396.1 GE/6–354: Telegram

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


Secto 370. Repeated information Paris 380, London 241, Saigon 141, Tokyo 108, Moscow 105, Phnom Penh, Vientiane unnumbered. Tokyo for CINCFE. Department pass Defense. Eleventh restricted session, Thursday, June 3, Eden presiding:

Vietnamese delegate spoke on question international controls. He limited discussion to Vietnam stating Laos and Cambodia separate problems involving two independent sovereign states victims foreign invasion. He referred Bidault’s proposal yesterday emphasizing particularly need for vigorous control over 1,000 kilometers of frontier separating China from Vietnam.

Regarding composition of international control commission, he agreed with French and US delegates regarding need for impartiality. [Page 1016] He rejected concept that nonbelligerent states, in present world conditions, meet test of neutrality. He described absolute and exclusive nature of Communist ideology, contrasting it with conditions in non-Communist countries. There are differences between non-Communist states but not in and among Communist states. He referred both to internal regimes of Communist states and to voting record of those states in UN and other international organizations.

Vietnamese delegate rejected Soviet proposal that Czechoslovakia and Poland be included in neutral nations commission for Indochina. He referred to Chinese delegate’s contention that Soviet proposal equitable because two of proposed countries have recognized Viet Minh (Czechoslovakia and Poland) and two others have not. Vietnamese delegate pointed out, however, that while all four states proposed have normal relations with France, none has recognized Vietnam. Thus, Soviet proposal totally unacceptable for Vietnam which is completely ignored in Soviet proposal. He recalled 35 free states have recognized Vietnam, concluding that it is duty Vietnamese delegation protest vigorously against Soviet proposal.

Vietnamese delegate then referred to complex character Franco-Vietnamese side in struggle in which Vietnam and Vietnamese National Army play effective, increasingly important role. He stated that garrison of Yen Phuh, which has victoriously resisted Viet Minh for past three weeks, almost wholly Vietnamese. He added 80 percent of garrisons fighting Viet Minh in North Vietnam are Vietnamese.

Vietnamese delegate then turned to Korea pointing out that here UN carrying out action against aggressors from North by virtue Security Council decision based on Security Council responsibility for maintaining international peace and security. Enemy in Korea consists of both North Korean Army and Chinese People’s Volunteers. This is reflected in preamble and terms of armistice agreement alluding to dual character of Sino-Korean Command. Vietnamese delegate stated impossible to ignore state of Vietnam in considering make-up of anti-Communist side in Vietnam.

Vietnamese delegate stressed that state of Vietnam had freely agreed participate this conference and could not have been compelled to do so. He emphasized that conference could do nothing without agreement of Vietnam.

With reference to Eden proposal suggesting that conference include in control commission Asian states, Vietnamese delegate expressed favorable view but made two reservations:

  • First, pointing out that Indochina war is currently matter of worldwide interest and concern, he asked whether composition of international control commission should be confined exclusively to Asian states; although recognizing their great interest therein; and,
  • Second, since control of cessation of hostilities and all related agreements has technical character, he stated controls should be entrusted to states having sufficient stability and experience needed for task in question.

After summarizing views on neutrality and technical competence, Vietnamese delegate made proposal that control of execution of terms of Indochina agreement be handled through UN which meets conditions of neutrality. It is an organism of collective nature which already exists. It has no special sympathy for any state or group of states. It has on occasion synthesized policies of all member nations as in case of approval of declaration of rights of man in 1948. Although Communist states did not vote for this declaration, they did not vote against. He described two-thirds majority requirement in General Assembly as guarantee for all members. He also stressed technical competence of UN to which all main powers of world belong.

In closing, Vietnamese delegate cautioned against danger of neglecting UN where maintenance of peace involved. He stated that creation of ad hoc bodies endangers organization which aroused so much hope in world.

M. Bidault then spoke. He said Vietnamese proposal deserved careful consideration. He said undeniable UN founded by 50 countries in order advance rule of law and specific conditions necessary for maintenance of peace. He said UN had had successes, failures, and half successes. He recalled recent Colombo meeting where several Asian countries invited parties to Indochina conflict to have recourse to good offices and, eventually, to services of UN. The goodwill and impartiality of these Asian countries are beyond question. Therefore, Vietnamese proposal should be studied with great care.

Bidault stated that there are two aspects to be examined:

  • First, should conference ask UN to suggest composition of international commission or does conference prefer provide for this itself?
  • Second, what will be final authority supervising work of international commission—will it be UN as proposed, or will there be some other organism to which international commission would report?

Bidault asked that conference reflect on these two questions and be prepared with replies in near future.

French delegate then turned to Viet Minh explanation of functions of control mechanism made at tenth restricted meeting yesterday, which he described as unsatisfactory and surprising to French delegation. French delegate, following Molotov’s statement of May 14 (Secto 2122) and CPR statement of May 27 (Secto 3253) had believed there [Page 1018] was agreement in principle regarding international control. Bidault quoted from Molotov’s speech of May 14 (not from proposal) as follows:

“It would be possible to come to an agreement that supervision of implementation of the provisions of the agreement on the cessation of hostilities should be entrusted to commissions composed of representatives of neutral countries.”

Bidault recalled great satisfaction with which this agreement in principle had been received throughout world.

Bidault stated DRV proposal of yesterday very far from agreed concept. Dong proposes that control of armistice would rest solely on hands of joint commissions made up of representatives of two commands which would be termed an armistice commission and would alone be designated to fill this role. DRV gives to neutral commission merely secondary role including international aspects such as entry of matériel and personnel from outside. Viet Minh representative assigns entire enforcement of agreement to parties to struggle. Bidault stated this absolutely unworkable.

