396.1 GE/6–254: Telegram

Tenth Restricted Session on Indochina, Geneva, June 2, 3 p.m.: The United States Delegation to the Department of State1


Secto 364. Repeated information Paris 374, London 237, Saigon 139, Tokyo 104, Moscow 103, Phnom Penh, Vientiane unnumbered. Tokyo for CINCFE. Department pass Defense. Tenth restricted session, Wednesday, June 2, Molotov presiding:

US delegate made statement replying statements May 31 by Chou En-lai regarding NNSC in Korea and by Gromyko regarding composition proposed NNSC for Indochina. Statement based on quotations from May 4 letter to Military Armistice Commission signed by Swedish and Swiss members commenting on Polish-Czech report dated April 29. Quoted portions dealt with wholehearted support of NNSC by UNC, with absence any evidence indicating UNC has increased combat strength, concluding with full quotation final two [Page 996] paragraphs in which Swedish and Swiss members record refutations allegations of Poles and Czechs and full compliance of armistice agreement by UNC.

US delegate stated Gromyko proposal on composition unacceptable since it would result in arrangement exactly like Korea. With reference India and Pakistan, US delegate stated this might be helpful suggestion meriting serious consideration. He concluded: “It seems to us that India and Pakistan, in association with other genuinely neutral states, might provide the basis for a satisfactory and really effective supervisory commission”.

Chou En-lai made feeble reply referring again to reports of Neutral Nations Repatriation Commission where India sided with views of Poles and Czechs rather than with those of Swedes and Swiss as proving, on basis India’s unquestioned neutrality, that Poles and Czechs neutral rather than Swiss and Swedes.

Chou En-lai also stated he would distribute Polish-Czech communications dated April 15 and 30 and May 8 and 20. He concluded that rejection of Communists as neutrals unacceptable since on this basis there would be no neutrals because world divided between ideologies. He defined neutrals as countries not having participated in Indochina war and willing contribute peace there.

Chou En-lai supported Gromyko proposal as to composition Indochina NNSC (India, Pakistan, Poland, Czechoslovakia) pointing out that Poland and Czechoslovakia have diplomatic relations with DRV while India and Pakistan have them with France. (Chou En-lai defined two belligerents as DRV on one hand and on other France and her Associated States.)

Chou En-lai concluded by quoting paragraph 37 of Korean Armistice Agreement in which neutral nations defined as nations whose combat forces have not participated in Korean hostilities. He asserted this definition applicable to Indochina.

Bidault took issue with assertion of Soviet and CPR delegates regarding extent and number of points on which agreement reached. He said his delegation not bound by formal agreement on simultaneous cease-fire although believes this would be desirable if achievable in all three countries. However, if cease-fire can be achieved in one country at once, so much the better.

Principle of regrouping is acceptable to French delegation and to other eight delegations only so far as Vietnam is concerned. Military representatives currently studying regrouping in Vietnam. Results of these studies will be brought before the conference which will then have to examine consequences of proposals, methods of implementation, movement of troops, administration of zones, etc. Bidault stressed that [Page 997] questions of Laos and Cambodia remained entirely open and must be taken up as soon as possible by conference.

Bidault said he thought there was general agreement on principle of release prisoners of war and civilian internees and that this agreement could be recorded.

Turning to controls and guarantees, Bidault said that it would be an exaggeration to say there is any general agreement. Nine delegations have gone no further than to state there should be international neutral control in all three countries of Indochina. Little has been said regarding functions, structure, composition and supreme authority.

Bidault limited his remarks to Vietnam stating he would later give his views regarding Laos and Cambodia. He said function of international commission would be control of all clauses of armistice agreement and particularly:

Those dealing with regrouping including movement of troops;
Supervision of demarcation lines separating regrouping zones and, if necessary, of demilitarized sectors and territorial waters;
Execution of provision concerning prisoners of war and civilian internees and other problems.

Bidault noted that problem of prevention introduction fresh arms and troops following cessation of hostilities would arise only in case Vietnam since in other two countries cessation of hostilities would result achievement final peace. He expressed surprise Chou En-lai had referred only to introduction American personnel and troops and that both Chou En-lai and DRV had failed refer material assistance other side received at Dien Bien Phu and elsewhere from Communist China, USSR, Czechoslovakia, etc. He said French delegation could not accept control which was not complete and equitable.

