396.1 GE/7–2154: Telegram

Eighth Plenary Session on Indochina, Geneva, July 21, 3:10 p.m.: The United States Delegation to the Department of State1


Secto 721. Repeated information Paris 130, Saigon 99, London 29, Tokyo 15, Moscow 18, Hanoi 9, Phnom Penh, Vientiane unnumbered. Tokyo pass CINCFE. Department pass Defense. Eighth and final plenary session Indochina conference with Eden in chair opened Wednesday, July 21 at 1500 hours and lasted until 1725. First ten minutes spent taking press photographs.

Eden announced that before opening formal proceedings, he wished to call on representative state of Vietnam. Tran Van Do stated his delegation tabled proposal for armistice without partition, involving disarmament all forces, limited regroupment zones, temporary UN administration of country, and final settlement through free elections. He protested rejection this proposal without examination. He requested conference accept at least demilitarization and neutralization of Catholic bishoprics in south Tonkin delta. He protested fact that armistice for Vietnam had been negotiated by French command, although authority of that command over Vietnamese troops had been delegated from Chief of State of Vietnam. He also protested abandonment of territory still under Vietnamese control and stated that as result Vietnam was deprived of sovereign right to organize its defense without reliance on foreign troops. Finally, he protested inclusion of date for elections in armistice agreement since such provision obviously political in nature. He reserved Vietnam’s right to full freedom of action to safeguard unity, independence and territorial integrity.

[Page 1498]

Mendes-France responded to Do’s statement. He said French delegation did not wish to return to points raised by Vietnamese delegation, but believed French command had acted within its mandate. He further stated French Government has always shared concern of Vietnamese delegation for Catholic bishoprics and expressed hope that recent declaration by Ho Chi Minh concerning Viet Minh intention respect freedom of conscience will be observed.

Eden remarked conference will wish to take note of statements of Vietnam and France.

Eden then proceeded to list agreed documents which were before conference (Secto 6822). He stated agreements on cessation of hostilities were not to be made public pending agreement between parties. He explained agreements should not be published until all cease-fires had been effected.

After completing list of documents Eden requested each delegation declare its position on final conference declaration.3 Responses varied:

France—approved terms of declaration.

Laos—had no observations to make.

Democratic Republic of Vietnam—nodded agreement.

Chinese Communists—agreed.

UK—associated themselves.


Cambodia—protested Eden’s failure to list Cambodian declaration reservations concerning Cambodian-Vietnamese frontier (transmitted Secto 6854) and read text.

(Eden explained that he had only at that instant received Cambodian declaration and expressed opinion that past controversies between Cambodia and Vietnam were not part of task of conference. Dong agreed with Eden and registered “most express reservation” concerning Cambodian statement. Eden declared conference could take note of statements of Cambodia and Democratic Republic of Vietnam.)

US—statement transmitted Secto 711.5

Vietnam—asked following language be inserted after Article 10 in final conference declaration: “Conference takes note of the declaration of the Government of the State of Vietnam undertaking:

“To make and support every effort to re-establish a real and lasting peace in Vietnam; not to use force to resist the procedures for carrying the cease-fire into effect, in spite of the objections and reservations [Page 1499] that the state of Vietnam has expressed, especially in its final statement.”

Eden responded final declaration already drafted and proposed conference take note of Vietnamese statement.

Eden then stated two more pieces of business to be settled:

He suggested that two chairmen send telegrams to governments of India, Poland and Canada, asking them to undertake the armistice supervisory duties proposed by conference. No objection.
He suggested chairmen prepare proposal on allocation of costs on International Commission. Again no objection.

At this point, session appeared to be at point of adjournment. Eden made brief statement concerning conference achievements and expressed his appreciation for cooperation all delegations, hospitality of Swiss Government, and assistance of United Nations. US delegate thanked chairmen for their performance. Molotov replied to US delegate, stressing outstanding role of Eden in conference.

Vietnamese delegate again asked conference include his insertion in final declaration. Eden again replied final declaration could not be amended, but conference could note Vietnamese statement.

Eden then started to declare session closed, but Molotov triggered series of concluding statements by asking to speak, explaining he had believed such statements were to be made.

Molotov’s speech consisted largely of standard Communist themes. Only points of interest were:

Reference to unsolved problem of Korean re-unification;
Cryptic reference to position taken by US on final declaration “fact which we know”;
Assertion that artificial obstacles to international role Communist China created by aggressive circles now being swept away.

Pham Van Dong followed with equally platitudinous and somewhat emotional pronouncement on accomplishments of conference. He made special reference to DRV policy of freedom of worship in Bui Chu and Phat Diem. He emphasized DRV desire for cultural and economic links with France and ended with appeal to Vietnamese of south, stating “victory is ours, independence is in our hands”.

Chou En-lai followed with statement similar in tone to those of Dong and Molotov and containing no points of particular interest. Laos and Cambodia then delivered brief statements on accomplishments of conference. Mendes-France gave final statement, in which he emphasized that success of conference was due to spirit of compromise and that same spirit would be needed in carrying out agreements.

  1. A set of minutes of this meeting (US Verb Min/8) is in Conference files, lot 60 D 627, CF 277. The minutes indicate that the meeting convened at 3:10 p.m. (after 10 minutes for press photographs) and adjourned at 5:20 p.m. The minutes are also printed in Conférence de Genève, pp. 378–392. Extracts of the minutes are printed in Cmd. 9239, pp. 5–9. This message was transmitted in two sections.
  2. Dated July 20, not printed. (396.1 GE/7–2054) For the three armistice agreements, the final declaration, and all of the final declarations made by Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, and France, see pp. 1505 ff.
  3. For the final conference declaration, Indochina Document IC/43 Rev. 2, July 21, see p. 1540.
  4. Dated July 20, p. 1476.
  5. Infra