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For fifty days in 1954, many of the Cold War’s preeminent figures met in Geneva to deal with “the Korean question,” how to reunite and bring peace to a Korean Peninsula that had been divided since 1945 and which had just endured three years of devastating warfare.  The ongoing war in Indochina was also on the agenda but for the US delegation was a secondary concern.  Although the Geneva Conference on Korea ended in failure, proposals were offered, compromises were considered, and surprises occurred.  South Korea, which initially opposed holding an international conference at all, unilaterally sprang toward the end of the conference an ambitious fourteen-point proposal that was rejected by the Soviet Union, China, and North Korea – to the relief of the US delegation.1  By July 20, when the Geneva Conference finally ended, it had failed to unite Korea, but had divided Vietnam.

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