Memorandum of Conversation, by the Special Adviser to the United States Delegation (Heath)
- Buu Kinh, Vietnamese Delegation
- Donald R. Heath, Ambassador to Vietnam and Cambodia.
Buu Kinh called by appointment to say that the Vietnamese Delegation was somewhat worried over the developments of the last restricted session. They had understood that the French Delegation and the British and American Delegations as well, would insist on a separate treatment for Laos and Cambodia on the one hand and Vietnam on the other. However, the French and British Delegations had apparently swung around to Molotov’s program of discussing general principles adaptable to all three states. This was not the Vietnamese position nor that of Cambodia and Laos, and they thought it a potentially dangerous procedure to adopt. He was particularly worried over the very first proposal advanced by Molotov and the cease-fire must be simultaneous in the three countries. The Vietnamese position was that peace might be obtained more quickly in Cambodia and Laos in which case cease-fire should not be held up there while awaiting conclusion of armistice arrangements with Vietnam which might take a long time and indeed might never occur except on terms which would pave the way for a Communist takeover.[Page 891]
On the other hand, Vietnam did not want at this stage to be too vociferous and intransigent in opposing such commitment proposals as were accepted by the French since it did not wish to embarrass the position of the French Delegation and the French Government. Vietnam had a great deal of confidence in Bidault and hoped that his position, policy and support by French parliamentary opinion could be strengthened during the week or so.
I said I was thoroughly inclined to believe that we should not accept without reservations the proposition that the cease-fire should be simultaneous in the three countries but I had not yet discussed the matter with the head of our delegation. I observed he must have noted that we in effect had not only asked separate treatment for those countries but even priority of settlement because of the simplicity of their problems. I added we had very great confidence in Mr. Bidault but realized the latter’s position was presently difficult and that, therefore, we all should at this stage try to co-ordinate our action with that of the French.
I said it was my understanding that Mr. Bidault, in accepting the Russian proposal to discuss fundamental points had made a distinct reservation as to the necessity of separate treatment of the Cambodian and Laotian situations.
I then went on to say that as he doubtless knew, we were actively exploring various possibilities of strengthening the military and political assets of France and the Associated States in the Indochina conflict and we felt that progress is being made. We were, for example, actively promoting the formation of the Southeast Asia Mutual Defense Pact.
I then inquired as to rumors of contacts between the Vietnamese and Vietminh Delegations. Buu Kinh, with air appearance of candor said that no contacts, to his knowledge, had occurred and he doubted any would or could occur because of the close supervision over the Vietminh Delegation exercised by its own and Soviet and Chinese security agents. He said that Phan Anh as long ago as 1946 at the Fontainebleau conference had told his friend Dinh, now head of the Vietnamese Delegation here, that he had made a mistake in going over to Ho Chi Minh since the latter by then had revealed himself as a Communist. Anh had said then, however, that he was “embarked” and could not change his course. He had advised Dinh to steer Vietnamese nationalists towards association with the United States.