Conference files, lot 60 D 627, CF 288

Memorandum of Conversation1



  • Prince Wan, Thailand Foreign Minister
  • Ambassador Pote Sarasin
  • Secretary Dulles
  • Walter Robertson
  • U. Alexis Johnson

Place: Geneva

Prince Wan asked to see the Secretary today following the Conference session.2 He opened the conversation by expressing appreciation of the Secretary’s nomination of him as one of the three rotating Presidents of the Conference. The Secretary replied that Prince Wan well knew the esteem with which he is regarded by the United States, and that the Secretary hoped it would in some very small measure make up for our inability to support Prince Wan for the Presidency of the last General Assembly.

Prince Wan referred to the prompt Thai response to the united front concept in S.E. Asia, and the Secretary expressed great appreciation of the U.S. therefor. The Secretary stated that the matter is not moving as rapidly as we had hoped because the UK was inclined to wait until it sees what happens at Geneva with respect to Indochina. France is also confronted with a very difficult situation and their Cabinet is so badly divided on this issue that there is virtually no government.

In reply to the Secretary’s query as to whether Prince Wan had any information with regard to consultations in Washington with the Thai government, Prince Wan replied in the negative. The Secretary stated he thought things would develop much more rapidly after his return to Washington, which would probably be on Sunday;3 that immediately upon his arrival he would consult with Congressional leaders and in general be in a better position to carry forward the concept.

Prince Wan stated that Thailand wondered whether it would not be possible to concert at least on military plans in the area, mentioning that at present Thailand has its own defense plans and the British had their plans in Malaya, but there was no coordination. He stated [Page 597] that Thailand stood ready to conclude a pact because of public opinion in Thailand and the “many lawyers in Parliament”. He felt it would be desirable to have a more formal arrangement.

In reply the Secretary pointed out that the drawing up of a formal defense pact was very time consuming. He stated that in the conversations in London, leading up to the communiqué by Mr. Eden and himself, there had been very considerable discussion of the phrase in the communiqué now reading “consider the creation of a common defense”; the word “assistance” having been deliberately left out. The situation which had to be faced in the area was such that it would probably not permit the time–consuming procedures for drawing up and ratifying a pact.

Upon Prince Wan’s expressing the opinion that consultations should be undertaken, the Secretary inquired whether there was anyone in the Thai Embassy in Washington with whom at least the quasi military aspects of the situation could be discussed, agreeing that talks should start quickly. Ambassador Sarasin replied that the Chargé in Washington was available for consultations, and that on the military level, the military attachés were also available.

Prince Wan stated that in reply to press inquiries he had answered he did not believe that proceeding with the united front concept would in any way prejudice the Geneva Conference. The Secretary stated that he fully agreed and expressed appreciation for Prince Wan’s having taken this stand. The Secretary stated that he would immediately telegraph Washington in regard to the undertaking of consultations there with Thai representatives.

In reply to Prince Wan’s question as to whether France would keep on in Indochina, the Secretary pointed out that it is one thing to talk about quitting, but another thing actually to quit. If faced with responsibility, the present leaders in France who are urging withdrawal from Indochina would probably find that it is not easy to do so. If such persons came into power and found that the situation would in fact not permit a withdrawal, the people of France would probably be more inclined to accept the fact than they are at present. The Secretary stated that he was inclined to think that there would be no hasty French retreat from Indochina; however, if there was a change of government, it might well attempt to obtain a cease fire with no conditions, which he compared to entering into an agreement with a burglar in your house not to shoot.

In reply to Prince Wan’s inquiries regarding the Indochinese phase of the Conference, the Secretary stated that no agreement had yet been reached on the composition of the Conference. He explained the French attitude toward participation of Ho Chi Minh; their attempt [Page 598] to find some status for him other than a full participant in the Conference. However, the Soviets have refused a second–class membership for Ho. At the moment Bidault is trying to get in touch with Bao Dai. Bidault is also anxious to get agreement regarding evacuating the wounded from Dien Bien Phu. Molotov has told him that no such agreement can be reached until the question of composition of the Indochina phase of the Conference is decided.

  1. Copy of this memorandum of conversation in CF 264 indicates that it was drafted by U. Alexis Johnson. Summary of the conversation was transmitted to the Department of State in telegram Secto 31, Apr. 28. (396.1 GE/4–2954)
  2. Reference to the Korean phase of the Geneva Conference which began on Apr. 26.
  3. May 2.