Bidault envisaged central control commission choosing own headquarters and able set up necessary number of local commissions (also of international character) at locations related to tasks. Number of these local commissions would be scattered over territory at frontier points, ports and elsewhere. Central commission would also set up ad hoc international subcommissions for special tasks such as supervising release of prisoners of war and local manufacture of arms. Bidault stressed need for adequate modern transportation and communication facilities so that groups can be mobile and efficient. International commission would be able in its discretion to create and use joint bodies representative of two belligerents which, however, would function under the authority, responsibility and direction of international commission for performance certain special duties. Bidault again stressed importance that kernel of international organization be on ground at time of cessation of hostilities.

[Page 998]

Bidault suggested that at all levels of international control decisions be taken by majority. Conference need not otherwise set up rules of procedure determination of which could be left to international commission.

Regarding composition of international commission, Bidault agreed with US delegate’s appraisal of Korean experience. He said that commission which merely balanced opposite tendencies would be impotent which not equivalent of neutral. With regard to thesis that Communist countries cannot be neutral, Bidault read following quotation from statement by Mao Tse-tung in “new democracy” in 1940:

“At a time when rivalry between the Socialist states of Soviet Russia and the imperialist states of England and America is becoming still more acute, China must take sides. Such is the inevitable tendency. Can China be neutral and avoid taking a side? That is a day dream. The whole world will find itself included in these two battle lines. In the world, from now on, the word ‘neutrality’ is only good for deceiving the peoples.”

Bidault concluded with statement French delegation prepared examine any proposal on composition which would meet requirements of objectivity and disinterestedness.

Eden spoke after recess. Referring to Bidault’s proposal he stated some parts dealing with structure and functions of the neutral commission are inevitably technical in character. After consideration has been given to proposal it should be referred to a technical committee to work out details. Technical committee would then report back to restricted session.

Eden then referred to paragraph 4 of Chinese proposal, which suggested that joint committee be established consisting of representatives of two commands. Eden stated joint committee could render help to international commission provided the committee is subject to command of neutral commission.

Referring to composition of neutral commission, Eden stated it must be composed of truly neutral countries, not involved in Indochina conflict, and must not be deadlocked by two opposing views. It must act independently and impartially. Eden stated he could not agree that Korean Armistice Agreement provides acceptable precedent for Indochina neutral commission, and that two European countries, Poland and Czechoslovakia, would not be acceptable.

Viet Minh representative stated question of cease-fire must be considered as a whole. He then listed matters to be studied—implementation plans on zones and transfer of troops; prohibition of introduction of forces and equipment into Indochina; and organization for controlling cease-fire, including joint committee to supervise readjustment [Page 999] of zones and transfer of troops; and neutral commission to work with joint committee. Neutral commission would supervise non-introduction of troops and equipment into Indochina. He stated joint committee and neutral commission must work impartially. Dong mentioned responsibility for implementation of cease-fire would be up to joint commission which would be equivalent to armistice commission and would have representatives of two commands. Stated if two sides want peace, and presumably that is why they are at Geneva, it is up to conference to see that details of agreement will work.

Dong stated violations of armistice would be referred to joint committee which would take steps to refer matter to proper side for action to comply with armistice. Believes solution is simple and logical. If both sides—French and Viet Minh—really want peace, they should take action to obtain it with help of friendly countries.

Referring to relationship between joint committee and neutral commission, Dong stated their relationship would be one of coordination, not subordination. He then indicated Viet Minh agreement with Soviet proposal for neutral commission consisting of Poland, Czechoslovakia, India and Pakistan.

Dong stated international control for Indochina should not be under the United Nations and charged UN not really representative since one of great powers not represented there.

Molotov stated Eden’s recommendation for technical committee would best be considered after basic issues have been clarified by the conference. At that time, a technical committee could work out detailed arrangements.

