396.1 GE/7–2054: Telegram

The United States Delegation to the Department of State

top secret

Secto 680. For Secretary from Under Secretary. The Russians are pressing for a signed declaration and have also proposed the following opening paragraph:

“The members of the Geneva Conference, the Ministers for Foreign Affairs of France, of the State of Vietnam, of the United States of America, of Cambodia, of the USSR, of the United Kingdom, of the People’s Republic of China, of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam and of Laos have examined the question of the restoration of peace in Indochina and have reached agreement on the following points.…”

Eden, as co-chairman, is meeting with Molotov this morning in an effort to induce him to drop both proposals and accept the simple heading “Declaration by the Conference” and the procedure that after its presentation each delegate will state his position. I will not know the outcome until about noon, local time, and I will telephone you as soon thereafter as possible. The final session may begin at 4 or 5 p.m.

Whatever happens, I would state approximately the following (Phleger and I are still polishing it up and it is possible that last-minute developments may dictate some slight alteration).


“As I stated on July 18, my government is not prepared to join in a declaration by the conference such as is submitted. However, the United States will make a unilateral declaration of its position in these matters in the following form:


“The Government of the United States being resolved to devote its efforts to the strengthening of peace in accordance with the principles and purposes of the United Nations.

Takes note

Of the agreements concluded at Geneva on July 20, 1954 between the (a) Franco-Laotian Command and the Command of the People’s Army of Vietnam; (b) The Royal Khmer Army Command and the Command of the People’s Army of Vietnam; (c) France-Vietnamese Command and the Command of the People’s Army of Vietnam and of paragraphs one to blank of the declaration thereon considered by the Geneva Conference declares with regard to the aforesaid agreements and paragraphs that (i) it will refrain from the threat or the use of force to disturb them, in accordance with Article 2(4) of the Charter of the United Nations dealing with obligation of members to refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force; and (ii) it would view any renewal of the aggression in violation of them with grave concern and as seriously threatening international peace and security.

[Page 1472]

“In connection with the statement in the declaration concerning free elections in Vietnam, my government wishes to make clear its position which it has expressed in a declaration made in Washington on June 29, 1954, as follows: ‘In the case of nations now divided against their will, we shall continue to seek to achieve unity through free elections, supervised by the United Nations to insure that they are conducted fairly’”.1

Unless you have serious objection, I am strongly of opinion, and Phleger and Johnson concur, that our declaration should include taking note of paragraph 9. (See Tosec 5762 and Secto 6673). We share your concern regarding second half this paragraph, but believe that pointedly to refuse simply to take note of part of this paragraph will cause Communists and some others to believe we actually intended to disregard it and probably would result in Communists insisting that we include it. This could have serious effects. French yesterday, and again today, strongly urged us to include it, pointing out that it is substantially UN Charter language, and that our singling it out for omission carries with it strong implications that we intend to violate it. I had same reaction from UK this morning.4

  1. This statement was taken from a declaration made by President Eisenhower and Prime Minister Churchill in Washington on June 29. For the text of the declaration, see editorial note, p. 1260.
  2. Dated July 19, p. 1459.
  3. Dated July 19, p. 1460.
  4. In telegram Tosec 578, July 20, the Secretary of State instructed Under Secretary Smith to “make declaration as indicated, assuming Conference declaration does not materially vary from Secto 667 and include taking note paragraph 9. This on assumption that declaration is ‘unilateral’, thus avoiding 9 becoming contractual with Communists.” (396.1 GE/7–1954)

    After discussing the matter with the President, the Secretary of State instructed Smith in telegram Tosec 586, July 21: “You are authorized to make unilateral declaration as per Secto 680 with the slight verbal modifications indicated by telephone. We would like, if possible to add following: ‘We share the hope that the agreements will permit Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam to play their part, in full independence and sovereignty, in the peaceful community of nations and will enable the people of that area to determine their own future.’” (396.1 GE/7–2054)

    The telephone communication referred to above was made on July 21 by the Secretary to the U.S. Delegation and is contained in a memorandum from Hennes to Smith, July 21. (Conference files, lot 60 D 627, CF 306)