Conference files, lot 60 D 627, CF 285

Memorandum by the Special Adviser to the United States Delegation ( Heath ) to the Head of the Delegation ( Smith )1



  • Restricted meeting on Indochina to be held Monday, May 17th.

After discussion of such details as the room, provision of interpreters, number of experts (3) and etc., following tentative procedure was agreed to at a tripartite meeting called this afternoon by Ambassador Chauvel:

Eden as chairman will call on Bidault to discuss the question of the wounded at Dien Bien Phu. Bidault will rehearse his own letter to Molotov and Molotov’s reply and will then ask the Vietminh Delegation for their views on how to proceed to expedite this matter. (Bidault is favorably impressed by the Molotov letter which strikes him as favorable in substance, i.e., no discrimination between French and Vietnamese and generally conciliatory and courteous in tone.) Bidault may also ask whether there is any news about the nurse, the only French woman in the Dien Bien Phu garrison.
Eden will then bring up the matter of his five questions2 and will ask Bidault if he has any further comment he would like to make.
Bidault will then ask if there is agreement on the separation of the problems of Laos and Cambodia from the problem of Viet-Nam. If agreement on this principle can be obtained, Bidault will suggest the appointment of separate working committees containing representatives of all nine delegations to endeavor to give form and content to practical solutions for Laos and Cambodia respectively. Perhaps the [Page 814] first task of these committees will be to agree on their terms of reference and to submit those terms to the Conference for approval.
After the question of Laos and Cambodia has been disposed of, Bidault would endeavor to secure agreement on the principle that the cessation of hostilities with appropriate controls and guarantees need not wait upon the reaching of political agreements. This is a problem upon which agreement will be most difficult not only with the other side but also with our own side. The Vietnamese are strongly opposed to any agreement for cessation of hostilities which is not simultaneous with a political agreement recognizing their own status as the sole legal government of Viet-Nam.

  1. Drafted by Bonsal.
  2. Contained in telegram Secto 183, May 12, p. 776.