396.1 GE/5–1254: Telegram

SmithBidaultEden Meeting, Geneva, May 12, Noon: The United States Delegation to the Department of State


Secto 183. Repeated information Paris 244, Saigon 59, London 152. At Eden’s urgent request we met with him and Bidault this noon to discuss tactics on Indochina. If French and we agreed, he proposed [Page 777] to raise following questions1 this afternoon after Cambodians and Vietnamese had spoken:

Is it agreed that first start is to get fighting stopped in orderly manner? It is assumed that arrangements dealing with wounded are in hand at Dien Bien Phu. If there is agreement on above question, following other questions require urgent answer:

Is it agreed that all troops on both sides shall be concentrated in determined area?
Is it accepted that Laos and Cambodia are in special category and that Viet Minh forces will be withdrawn from them?
Who is to work out areas of concentration for Vietnam? Is it to be commanders-in-chief?
Is it agreed that when all troops have been concentrated into determined areas, any irregulars shall be disarmed?
Are we in favor of international supervision? If so, in what form? UK would prefer UN. UN does not necessarily mean combatants or any of those here represented. There could be an agreed panel of countries.

There was agreement that his raising these questions presented no difficulty with French or ourselves. Bidault did not wish himself to question Viet Minh directly but felt Eden’s questions and Communist answers would help him later to analyze Viet Minh proposals. On international supervision, Smith felt we should stick on principle that it be UN and that collectively we would have enough influence to insure acceptable composition. Eden felt composition in Korea had been mistake since two Communist nations blocked everything. He suggested four not from either side, such as Swedes, Swiss, Latin American and Asian, probably Indian. Smith said Indian soldier, such as General Thimmaya might be acceptable but Indian politician would be wholly unacceptable. Bidault also objected to any Indian but felt Thimmaya might be acceptable. Eden pushed hard for India as great power of Asia or at least one great power in Asia and held its policy gradually moving our way. It was nevertheless agreed that we should not at this time go beyond principle of UN supervision and fight out battle of composition later.

Eden asked whether we should continue regular meetings on Indochina or go into restricted sessions. Bidault felt restricted sessions might be agreeable later but felt principles should be further clarified in general meetings. Smith agreed.

  1. In telegram Secto 185, May 12, the U.S. Delegation reported Bidault stated that Eden’s questions may have saved the Laniel government. Bidault indicated that the threat of dissolution would have considerable effect on former Gaullists. He said he was also holding in reserve his own threat of resignation which, carrying 100 MRP votes with it, he believed would be effective in avoiding undesirable instructions. (396.1 GE/5–1254)