396.1 GE/5–2554

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


There was a meeting of the Six this morning.

Ambassador Chauvel suggested that the program for this afternoon should be continued discussion of the seven questions on which Bidault and Dong gave their views yesterday. He hoped that the discussion could be point by point, making clear however that what was involved was agreement on all seven. We expressed general agreement.
Chauvel made clear that the French would most strongly resist Molotov’s proposal to pass on to political questions at this time. He asked for support from other delegations. We expressed general agreement.
Dennis Allen, on instructions from Eden tabled two proposals (attached)2 dealing with respectively cessation of hostilities and international supervision. Eden’s purpose is to secure on these points agreement on certain principles and on certain immediate action. In this way he hopes to cut ground out from under Molotov by showing real progress being made on military questions and hence no reason to pass on to political problems at this time. All of the other delegations reserved their position on the Allen papers although the possibility of a meeting in Geneva of representatives of the two commands in order to work out regrouping arrangements for Viet-Nam alone seemed generally acceptable.
Allen took position Dong’s proposal yesterday indicated Vietminh acceptance of principle Viet-Nam to be treated separately from Cambodia and Laos. This argument was not convincing to Cambodian and Laotian representatives who continue to insist on both separation and priority for their relatively simple problems.

Attached is a draft statement3 for your use today which covers the first four of the seven French questions: cessation of hostilities, regular troops, irregular troops and the supervisory authority.

[Page 917]

[Attachment 1—Draft]

Talking Paper for May 25 Indochina Session on “Cessation of Hostilities”4

We agreed yesterday that this afternoon we would talk about cessation of hostilities in Vietnam. I believe that we can achieve a cessation of hostilities in Vietnam if agreement can be reached on four points:
Withdrawal of Vietminh forces from Laos and Cambodia.
Withdrawal into specified areas of regular forces in Vietnam.
Disarmament and disbanding of irregular forces.
Establishment of adequate safeguards and creation of an international supervisory commission whose composition and terms of reference would permit it to function effectively.
On the first point I will merely repeat again what has been said so many times. Hostilities in Laos and Cambodia can be stopped by arranging for the withdrawal from those two countries of the invading Vietminh forces. I hope this arrangement can be made immediately.
On the second point Mr. Bidault has made a proposal for assembling all regular units in assembly areas. If such a regrouping were based on the assumption that this is a preliminary step to provide for the unification of all Vietnam under its recognized government, I would support Mr. Bidault’s proposal. If on the other hand, these concentrations, in our judgment, appeared to be a preliminary to the partition of Vietnam, the United States could not associate itself with such a proposal. I will thus have to examine specific proposals which may be advanced before my delegation can take a definitive position on this question.
With reference to the third point the United States believes that agreements for the cessation of hostilities should include provisions for the disarmament of all irregular forces. From the statements made yesterday it appears that there is a general consensus on this point.

Finally it seems to us of the utmost importance that there should be effective safeguards to provide for the security of armed forces and the civil populations and to ensure against abuses of the ceasefire by either party. The United States maintains these safeguards must be exercised under competent international supervision and that the competent authority is the United Nations. To be effective it seems [Page 918] clear to me that adequate UN control machinery must be in place and ready to function before there is an actual cease-fire.

If progress here indicates that an effective agreement for the cessation of hostilities may be realizable in the near future, we should take up with corresponding urgency the establishment of adequate control machinery.

Representatives of the control commission must have guarantees of unrestricted movement in and free access to all parts of the area in which peace is restored. Such a commission would also have to have sufficient personnel and logistic support to be able to discharge its responsibilities.

If we could reach agreement here on the four points I have outlined it would be possible to put an end to the fighting in Indochina.

[Attachment 2]

British Proposal Made at Meeting of Six Delegations May 25 But Not Accepted by Other Delegations

cessation of hostilities

A. Agreed Principles.

To take place simultaneously throughout all three States as soon as the necessary military agreements are concluded.
To be effective for all armed forces of both sides.
To take effect by means of:
immediate standstill of all forces;
immediate subsequent regrouping of forces into areas determined by prior agreement; and
unhindered passage for the purposes of (b) of forces of one party through areas allotted to the other.

B. Immediate Action.

The areas in 3(b) above to be worked out for Vietnam.
Representatives of the two commands to meet in Geneva for this purpose.
These representatives to report their findings and recommendations to the Conference as soon as possible.
The Conference meanwhile to proceed with examination of other military matters, beginning with arrangements for international supervision.
[Page 919]

[Attachment 3]

British Proposal Made at Meeting of Six Delegations May 25 But Not Accepted by Other Delegations


A. General Principles

Commissions shall be set up in each of the three States.
These shall be composed of representatives of neutral countries not members of the present Conference to be chosen by agreement at the Conference.
In Vietnam mixed groups consisting of representatives of the two Commands shall also be set up to function under the authority of the Neutral Commission.

B. Immediate Action

Representatives of the two Commands, meeting in Geneva, to prepare plans for the constitution and operation of the proposed mixed groups in Vietnam.
The Conference to examine the constitution and membership of the proposed Neutral Commissions.
  1. Drafted by Bonsal.
  2. Attachments 2 and 3 below.
  3. Attachment 1 below.
  4. Dated May 25. Drafted by Stelle.