396.1 GE/5–1954: Telegram

Third Restricted Session on Indochina, Geneva, May 19, 3 p.m.: The United States Delegation to the Department of State 1


Secto 259. Rptd info Paris 299, London 188, Saigon 93, Tokyo 75, Moscow 78. Dept pass Defense; Tokyo pass CINCFE. Re Secto 251 repeated Paris 294 London 184 Saigon 90 Tokyo 71 Moscow 76.2 Restricted Indochina meeting May 19.

Eden in chair, US del first speaker. Referred to incorrect use by Molotov of Secretary’s May 7 statement3 pointing out that while Secretary drew distinction between sovereignty and independence of three Indochina states we do distinguish between these three sovereign states and so-called resistance governments Pathet Lao and Khmer and we also note difference in extent and source of aggression affecting three states themselves. US del described briefly fictitious character so-called resistance governments in both Khmer and Pathet Lao stating that in case of latter large numbers regular and irregular Viet Minh troops followed by Viet Minh political cadres have invaded country. US del pointed out that Viet Minh radio itself broadcast instructions for conduct Viet Minh “volunteers” in Laos during first invasion year ago. US del concluded with urgent appeal early consideration of proposal advanced by Laos, Cambodia and France, i.e., withdrawal Viet Minh troops from Laos and Cambodia.

Bidault then spoke briefly with regard Molotov’s remarks yesterday denying Molotov’s interpretation of Berlin communiqué.4 He stated [Page 855] war in Vietnam has recently overflowed into Laos and Cambodia as result invasion of those countries by foreign forces. Said latter two countries should be dealt with separately because simpler and can be handled more rapidly. Bidault stressed French not proposing priority for Laos and Cambodia over Vietnam but rather separate parallel and simultaneous procedures with Laos and Cambodia situation entrusted to subcommittee of conference. Viet Minh representative then made lengthy florid propaganda statement more suitable to plenary than to work session. He traced alleged national liberation movements in both countries from earliest days of French conquest last century. He then described condition surrounding “second French conquest” after 1954. He stated that in Cambodia resistance government controls large area not only along Vietnam border but in other parts of country and that same situation prevails Pathet Lao.

DRV del attempted to demonstrate undemocratic and fraudulent nature Cambodian and Laotian constitutions and elections. He referred to Franco-Laotian treaty of independence quoting obligation of Kingdom of Laos to join its resources with those of members of French Union for defense purposes, emphasizing coordinating function of French Government as proof hollow nature independence granted by France.

DRV del claimed that reality national liberation movements of three countries IC is why French authorities with expeditionary corps and so-called national armies amounting to over ½ million men had been unable conquer these movements. He attacked so-called national governments as former servants of French colonialism now in fact serving same interests and US interventionists after having collaborated with Japanese Fascism.

DRV del concluded problems of Vietnam, Pathet Lao and Khmer cannot be disassociated. DRV then proposed discussion proceed on basis point 8, and particularly point 8A, Viet Minh proposals5 and points 1 and 5 French proposals.6 (Point 8 Viet Minh proposals refers complete and simultaneous cease-fire throughout Indochina and points 1 and 5 French proposals are included in French section dealing only with Vietnam.)

Following the recess first Cambodian and Laotian dels in turn refuted convincingly and in detail the assertion of Dong. Both insisted on independent and national character of their governments and on the synthetic nature of so-called liberation governments. Both stressed [Page 856] point that all that was required to re-establish peace in Cambodia and Laos was the withdrawal of the foreign Viet Minh invader.

Chou En-lai then spoke in support of Viet Minh. He agreed that there were three separate nations and three states but in all three a colonial war was raging caused by same source. It must be stopped throughout the three countries as asked for by Berlin communiqué. He could not agree with French del that decision to treat two separately would aid progress of conference. He tried to prove existence and importance of national liberation movements in each of three countries and concluded with assertion that if peace was to be restored in Indochina, it would have to be by simultaneous cease-fire throughout whole area.

Eden suggested no meeting tomorrow to see if private contacts could contribute to overcoming difficulty blocking progress.

Molotov said he was not asking decision but wished to express desire of Soviet del at next meeting to conduct point by point discussion of military aspects French and Viet Minh drafts.

Eden closed meeting with statement that all agreed there was no agreement what would be done at next meeting, Friday May 21.

Comment: Meeting made no progress whatever. Communists showed no signs of any willingness compromise. Viet Minh and Chinese Communist statements were propaganda harangues rather than type of discussion expected in restricted session. Communists appear confident and in no hurry get down to business. Difficult assess significance Dong’s suggestion (supported by Molotov) to consider jointly military portion Viet Minh proposal (which is applicable whole area) and that portion French proposal dealing only with Vietnam and appeal this may have for French. End comment.

  1. A set of minutes of this session (IC Restricted/3) is in Conference files, lot 60 D 627, CF 278. The minutes indicate that the meeting convened at 3 p.m. and adjourned at 6:30 p.m. The minutes are also printed in Conférence de Genève, pp. 113–121.
  2. Dated May 18, p. 839.
  3. Reference to Secretary Dulles’ address of May 7, p. 720.
  4. Made during the Second Restricted Session; see telegram Secto 251, May 18, p. 839.
  5. Contained in telegram Secto 162, May 10, p. 753.
  6. Contained in telegram Secto 143, May 8, p. 730.