A. Note on Sources and Presentation of Material for the Geneva Conference on Indochina

1. The nature of the Conference

The Indochina phase of the Geneva Conference began on May 8, the day after the fall of Dien Bien Phu, and continued until July 21. Although the line between the two sides was not as clearly drawn as it was in the Geneva Conference on Korea, the Geneva Conference on Indochina was essentially a two-sided affair. France and her allies, Cambodia, Laos, the State of Vietnam, the United Kingdom, and the United States, confronted three Communist Delegations, the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, the People’s Republic of China, and the Soviet Union.

The negotiations which moved at a fairly steady rate of progress were carried out in formal plenary and restricted sessions and at many private meetings and social occasions. In addition to negotiating a settlement to the war in Indochina, the representatives of France, the United Kingdom, and the United States engaged in considerable discussion on the question of collective security in Southeast Asia.

While the plenary sessions were not open to the public, statements and proposals made in these sessions were summarized in press briefings and in most instances the texts were made available to the press. The restricted sessions were closed entirely and only a very small amount of information on the deliberations was made available to the press.

2. Presentation of the material

In compiling the documentation on the formal proceedings of the Geneva Conference on Indochina, telegraphic summaries were used to cover the plenary and restricted sessions, with footnote references to the verbatim or summary minutes of each session. Proposals and statements made in the sessions were handled in the same manner.

Except for the presentation of the final Conference documents, the documentation is set forth in strictly chronological order, with no topical breakdowns. Where telegraphic summaries of meetings were transmitted some time after the events, the documents were given an italic heading to show the time of the meeting and have been placed in the compilation at that time.

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Because of the close interrelationship between the pre-Conference and Conference deliberations and the events in Indochina, volume XIII, Indochina, must be consulted. Additional relevant documentation is also included in volume VI, Western Europe; volume VII, Germany and Austria; and volume XII, East Asia and the Pacific.

3. Unpublished sources

The principal source of documentation in the Department of State central files is decimal file 396.1 GE (the Geneva Conference file). Some preliminary material is contained in file 396.1 BE (the Berlin Conference file), and additional papers are in the main decimal files for Indochina, 751G.00 and 751G.5.

Several Department of State lot files are important. The large, consolidated Conference file, lot 60 D 627, contains the best single collection of material on the Conference. Also of considerable value is a lot file of the Bureau of Far Eastern Affairs, FE files, lot 60 D 330, and a lot file of the Policy Planning Staff, PPS files, lot 65 D 101.

In addition, various groups of files, in particular the papers of John Foster Dulles, in the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library in Abilene, Kansas, contain considerable material on Indochina and the Geneva Conference.

4. Published sources

The minutes of the plenary and restricted sessions, proposals made by the delegations, and final documents adopted by the Conference on Indochina were printed in Conférence de Genève sur L’Indochine (8 mai-21 juillet 1954), issued by the Ministère des Affaires Etrangères of France in 1955. Many of the proposals and statements made in the sessions were printed in two British White Papers, Documents Relating to the Discussion of Korea and Indo-China at the Geneva Conference, April 27–June 15, 1954 (Cmd. 9186, June 1954) and Further Documents Relating to the Discussion of Indo-China at the Geneva Conference, June 16–July 21, 1954 (Cmd. 9239, August 1954).

Some materials which appear in this compilation were printed in the “Pentagon Papers”—United States Department of Defense, United States-Vietnam Relations, 1945–1967 (12 volumes; Washington, Government Printing Office, 1971).

A number of public pronouncements were printed in the Department of State Bulletin for 1954 and in the Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Dwight D. Eisenhower. 1954 (Washington. Government Printing Office, 1960).

Two unofficial accounts of the Indochina phase of the Geneva Conference are Philippe Devillers and Jean Lacouture, End of a Wan: Indochina, 1954 (New York, Frederick A. Praeger, 1969) and Robert F. Handle, [Page 399] Geneva 1954: The Settlement of the Indochinese War (Princeton, Princeton University Press, 1969). In addition, three works which contain considerable information on the Conference are Allan W. Cameron, Viet-Nam Crisis: A Documentary History, Volume I, 1940–1956 (Ithaca, Cornell University Press, 1971); Anthony Eden’s memoirs, Full Circle (Boston, Houghton Mifflin Company, 1960); and Dwight D. Eisenhower, Mandate for Change, 1953–1956 (Garden City, Doubleday, 1963). The Department of State assumes no responsibility for the accuracy of fact or interpretation in these unofficial publications.