110.11 DU/5–2654: Telegram
Smith–Eden–Chauvel Meeting, Geneva, May 26, Morning: The United States Delegation to the Department of State
Dulte 121. Repeated information Paris 338, Saigon 118, London 211. This morning Eden and Chauvel, in Bidault’s absence, and I discussed tactics for next few days, particularly with respect to Laos and Cambodia and question international control.
Eden wondered at what point we are going to stand on Cambodia and Laos. Their problem was separate but complementary to that in Vietnam and he saw no reason why simultaneous cease-fire was in itself objectionable. He thought an acceptable formula would:
(1) Cease-fire, (2) withdrawal of troops into areas near frontier and (3) withdrawal of all foreign forces within six months. He recognized [Page 932] danger of this was that foreign troops were not now concentrated and that we could have no confidence they would be gotten out of country in absence of effective supervision.
Chauvel said France did not consider the proposal of a simultaneous cease-fire throughout Indochina to be one which we could oppose in principle. Moreover, it was likely to happen anyhow. The identity of regular Viet Minh battalions in Cambodia and Laos has been definitely established, and they are known to be elements of regular Viet Minh divisions. Chauvel believed these forces must be regrouped on Vietnamese territory and not on Laotian or Cambodian territory. French also had heard rumors Communists might be less difficult on Laos and Cambodia than on Vietnam. Cease-fire could be simultaneous in all three but certainly restoration of peace would not.
I agreed with Chauvel’s views but said I would need further instructions. We must assume bad faith on Communist side and must insure that Communists did not profit by armistice period to strengthen and extend their position. It would be difficult to oppose proposal for simultaneous cease-fire but composition and effectiveness of supervisory control was basic problem. Chauvel said Viet Minh had yesterday agreed to give French written copy of their proposal but were still stalling hour by hour and it might be somewhat different when finally received. It would be desirable if West could make counterproposal at next meeting.
On question of controls, Eden said Krishna Menon had indicated India would participate in military supervision of regrouping. Presumably India neither would nor should act alone. Norway and probably Burma might be acceptable and might agree.
I said I had just been talking to Menon and raised question under what authority India would be acting if a participant. Would it be UN or under terms of reference from Geneva conference, perhaps referred to UN? Contingent of Indian army acting under international command was one thing, while Indian contingent acting under direct control of Nehru and Indian Government quite another. (Some influential US opinion would consider latter would mean turnover of Indochina to Communists.) Menon had said India did not rent out its army. I said neither did we but we had on occasion placed ours under international control where interests of world required. Eden did not think Menon would object to UN auspices but doubted Chinese would accept it. Menon had said that the UN might be brought into picture by conference here agreeing on composition of international authority and informally approaching agreed-upon nations to ascertain whether they would be willing to serve. These nations might thereupon reply that they would so serve providing they were asked to do so by UN. [Page 933] This would automatically induce some element of UN supervision. Chauvel said French had no definite views and asked whether group of India, Norway and Burma would be agreeable to us. I said we had strong views on what should be established for fully effective supervision and that suggested grouping would not be fully satisfactory to us but might be best we could get. There was some advantage in making Asians police their own back yard. Also somebody would have to provide a considerable military force.
Chauvel asked whether some continuing agency set up by this conference could provide suitable auspices. I said that would be dangerous in diluting and confusing authority of UN. Chauvel suggested we give Communists burden of making first proposal. Eden felt when conference adjourned it would probably have to leave some ad hoc body in existence anyway. I stated that Menon seemed to want some connection with UN and seemed to be searching for formula “such as under general UN guidance.”
It was agreed that tripartite working group would meet this afternoon on problems of troop withdrawal from Laos and Cambodia and international control, including alternatives as to composition, and that we would meet again tomorrow morning. It was also agreed Lodge, Hoppenot and Dixon would be asked to work together in New York on devising quickest and most effective UN procedures for handling Thailand appeal.
I objected strongly to continuing leaks on restricted sessions and recalled Molotov had said we might as well be in open sessions. French maintained embarrassed silence. Eden wished to think it over. We have got to do something about present disorderly and distorted leakage.