396.1 GE/5–1954: Telegram

SmithEdenBidault Meeting, Geneva, May 19, Morning: The United States Delegation to the Department of State

secret

Secto 253. Repeated information Paris 296, London 185, Saigon 91. Discussed tactics for next few days with Bidault and Eden this morning. Since it appears undesirable to risk Korean plenary before Saturday1 at earliest and since today’s restricted Indochina meeting should exhaust discussion on separation Laos and Cambodia, I proposed plenary on Indochina tomorrow in order that six could make public [Page 850]their position on separation. Eden would have preferred plenary on Korea tomorrow to hear Molotov and Pearson, who would like to speak before returning to Ottawa Friday,2 but I explained we at long last may be near agreement on proposal by sixteen and that I could not accept responsibility should premature Korean plenary spoil this. Bidault referred to Molotov’s apparent desire to stay off Indochina for 24 hours and felt that French opinion would require him to see whether this produced any more favorable Soviet attitude, although he personally was not optimistic. Case for separation of Laotian and Cambodian questions was sound logically but had little popular appeal. From his point of view tomorrow would be too soon to make public position of six. French opinion would feel inadequate effort had been made in restricted sessions before resorting to invective and would believe conference already failing. For this impression to be given so soon might well bring down French Government.

He proposed that today’s meeting be held as scheduled, that there be no meeting tomorrow on either subject, that on Friday there be another restricted meeting on Indochina and that if Friday’s meeting produced no progress, he would be ready for plenary on Indochina at any time. This was agreed and Eden subsequently obtained Molotov’s concurrence.

It was expected that today’s meeting would largely repeat yesterday’s discussion, with Bidault expecting to say that while France insisted on separate consideration of Laos and Cambodia, it did not insist such discussion precede discussion on Vietnam. It would be necessary to see outcome of today’s meeting before planning tactics for Friday.

I proposed that at some early date the six should make public an agreed statement on separation of Laos and Cambodia. Eden was unenthusiastic. Bidault felt statement should not be made until we had made further efforts in restricted session and that statement should not be limited solely to Laos and Cambodia., He thought early next week would be soon enough.

Incidentally he and Eden are scheduled to be in Paris on Saturday for celebration of entente cordiale but do not know yet whether they will go.

I raised question of Thai appeal,3 mentioning desirability of having observation commission proceed first to Thailand and then Laos and Cambodia. Eden agreed it would be useful to have such commission there at least for fact-finding but wondered about juridical basis and [Page 851]timing. Bidault was bothered by length of time necessary to go through Security Council procedure to Assembly decision and possibility of Assembly speeches touching Morocco, et cetera. He hoped quicker and simpler procedure could be found and Chauvel was confident it could be done. He has asked UN Section Quai d’Orsay to suggest procedure and expects to have it during day. Eden again said he would need London’s decision on political question of this magnitude. He agrees appointment of commission would be useful but fears its effect on course of conference here and public repercussions in Britain.

Smith
  1. May 22.
  2. May21.
  3. For status of the Thai appeal, see telegram Tosec 203, May 19, infra .