The final phase of the Korean War 1951-3

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Start of the peace negotiations

After sacking MacArthur in April 1951, Truman's first priority was to stablise the front and show the Chinese that the USA was determined to defend South Korea. 

He also needed to show Americans and the world that there was a way to end the conflict other than MacArthur's plan to bomb China.

In early May he therefore made secret contact with China and the USSR for a casefire on the basis of the pre-war frontier. He had to keep this secret from Syngman Rhee, who was still determined to unite South Korea under his leadership. 

The USSR and China then publicly declared that they were willing to consider negotiations for a ceasefire and talks began in July 1951.

Why were China and the USSR willing to negotiate?

  • Big Chinese offensives in April-June 1951 failed with the loss of 85,000 casualties plus 17,000 prisoners, many of whom were from experienced combat units. This, plus the shortage of equipment and food lowered morale and showed the success of Ridgeway's attrition strategy
  • Both Mao Zedong and Stalin now realised that a decisive victory at a reasonable cost was not possible
  • The…

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