396.1 GE/5–1354: Telegram

The United States Delegation to the Department of State

secret
priority

Secto 199. Repeated information London 160, Paris 256, Saigon 65, Moscow 69. Following Korean Plenary Meeting today Eden raised with Bidault and myself “what we do next” respect to Indochina. He suggested he see Molotov and/or Chou En-lai to tell them they were “playing a dangerous role” in abusing United States and to a lesser extent France at every meeting. Things cannot continue on present basis. Bidault offered no objection as long as it was understood it [Page 793]would not interfere with his plan for full analysis of Viet Minh proposal and comparison with French proposal at plenary tomorrow. I offered no objection and during course of discussion Bidault and I agreed that Eden would first bring matter up with Chou En-lai when Eden calls upon him tomorrow and, as co-chairman, tell Molotov what he has said to Chou En-lai.

Eden stated in addition foregoing he proposes raise with Chou En-lai and Molotov on his own responsibility and ad referendum to our side question of how to handle replies to questions he put in plenary yesterday, making mention possibility discussion in restricted subcommittee meeting which would include all participants Indochina phase or in restricted meeting principal delegates.

During course conversation Bidault stated Molotov believed he could “make France explode” but that he was mistaken. Bidault also expressed hope press conferences Indochina questions be avoided as much as possible as they “make things very difficult for people here”.

I told Eden and Bidault that in my call on Molotov I had expressed the view Indochina question highly inflamatory requiring careful and adroit handling to prevent unhappy results and that Molotov had agreed situation was “complex”.

Before agreeing any restricted meeting1 on replies to Eden’s questions, I intend insist that those on our side get together to concert our views.

Smith
  1. At the close of the Fourth Plenary Session on May 14 Molotov stated that the next meeting, scheduled for Monday, May 17, would be held in restricted session with participants limited to delegation chiefs and three advisers each. See telegram Secto 212, May 14, p. 795.

    Anthony Eden in his memoirs, Full Circle, p. 133, wrote on this matter as follows: “As is usual at international conferences, much of the real work was done in informal talks which took place daily, away from the conference table. The course of the negotiations was frequently influenced, as a rule adversely, by diplomatic events far away from Geneva. It quickly became clear to me that we should make little progress if we continued to discuss Indo-China in plenary sessions, which merely provided a stage for the striking of attitudes by both sides. On May 13, I accordingly suggested to Bedell Smith and Bidault that we should continue our talks in restricted sessions, consisting of the heads of all nine delegations with only two or three advisers apiece. No account of the proceedings would be given to the press. This proposal was agreed upon, and on the following day Molotov and Chou En-lai also accepted it.”