Molotov referred to various proposals—Chinese, French and statements by other delegates—mentioning that there are a number of areas of basic agreement. The conference should record areas upon which there is agreement and then move on to areas of disagreement. Molotov noted only proposal for neutral commission for Indochina had been made by the Soviet delegation. There have been critical remarks on the Soviet proposal but not counterproposals. He stated criticism followed two lines—practical consideration and considerations on matter of principle. On former, he referred only to NNSC operations in Korea; on latter, he referred to statements by General Smith earlier in session. He stated position taken by US delegation might mean US has no desire for reaching agreement, does not want settlement of problem, and such position will hamper settlement. Stated much could be said about this matter and he might do so on another occasion. Further stated Soviet Union’s view on whether Communist nations neutral obvious and no comment necessary.

[Page 1000]

Referred to Soviet proposal for neutral commission which he stated recalls Korean neutral nations supervisory commission. Recognized NNSC had deficiencies and both sides at conference had criticized operation of NNSC. He stated regardless how much Swedish and Swiss members NNSC criticize Polish and Czech members, comments of latter much more solid than Swedish and Swiss comments. He then referred to comments by Chou En-lai on documents refuting statements of Swedish and Swiss members NNSC. He stated all four countries acknowledge US violations to Korean armistice and referred to statements of NNSC dated September 11, 16 and December 22, 1953, respectively. Referred to specific violations reported by Polish and Czech representatives NNSC, including 177 military aircraft, 465 guns and Howitzers, 1365 machine guns. Stated Polish and Czech representatives NNSC also drew attention that during October 1953–February 1954 UN Command used up tremendous number of shells including 130 million cartridges and 1,100,000 shells. This he indicated during period in which there were no hostilities.

Molotov stated in spite of weaknesses in NNSC, Soviet delegation, in interest of getting ahead with work, desired to make neutral commission in Indochina a workable organization. Molotov stated in considering matter of a neutral commission it would be inappropriate to draw upon references as to whether neutrality possible between Communism and imperialism as a question of principle. He stated question of neutral commission should be approached in the same manner as in Korea.

Molotov then repeated Soviet proposal for neutral commission for Indochina to be composed of India, Pakistan, Czechoslovakia and Poland. He stated Korean NNSC composed of four European countries whereas Soviet proposal for Indochina calls for two Asian and two European. Stated neutral commission should not be composed of countries having diplomatic relations with only one side, but two having relations with one side and two with other side. This would lead to better understanding and more secure armistice.

Cambodian representative challenged statement made earlier in session regarding non-introduction of arms and equipment into Indochina. Stated reference had been made to all of Indochina including introduction of arms and equipment into three states. Stated Cambodia would never agree and referred specifically to French proposal which had referred only to Vietnam.

Cambodian representative stated would again like to ask when case of Cambodia would be taken up by conference. If conference is to succeed, would be necessary to carry out coordinated and parallel examination of problem in Indochina.

[Page 1001]

In concluding meeting, Molotov read following communiqué, which was approved:

“At the restricted meeting on June 2, the nine delegations continued their discussion of the re-establishment of peace in Indochina. The next restricted meeting on this subject is to be held on June 3.”

Comment: At the tenth session, lines were clearly drawn on two points:

Composition of neutral nations commission. Communist side supported Soviet proposal for commission including India, Pakistan, Czechoslovakia and Poland. Our side rejected Czechoslovakia and Poland and favored Asian neutrals as basis.
Status of international commission in relation to supervision of armistice. On this point, Bidault clearly upheld authority and responsibility of international commission while DRV gave major responsibility to joint bodies made up of belligerents with international commission merely in a vague coordinating, auxiliary role. Molotov has not yet indicated whether DRV has Soviet support on this point although Chou En-lai appears to have given his approval to DRV general concept at May 31 meeting.

In course of Molotov’s remarks addressed to US delegation contention Communist state cannot be neutral, Troyanovsky, translating for Molotov, gave impression Molotov indicated countries not Communist must be imperialist. This was caught by Gromyko and correction rapidly made to general effect that question was neutrality between “Communism and imperialism”.

  1. A set of minutes of this session (IC Restricted/10) is in Conference files, lot 60 D 627, CF 278. The minutes indicate that the meeting convened at 3 p.m. and adjourned at 6:55 p.m. The minutes are also printed in Conférence de Genève, pp. 176–186. The speech by Bidault is in Conference files, lot 60 D 627, CF 283, and the speech by Pham Van Dong, Indochina Document IC/16, June 3, is in Conference files, lot 60 D 627, CF 279A.