7 SEPTEMBER 1951, Page 2

Mystery in Korea

How far events at Kaesong are linked with events at San Francisco is a matter of pure speculation. The theory that they are would provide some sort of explanation , of the Communist negotiators' tactics, but they have been inexplicable before, and they may still be so now. The prolongation of the talks, followed by their suspension, has no doubt given the Communists time to build up their forces, but the United Nations command has not been idle either, and it is unlikely that there has been much relative change in the general position, and the Communist reaction to General Ridgway's sensible proposal for the resumption of negotiations at some centre other than Kaesong will be decisive. For uncertainty cannot con- tinue much longer. The fighting, which was never completely suspended, is now intense, with every sign that a new and well- prepared Communist offensive is pending. General Van Fleet is confident of his ability to deal with it, and if it fails, like its predecessors, with heavy loss to the attackers, the Communists may be disposed to talk truce again. But reports of the organisa- tion of a formidable Communist air-force, based in Manchuria, and the presence of what are obscurely, if euphemistically, described as " Soviet puppet forces " may confront the United Nations with the necessity for serious political decisions. Man. churia, however firm a hold the Soviet Union may have on it, is an integral part of Communist China, and an attack on the air- fields there, which might become an imperative military necessity, would be interpreted as a direct attack on China in a way that the operations in Korea itself cannot be. But the moment for that has not come yet. The Communist attack has not been launched, and it may never be. Events that cannot be predicted must be awaited. General Van Fleet's surprising belief that an armistice will yet be concluded on the basis • of the present front-line positions may prove to be justified. Meanwhile, the United Nations forces must be ready for anything that may come, as there is no reason to doubt that they are.