396.1 GE/5–2754: Telegram

Seventh Restricted Session on Indochina, Geneva, May 27, 3 p.m.: The United States Delegation to the Department of State 1


Secto 325. Repeated information priority Paris 343, priority Saigon 120, Tokyo 93, London 213, Moscow 89, Phnom Penh and Vientiane unnumbered. Department pass Defense. Tokyo pass CINCFE. Seventh restricted meeting met May 27 with Eden as chairman.

Eden recalled his proposal last meeting and Molotov amendments and then referred new French proposal (see Secto 3272) asked Bidault to comment thereon.

Bidault commented on number of proposals before meeting and desirability concentrating attention on arranging meeting of representatives of commands in Geneva for purpose establishing regroupingzones in Vietnam. He pointed out eight out of nine delegations had agreed in principle and ninth had not expressed opposition to this concept. In tabling proposal dealing with Vietnam he stated French delegation would present in very near future proposals re Laos and Cambodia. He supported principle of simultaneous cease-fire provided this did not result in delaying cessation of hostilities in any given territory. He expressed view conditions in each of three states should be taken up on merits.

In commenting on proposal Bidault said principle of regrouping zones in Vietnam seems generally agreed as well as idea that representatives of commands meet in Geneva. There would also be required exchange of views with commands in field. Bidault urged haste stating time saved Geneva saves blood Indochina and time wasted Geneva wastes blood there.

Bidault suggested June first as date for meeting of representatives of commands in Geneva and asked delegates express themselves re date.

Chou En-lai then presented six-point proposal (see Secto 3263) on basic principles pertaining to cessation of hostilities. He reiterated need for simultaneous cease-fire. He stated he shared belief that situation different in three states but regrouping needed in all three. He expressed agreement to contact both at Geneva and in field between commands of two sides in order determine zones for regrouping and other matters. He said Bidault’s suggestion of demilitarized zones [Page 946] warranted further consideration and might be topic for discussion directly between parties. He expressed himself strongly on need for preventing introduction further troops and military matériel into Indochina after cessation of hostilities. He said Korean armistice procedures offered precedent and took occasion to stress importance he attached to stopping introduction into Indochina by US of military personnel and weapons. On question of supervision of armistice Chou En-lai endorsed DKV proposal of joint committees of belligerents and in addition Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission along lines followed in Korea. He spoke in most laudatory terms of performance of NNSC in Korea adding that failure by US forces to abide by provisions of armistice including those concerning prisoners of war had created difficulties. He painted picture of smoothly functioning armistice supervision by NNSC in Korea. With regard to international guarantees Chou En-lai said he shared view of French and Soviet delegations (to which he stated no objection had been taken) that all Geneva states join in guarantee. In case of violation, there should be consultation leading to collective rather than to individual measures. He anticipated no difficulties regarding prisoners of war and civil internees.

Chou En-lai envisaged agreement on principles followed by discussion regarding concrete application.

Vietnamese delegate then delivered earnest statement of Vietnamese views on imperative necessity of avoiding immediate or eventual partition through establishment of proposed regrouping zones. He stated DRV proposal would lead to this end due broad nature of economic, political, demographic and other considerations introduced by DRV in proposal as factors in determining zones. He recalled that conference designed not only ascertain and recognize facts but also achieve respect for justice and law. He recalled UN Charter provision re conditions for peaceful settlement of international disputes and also Stimson doctrine as applied Manchukuo. He recalled Stimson doctrine of non-recognition of results of acts of force had been approved by League of Nations members including some states represented at conference. He said partition would only lead to further war and presented proposal reading “The regroupment zones will be so established as not to impair the territorial and political unity of Vietnam.”

During recess Bidault, Eden and Smith agreed that Eden should seek Molotov’s agreement to adoption of either French proposal or of Eden’s proposal of May 25 with preamble and paragraph one amended to read, “In order to facilitate the early and simultaneous cessation of hostilities it is proposed that: 1. Representatives of the two commands should meet immediately in Geneva in order that this should [Page 947] also contribute to the establishment of contacts between the two parties on the spot.” with paragraphs two, three and four as originally presented (Secto 320 [302]4).

Molotov declined to accept either in absence of some indication there would be regrouping in Laos and Cambodia as well. Western three refused to concede on this and proposed that, rather than continuing discussion this afternoon, “drafting committee” should meet tomorrow at 11:00 to consider Eden, Bidault and Chou proposals and attempt to come up with common one. This was agreed. Phleger, Allen and Chauvel will represent Western three on drafting committee.

Comment: In private meeting of three at recess Bidault took strong stand, which I supported, against suggestions by Eden which would have had effect of so far by-passing issue as to permit Communists interpret as capitulation to their point of view. We much prefer French draft and will press for something along these lines in drafting committee.

It was clear Communists are in no hurry, and thus far entirely unwilling make any concession which would even temporarily bridge gap so as permit work start on Vietnam. Apart from events in Indochina they may well also be influenced by scheduling of Indochina debate for next Tuesday in French Assembly.

It was a day of complete frustration and we encountered absolute intransigeance on Communist side.

  1. A set of minutes of this session (IC Restricted/7) is in Conference files, lot 60 D 627, CF 278. The minutes indicate that the meeting convened at 3 p.m. and adjourned at 5:15 p.m. The minutes are also printed in Conférence de Genève, pp. 154–158.
  2. Dated May 27, p. 948.
  3. Dated May 27, infra .
  4. Telegram Secto 302, dated May 26, p. 920.