396.1 GE/5–2854: Telegram

SmithEdenBidault Meeting, Geneva, May 28, Afternoon: The United States Delegation to the Department of State


Secto 336. Limited distribution. This afternoon Eden proposed the following:

“In order to facilitate the early and simultaneous cessation of hostilities it is proposed that:

Representatives of the two commands should meet immediately in Geneva and contacts should also be established on the spot.
They should study the dispositions of forces to be made upon the cessation of hostilities, beginning with the question of regrouping areas in Vietnam.
They should report their findings and recommendations to the conference as soon as possible.”

Eden discussed this with me and Bidault as [representing?] the maximum that he believed the Communists would accept. He proposes to discuss this tomorrow with Molotov firstly with the words “and simultaneous” omitted, but if necessary agreeing to inclusion of these words. If Molotov agrees and the French, ourselves, and the Laotians, Cambodians, Vietnamese agree then he would present it at tomorrow’s Indochina session.

In Phleger’s opinion this proposal confirms the Russian position that all three states should be considered in the same category, Vietnam State being different only in the priority given it. He, therefore, believes that we should not consent to the inclusion of the word “simultaneous” and that the instruction to the military people should be limited at this time to the study of the question of regrouping areas in Vietnam. He believes the resolution treating all three states as being in the same situation would give the military authority to propose a plan that could give the Viet Minh areas in Laos and Cambodia. He does not think our assent should be used to secure assent of Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. However, if all except ourselves agree he believes that we could go along without expressing concurrence.

I do not share his apprehensions.

I have made clear constantly that US considers Laos and Cambodia in a different situation than Vietnam and I do not view this proposed resolution as departing from this principle. I assume that the military representatives of the French and Associated States in their talks will under no circumstances agree to anything other than the withdrawal [Page 966] of Viet Minh forces from Laos and Cambodia. If all others agree I will state that our position re separate problems of Laos and Cambodia remains unchanged, and that I will reserve my opinion until I see the recommended solution of the military experts, but will not oppose the effort to arrive at one.