396.1 GB/5–3154: Telegram

Ninth Restricted Session on Indochina, Geneva, May 31, 3 p.m.: The United States Delegation to the Department of State 1


Secto 356. Repeated information Paris 369, London 232, Saigon 137, Tokyo 103, Moscow 101, Phnom Penh, Vientiane unnumbered. Tokyo [Page 984] for CINCFE. Department pass Defense. Ninth restricted session, Monday, May 31, Eden presiding:

Eden stated conference had Chinese proposal of May 27 (Secto 3262) before it. First two paragraphs covered by military negotiations agreed last session. Most important remaining provisions refer to supervision on which US delegate spoke last meeting.

Gromyko who led Soviet delegation in Molotov’s absence pointed out CPR proposal dealt other matters which must be discussed also.

US delegate agreed stating CPR paper contained two most important points: Supervision and guarantees. US delegate, after stressing fact restricted meetings make it possible for delegates to speak plainly without worrying about public effect, spoke of great importance of supervisory machinery to be available as soon as fighting stops. He said this could at first be of an interim, local character but function must be taken over at earliest possible moment by international supervision.

US delegate then referred to Korean experience with NNSC “which we hopefully called neutral” and to Chou En-lai’s remarks concerning Korean experience. He said UN side had acted in good faith toward Commission and Communists had not. He read from letters of May 4 and 7 from Swedish and Swiss members of Commission to prove his point by impartial testimony. He concluded that armistice supervision by Neutral Nations Commission will not be effective unless:

Commission composed of truly neutral nations
Agreed system for checking reinforcements not dependent primarily on good faith opposing forces, and
Personnel of NNSC unrestricted geographically in activities.

Chou En-lai took strong issue with Smith’s statement. After criticizing Swiss and Swedes for lack of complete impartiality, he turned to report of Repatriation Commission in which there was majority report agreed by Indians, Poles and Czechs and minority report submitted by Swedes and Swiss. Chou En-lai said, however, NNSC had been basically successful and he referred to supervision over rotation of military personnel and replacement of arms and munitions. There has been no incident reported basically detrimental to armistice such as recurrence of hostilities. He denied reports that there have been armistice violations by North Koreans or Chinese volunteers. He referred to charge made on October 12, 1953, by senior delegate of UN Command to effect North Koreans and Chinese had shipped aircraft into North Korea. A thorough inspection on ground by NNSC related [Page 985] vealed this was without foundation. On other hand, UN Command’s requests to investigate North Korean Army to determine if POWs captured from ROK Army were serving there had been denied as beyond terms of armistice agreement. If this were not so, Communist side might well request right to investigate on UN side and even on Taiwan to find 48,000 prisoners held by force. Such request if made by Communists would also be denied as exceeding armistice agreement.

As to matter introduction fresh troops or matériel, Chou En-lai alleged NNSC inspection teams stationed at entry ports have full facilities. Those teams receive from North Korean-Chinese volunteer side reports in advance and may make inspections at any time including spot checks. He mentioned particularly possibility of making inspection of trains on which no advance report had been submitted. He referred also to fact that UN side had insisted on inspection teams located at two ports of entry which Communist side not using for rotations or replacements.

Chou En-lai “acknowledged fact” NNSC has met difficulties created by UN side. He referred to statements by Czech and Polish members April 15 and April 30. He mentioned four items.

14,000 prisoners of war shipped out of Korea at Inchon in violation Neutral Nations Repatriation Commission agreement. NNSC not allowed make inspection this movement. This was violation of agreement.
In ten months UN side has brought in over 7,500 combat aircraft allegedly as replacements but NNSC inspection has reported in addition 186 aircraft shipped in illegally resulting in increase of combat strength in violation of agreement.
There have been violations in matters of spare parts and other items which UN side has not allowed NNSC to inspect. This also increases combat strength and constitutes violation.
UN side only allows inspection of ships reported but refuses to permit inspection of ships not reported.

Chou En-lai concluded that Neutral Nations Commission should be able reflect views both sides and take care interests both belligerents while supervising terms of armistice impartially. He also favored joint commissions of representatives of two sides charged with implementation of armistice agreement.

US delegate repeated that Czechs and Poles on NNSC not neutral and added view Communists cannot be neutral.

After recess, DRV representative took issue with US delegate’s view regarding neutrality of Communists. He then announced designation by Viet Minh High Command of Ta Quang Buu (member of Viet Minh delegation here and currently Vice Minister of Defense) as official [Page 986] delegate to meetings of representatives of two High Commands. He will have several military advisers. Colonel Ha Van Lau of Viet Minh delegation will be prepared meet with Brebisson and others on French side on June 1 to prepare opening meeting representatives two High Commands.

Bidault accepted proposal for meeting and later indicated Franco-Vietnamese representative at military representatives meetings is to be General Deltiel assisted by high French and Vietnamese officers including Colonel Brebisson.

