396.1 GE/5–1054: Telegram

Second Plenary Session on Indochina, Geneva, May 10, 8 p.m.: The United States Delegation to the Department of State1


Secto 163. Repeated information Paris niact 235, Saigon 54, London 147, Tokyo 41, Moscow niact 59, Phnom Penh, Vientiane unnumbered. Tokyo for CINCFE. Department pass Defense. Second plenary session Indochina phase opened 3 p.m. today with Molotov in chair. Following offer release Dien Bien Phu wounded (Secto 1642), Viet Minh launched two-hour long Communist-line recital Indochina events leading to present situation. Theme was standard Viet Minh invective against French colonialists and American interventionists, but made frequent reference desire establish friendly relations with France, “on basis equality and mutual interests”.

Presuming to speak for Pathet Lao and Khmer, gave account of events Laos and Cambodia and eventually associated them with proposals at end of speech.

US intervention first noted 1947 with reference American diplomat visiting Bao Dai in Hong Kong and France and recommending American assistance. Intensive US intervention beginning 1950 scored in vicious attack. Accused US of using French as tool with intention of later ousting them and using Indochina as a base for conquest Southeast Asia.

[Page 750]

Claimed Viet Minh victories, success of peace movement in France, and prospects peace opened by Geneva Conference caused anxious Americans plan common action. Ridiculed idea Indochinese peoples could be threat to security to US. Concluded US interventionists and French war advocates principal obstacles peace in Indochina. After expressing readiness Viet Minh delegation unite its efforts with other delegations proposals (Secto 1623) were tabled. Ended with accusation that French proposal submitted first session could not be taken seriously since it did not take account facts of situation, including military developments, and disregarded political matters.

Cambodian delegate then took floor beginning with denial Viet Minh claim to assist Cambodians in relieving themselves of French yoke. Pointing out that real Khmer Issaraks were patriots who rallied to Royal Government once independence acquired, he claimed that actually none exist at present. Listed atrocities and invasion by Viet Minh and mentioned official complaint to United Nations. He pointed out difference situation in Cambodia and Laos from Vietnam; latter had both political and military problems while Cambodia and Laos only military. Ended with submission four-point proposal:

Evacuation from Cambodia all regular and irregular Viet Minh;
Disarmament of elements not in army or police;
Liberation or exchange prisoners of war and civil internees;
Control of first three measures by international commissions chosen by conference if possible from states not party to war.

Lao delegate followed with account developments democratic institutions his country since Second World War. Progress interrupted by Viet Minh invasions. Placed special emphasis on Viet Minh taking Lao children out of country to be educated as future Communist leaders. His proposal consisted of:

Withdrawal Viet Minh forces;
Prisoners of war to be returned;
Civilians to be repatriated;
Control by observers appointed by conference.

UK next with Eden making gracious gesture US. Said picture painted of US by Viet Minh could not be recognized by those who knew country and people. US strength used for independence and welfare all people; no one in world has been enslaved by US. Followed with short statement of support for French proposal and advocated study and elaboration of its provisions.

[Page 751]

My Statement (Secto 1614) ended general debate but was followed by further exchange on Dien Bien Phu wounded. Session adjourned without date for next meeting. (Korea plenary tomorrow).

  1. A set of minutes of this meeting (US Verb Min/2) is in Conference files, lot 60 D 627, CF 276. The minutes indicate that the meeting convened at 3 p.m. and adjourned at 6:40 p.m. The minutes are also printed in Conférence de Genève, pp. 31–57. The speeches of Pham Van Dong, Phoui Sananikone, and Eden, and the proposals made by Vietnamese and Cambodian Delegations are printed in Cmd. 9186, pp. 116–123. The proposals made by Vietnam and Cambodia, Indochina Documents IC/4 and IC/5, May 10, are in Conference files, lot 60 D 627, CF 279A.
  2. Dated May 10, p. 757.
  3. Dated May 10, p. 753.
  4. Infra.