396.1 GE/5–1554: Telegram
The United States Delegation to the Department of State
Secto 225. Repeated information Paris 275, Saigon 81, London 167, Moscow 72, Phnom Penh and Vientiane unnumbered. Department pass Defense. Following are comments Molotov and Bidault speeches fourth Indochina plenary yesterday:
Molotov gave four-point program which he said was summary Viet Minh proposal. Comparison shows USSR four points (with one additional sentence which Molotov added) cover in briefer form first seven points Viet Minh proposal, as well as most of Viet Minh point eight (which provided for cessation hostilities as condition precedent for other seven and which vaguely outlined controls for cease-fire). Soviets do not repeat Viet Minh reference to “settlement of territories and of areas occupied” given in second sentence point eight Viet Minh plan, which presumably covers regrouping concept also found in French plan.
Supplement to Viet Minh proposal importance of which Molotov stressed was in fact, substitution for Viet Minh plan for mixed commissions comprising belligerents only (paragraph eight C). USSR proposed “setting up of a neutral nations supervisory commission shall be provided for in the agreement”.
Portion Molotov speech covering various proposals already submitted and Soviet comments thereon was characterized by ostensibly conciliatory approach. He did not refer to Vietnamese plan (Secto 1931) at all, but stated drawback of French proposal was it did not deal with political problem which was inseparable from military stressing impossibility any purely military settlement. French, of course, had indicated Vietnamese should take lead on proposing political settlements, but Vietnamese recommendations would doubtless be completely unacceptable to Soviets. He said no cessation hostilities should be just “shrewdly-arranged respite”. On guarantees question, Molotov agreed idea nine States participating conference would be guarantors, but rejected French concept individual guarantees and spoke only of “collective measures” to implement guarantees. He expressed hope other delegations would also comment on French plan which he said was “an important proposal”. Thus Soviets gave some appearance conciliatory approach to French plan.
Molotov also said Soviet delegation would reply to Eden’s five points at later date.
Bidault’s speech was point-by-point refutation Viet Minh proposal. He first isolated problems Laos and Cambodia and then refuted in detail Viet Minh proposals as applied to Vietnam (Secto 2122). For first time in plenary session, Bidault indicating French willingness withdraw troops from Laos and Cambodia under certain conditions.
Bidault statement did not disavow any of points previously made in French proposal submitted first plenary session. He did stress political settlement should follow military arrangement and that discussion former should not delay latter. This may cause some difficulties with Vietnamese who, of course, emphasize inter-relationship two problems. Bidault did admit tie existed between two, but said political settlement would be consequence, not precondition of military settlement.
In replying to Eden questions, on point number five, Bidault reiterated France had originally proposed international controls and said France “was prepared to examine all proposals which might be made concerning the composition of commissions and the methods of control”. He added, if principle international control accepted, appropriate mixed groups could be established by common agreement and operating under international authority. This is slight though probably not significant modification French position as tabled first plenary session.
In general, Bidault gave impression that although talking to Viet Minh proposal his objective was refutation and France rejected Viet Minh plan as basis for discussion.