Cambodian delegate supported US delegate’s position regarding desirability appointing true neutrals to supervising authority and impossibility of Communist neutrality. He also reiterated that Chinese Communist proposals could refer only to Vietnam not to Cambodia. He stated he would submit a proposal dealing with Cambodia.

Gromyko then rehearsed Communist Chinese proposal (Secto 326) along very much the same lines followed by Molotov on May 29 (Secto 3493). He advocated recording agreements which had already been reached on these principles, namely,

That cessation of hostilities should be simultaneous;
That parties have now agreed to enter into military contacts to make appropriate readjustments of territories held by them;
That it is indispensable to control introduction into Indochina of fresh troops and matériel;
Need for international supervision and for proposed joint committee of belligerents to help supervise armistice;
Desirability of guarantees by Geneva powers with provision for consultation and collective action; and
Release of prisoners of war and civilian internees.

In speaking of supervision, Gromyko referred to alleged general approval of concept of joint commissions representing two commands. He also said there was general agreement regarding a neutral nations commission. He agreed with US delegate’s view that this matter of neutral nations commission required full discussion. He suggested a neutral nations commission composed of India, Poland, Czechoslovakia and Pakistan, stating that such a commission could supervise the implementation of the terms of the cessation of hostilities. He said it would have every reason to insure an impartial approach and every facility for carrying out its task. It would have the “necessary international authority”.

Gromyko took issue with US delegate’s statement regarding impossibility Communist nation being true neutral. He said this position [Page 987] might be turned in opposite direction but that he refused to reach any such gloomy conclusion. He said ideology is one thing and cooperation and the maintenance of peace is another thing.

Gromyko concluded by expressing hope conference could adopt a resolution setting forth agreements on principle which he had outlined in general support of CPR proposal.

Bidault said his understanding of agreements reached was not as broad as Gromyko’s. He considered international control as fundamental preliminary to any regrouping of forces and agreement on guarantees. International control must be effective, equitable and respected. He indicated he would be prepared later to give views.

With regard to Cambodia and Laos, Bidault said main task of control commission would be to insure withdrawal of invading troops. In Vietnam, task would be considerably more complex including internal organization, inspection of regrouping areas and of lines separating zones and disarmament of irregulars. He indicated acceptance of concept of joint commissions representing belligerents as adjuncts to international commission. He stressed, however, responsibility of control would rest with international commission which would have supreme authority to see to implementation of agreements. He said conference must define:

Functions of international commission;
Composition to be drawn from countries truly neutral; and
Permanent authority to which commission would report.

As to composition, Bidault refrained from entering controversy as to whether Communist countries can be neutral but he said Gromyko’s proposed commission bore a great resemblance to composition already accepted in Korea. Bidault noted with approval views of US delegate on results there. He suggested conference would be justified in seeking some new approach and said that he might later have some proposals.

Cambodian delegate then took strong issue with Gromyko’s statement on paragraph 2 of China’s proposal dealing with regrouping zones. He stressed that military conversations will deal only with Vietnam. He recalled that Molotov, as chairman at last meeting, had taken note of Cambodian and other reservations but that today Gromyko had referred only to communiqué. Cambodian delegate asked that Cambodian reservation be included in today’s communiqué. Eden turned down this request with statement situation was as left at last meeting, namely, that conference took note of reservations and delegates were free to make these reservations public.

[Page 988]

Agreement was then reached on communiqué (Secto 3554). It was agreed, on Eden proposal, that a day for contacts and reflection would be useful. The next restricted meeting will be June 2.

Original draft of communiqué spoke of “military representatives of France and the DRV”. As a result of point made by Vietnamese representative and proposal of Soviet delegate language finally adopted was “military representatives of the two sides”.

(Comment: Although this may be somewhat ambiguous, record of discussion makes clear that military representatives included on the one hand French High Command including French and Vietnamese officers and on the other hand representatives of DRV High Command.)

Comment: Chou En-lai was obviously caught unprepared by Smith’s statement on NNSC and after period of silence during which there were no speakers finally spoke extemporaneously and with more animation than he has thus far shown while aides scurried out to obtain material brought in piece-meal while he was speaking.

  1. A set of minutes of this session (IC Restricted/9) is in Conference files, lot 60 D 627, CF 278. The minutes indicate that the meeting convened at 3 p.m. and adjourned at 7 p.m. The minutes are also printed in Conférence de Genève, pp. 168–175.
  2. Dated May 27, p. 947.
  3. Dated May 29, p. 970.
  4. The text of the communiqué, transmitted to the Department of State in telegram Secto 355, May 31, was as follows: “The nine delegations continued in restricted session their discussion of the problem of restoring peace in Indochina. The conference was informed that a preliminary meeting would be held on June 1 between military representatives of the two sides in order to make arrangements for the meetings of the representatives of the two commands. The next meeting of the conference will be held on June 2.” (Conference files, lot 60 D 627, OF 258)