insistence on the Soviet Union being one of the neutral observer nations and there were also problems over the repatriation of Prisoners of War.

In May 1952 the UN Command decided to mount a new aerial offensive in an effort to kickstart the truce talks.

Air raids were launched against enemy airfields, railways and other lines of communication. The strategically-important Suiho hydro-electric plant and other power stations were also hit.

In the end it was two external factors - the election of President Dwight Eisenhower and his threat of nuclear force as well as the death of Soviet leader Josef Stalin - which caused a slight power shift in favour of the UN and the allies and finally secured the armistice.

It was signed on 27 July 1953 - but a peace deal has never been reached. American troops remain stationed in the de-militarized zone on and around the 38th parallel separating North and South Korea.


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