396.1 GE/4–1654: Telegram

The Ambassador in France (Dillon) to the Department of State


3925. Repeated information London 941, Moscow 305, Saigon 444. Embtel 3897 (London 934, Moscow 301, Saigon 440) April 14.1 April 15 French-UK-US Working Group Conversations Geneva IC Conference.2

Meetings held by working group in morning and afternoon April 15 with next tripartite meeting scheduled April 20.3

Preliminary tripartite ministerial meeting before Geneva. French and UK both favored such meetings and thought time might be found here although Eden not scheduled arrive Paris until evening April 22 after important Cabinet meeting that morning.
Pre-Geneva French-UK-US–USSR contacts. French raised for consideration possibility having preliminary quadripartite meeting with view settling certain four-power organizational aspects IC conference prior April 26 and suggested tripartite working group prepare list questions for possible presentation at such a meeting. It was pointed out, however, that this matter had been largely covered in aide-mémoires delivered Soviets4 and that it would first be necessary see Soviet reply and determine whether Soviet representatives Geneva have authority act. Group agreed would be desirable prepare list those organizational questions to be taken up by representatives four [Page 528] powers at Geneva before April 26 as well as list those other organizational questions requiring ministerial decision.

Participation IC phase. French reported Vietnamese Government views (separate telegram5) to effect they wish participate but on different basis Viet Minh. French also reiterated wish avoid any implication recognition Viet Minh by virtue their possible presence Geneva. We again expressed hope not only that AS be invited but that they accept. UK agreed and expressed hope that negotiations with Vietnam would have reached point that it could come Geneva as fully independent state. UK also stressed importance this connection convincing Asian opinion that AS speak for themselves.

Re number participants IC phase, French reiterated desirability finding formula that would keep conference small as possible and yet sufficiently flexible permit occasional enlargement (reflecting French view desirability according special status AS and Viet Minh). UK expressed preference for five plus three AS and Viet Minh as opposed to including limitrophe countries citing pressures which would be encountered from Commonwealth countries if participation extended beyond IC borders. French reiterated preference for five plus two limitrophe with special status being accorded AS and Viet Minh on theory this best formula keep conference small and avoid confrontation Vietnam and Viet Minh. French, nevertheless, prepared accept presence AS if Vietnam so desires in spite possibility being on equal footing with Viet Minh. In response our question how Viet Minh could be kept out, both French and UK admitted this would be extremely difficult in face anticipated Soviet arguments. French stated they would accept Viet Minh presence only on Berlin formula that presence did not involve recognition. General agreement that distinction could be drawn effectively between status Viet Minh and Soviet Governments Laos and Cambodia, French pointing out that they had no knowledge of Soviet recognition of Pathet Lao or Issarak “governments”.

Possible military settlement IC. French again indicated desirability approach IC problem at Geneva on military plane first and stated they hoped complete study of military application Laniel March cease-fire conditions6 in time for presentation next meeting tripartite group. UK and we reminded French of difficulty involved in attempting separate military and political aspects. In response our question as to French views concerning ultimate political aspects any IC settlement following possible cease-fire, French stated their thinking not [Page 529] yet crystallized. We again stressed absolute necessity full consideration be given safeguards and guarantees involved in any possible consideration cease-fire.
Communist tactics Geneva. We gave copies item E 627 as amended to French and UK and expressed wish compare notes on anticipated Soviet tactics Geneva. French stressed necessity preparing counter arguments to possible Communist proposal withdraw all foreign troops IC and hold free elections AS. We all agreed that we must not only be prepared counter anticipated Sino-Soviet arguments but must also have positive approach ourselves and hold initiative as much as possible.
  1. Ante, p. 517.
  2. Minutes of meeting transmitted to the Department in despatch 2672 from Paris, Apr. 22, not printed. (396.1 GE/4–2254)
  3. See telegram 4002 from Paris, Apr. 21, p. 542. The minutes of the meeting (despatch 2672, Apr. 22) indicated that the next meeting would be held on Wednesday, Apr. 21.
  4. For documentation on the Soviet note and the tripartite reply, see pp. 70 ff.
  5. Telegram 3922 from Paris, Apr. 16, supra.
  6. See telegram 3240 from Paris. Mar. 6, p. 435.
  7. Conference position paper GKI D–4/1, “Probable Soviet and Chinese Communist Objectives and Tactics at Geneva With Special Reference to Indochina,” Apr. 9, 1954, not printed. (FE files, lot 60 D 330, “Position Papers”)