396.1 GE/5–854: Telegram

First Plenary Session on Indochina, Geneva, May 8, 4:35 p.m.: The United States Delegation to the Department of State1


Secto 154. Repeated information Paris priority 227, Saigon priority 46, London 141, Tokyo 36, Moscow 56, Phnom Penh, Vientiane unnumbered. Tokyo pass CINCFE. Department pass Defense. First session Indochina phase held 4:30–7:45 p.m. today. Following opening speech by Bidault at conclusion which he tabled proposal contained Secto 143, repeated Paris 222, Saigon 41, Moscow 54, London 139, Tokyo 34,2 (minor modifications contained Secto 152, repeated Paris 225, Saigon 44, Moscow 55, London 140, Tokyo 353). Viet Minh immediately proposed invitation Pathet Lao and Khmer Issarak. Remainder of meeting devoted sharp procedural wrangle this point. I rejected invitations to these nonexistent governments and also noted improper invitation conveyed to Viet Minh in name Communist China as well as USSR (text my statement contained Secto 153, repeated [Page 735] Paris 226, Saigon 45, London 138, Moscow 53, Tokyo 334). Next meeting tentatively scheduled Monday 3:00 p.m.

Eden opened session announcing chairmanship arrangements (he and Molotov alternating), official languages (English, French, Russian, Chinese). Bidault gave effective presentation French position in which he attacked Communists bitterly, particularly over failure grant evacuation wounded Dien Bien Phu. He stressed particularly independence already granted Associated States and fraudulent nature Viet Minh allegations of fighting for freedom Indochina. He then gave general outline French reasoning on what was required in Indochina and concluded by tabling proposal.

Viet Minh Vice President Pham Van Dong followed, (he spoke in Vietnamese) and devoted virtually entire speech plea for invitations to Pathet Lao and Khmer Issarak along strictly Communist lines (they represent struggle of those peoples for independence from foreign imperialism, etc.). He ended with formal motion invite these two.

I then made statement contained Secto 153 following which Chou En-lai immediately spoke holding conference had right discuss its own composition and calling for adoption Viet Minh motion. Molotov followed with harangue dedicated both Viet Minh proposal and my remarks re inviting powers. On former he alleged these regimes controlled much of territory of two countries and were leading war of national liberation. He spent most of time inviting powers problem, reading paragraph from Berlin communiqué re Indochina. He interpreted this meant one of five “named powers” had any special status, and accordingly said it was perfectly proper for Communist China join with Soviets in inviting Viet Minh. He concluded saying all of nine powers present today had right propose additional states, and he thus hoped Viet Minh proposal to extend two more invitations would be accepted. In closing he referred to my suggestion that 4 Berlin powers meet to settle question and countered with proposal additional invitations be considered by five powers named Berlin communiqué.

Bidault and Eden supported US position. Bidault appealed to conference to avoid sterile procedural arguments while Eden characterized Viet Minh proposal as something quite new which four Berlin powers should discuss.

Cambodian delegate (Sam Sary) asked for floor saying he had not intended speak so soon but felt he must reject Viet Minh proposal. In effective rebuttal he said Cambodia at peace until invaded April 3, 1954 so any so-called government must have been created for purpose [Page 736] of Geneva conference. He stressed complete control Royal Cambodian Government except for minor shifting pockets of invaders. He said remaining dissidents were mostly foreign invaders and asking them represent Cambodia was like asking Pole to represent Soviet Union. Finally he pointed out “Khmer Issarak” were nationalist rebels who rallied to King, and people using that name now were foreign Communist invaders.

Chou En-lai intervened again calling for acceptance Soviet proposal for five-power talks on Viet Minh proposal. Viet Minh followed with additional peroration denying Pathet Lao and Khmer Issarak were ghosts and calling also for acceptance Soviet proposal for five-power talks on invitation problem.

Eden noted he had two mutually irreconcilable proposals before him, US for four-power and Soviet for five-power talks. Accordingly he proposed simple adjournment, although Laotian had previously asked for recognition. Laotian (Phoui Sananikone) insisted on recognition and spoke on nonexistence Pathet Lao which dissolved itself in October 1949. He noted its “chief” was discredited member Royal family who had joined Viet Minh and to invite his regime would be to admit any dissident individual or group anywhere could claim recognition as a government.

  1. A set of minutes of this meeting (US Verb Min/1) is in Conference files, lot 60 D 627, CF 276. The minutes indicate that the meeting convened at 4:35 p.m. and adjourned at 7:40 p.m. The minutes are also printed in Conférence de Genève, pp. 13–30. The speeches of Bidault, Pham Van Dong, Smith, Molotov, Sam Sary, and Phoui Sananikone are printed in Cmd. 9186, pp. 107–116. The proposal made by the French Delegation during the meeting, Indochina Document IC/1, May 8, is in Conference files, lot 60 D 627, CF 279A.
  2. Dated May 8, p. 730.
  3. Dated May 8, not printed; for text of modifications, see footnote 1, ibid.
  4. Infra.