Bidault pointed out also that Viet Minh proposal dealt with all Indochina while French delegate can conceive of joint commissions of belligerents only for Vietnam. Bidault stated he reserved right to return to problem of Cambodia and Laos on another day, which he hoped would be soon.

Bidault, continuing analysis of Viet Minh proposal, stated that such important matters as regrouping of forces would escape neutral commission entirely being confined to joint commission whose role would be limited to supervision of ports and, with Viet Minh permission, to land frontiers. But neutral commission entirely eliminated from control of essential clauses of cessation of hostilities agreement.

Bidault referred to experience with joint commissions made up of belligerents eight years ago as demonstrating inefficiency and serious danger involved in this type of arrangement. Bidault admitted utility of joint bodies made up of people having practical knowledge of country but stated such bodies cannot act as judges in disputes of which their members are parties. In case of a violation, it would be presumably impossible to get agreement of joint body even as to fact of violation and thus control would break down. Joint commissions would be useless in cases of violations and, added Bidault, “I am afraid this is the goal sought”. Under Viet Minh proposal such important clauses as those referring to regrouping, transfer of troops, supervision of limits of zones, liberation of prisoners would escape from any real control. Result would be an interminable quarrel, without an arbiter, without [Page 1019] an end, and without hope. French delegation warns conference against this result.

Following recess, General Smith recalled US preference for UN as supervisory authority and stated Vietnam had given convincing speech to this end. He recalled US view Czechoslovakia and Poland could not be considered for NNSC and suggested India, Pakistan, Sweden and Switzerland might well have been proposed by our side. However, suggested not appropriate bandy names of countries in such a meeting. Therefore, if others agreed two chairmen arrange for discussion actual composition in more private manner. He also pointed fundamental importance resolving evident differences supervisory authority highlighted by Dong’s and Bidault’s presentations.

Chou started by saying that with respect to Eden’s proposal for the formation of technical committee he agreed with Molotov that we should exchange views and determine first principles before tackling question technical committees. He wished to set forth CPR delegation views on principal controversial questions. Most disputed dealt with question joint committees. On May 27 he had said that in order to supervise armistice there should be two kinds of organizations; (1) joint committee as proposed by DRV which should be actual armistice commission made up of representatives of two belligerents; (2) neutral nation supervisory committee as proposed by Molotov on basis of Bidault proposal that this commission would be composed of neutral nations invited by the conference. Question of terms of reference could best be determined by using those of Korean armistice agreement. He stressed that these two kinds of organizations would be mutually related but neither was to be superior to the other and NNSC was by no means to be over the joint committees. Function of joint committees to supervise fulfillment by two parties of armistice provisions. Function of NNSC to supervise and inspect violations of armistice agreement. Such violations could take place inside or outside Indochina. He found example of competence of both parties to carry out armistice in their implementation of recent agreement for evacuation of seriously wounded of Dien Bien Phu although he suggested that measure of sincerity had not been equal on both sides. Disputes or violations of armistice agreement which two sides could not reconcile would be taken up by NNSC which would be established for that purpose. Its functions would be two-fold: (1) to supervise demilitarized areas separating two sides in Indochina; and (2) to supervise throughout Indochina and along common frontiers with other countries introduction whether on land, sea, or air of fresh troops, arms and ammunition. With respect to first function joint commissions would see to execution armistice agreement and NNSC would also [Page 1020] supervise. Thus within Indochina there would be two kinds of organizations working together. Along frontiers NNSC would be directly responsible and this would be its more important function. Prohibition of introduction of fresh troops and material most essential to consolidation of peace in Indochina. CPR delegate cannot agree that NNSC would have different function in different states. Cambodian delegate had said that clause re non-introduction not applicable to his country but this would mean that the US could establish military bases in Indochina and thus threaten peace. CPR delegation for this reason could never accept this suggestion.

CPR view was that NNSC should be responsible to international guarantee of nine nations parties to conference. If NNSC should find impossible to deal with certain incidents they would be reported to nine nations who should seek agreement for collective measures to deal with problem. He still felt that neutral nations should be as defined in Article 37 of Korean armistice agreement. Bidault’s citation of Mao yesterday only proved that if ideological measure used there could be no neutrals. Only realistic approach was to define neutrals as those who had not participated in war. Vietnam delegation had proposed that UN supervise armistice. CPR must oppose. UN had nothing to do with Geneva conference and although some people were trying to drag UN into Indochina war for their own purpose only result could be new difficulties and obstacles in way of armistice in Indochina.

DRV delegate stressed necessity to agree on principles before proceeding to the details. Problem of restoration of peace in Indochina war not difficult to achieve if two principal parties wanted it. In that case questions of control and implementation of cease-fire would present no difficulties. French and DRV had right and responsibility exercise such control. His delegation wanted peace and if it signed an agreement intended to implement it. Why renounce responsibility for benefit of international body, he asked and he denied any difference in views between his and Soviet delegation on subject of control as alleged by Bidault. He stressed that control should be exercised over all three states of Indochina without exception; otherwise if Vietnam only were controlled shipment of troops and equipment could be made to adjoining state. This would constitute threat to security and serious menace of aggression against peace. He strongly reconfirmed his opposition to any and all proposals tending to give UN authority for execution of armistice saying everyone knew who hid behind that organization and asking was it really organization of United Nations, was it impartial and neutral?

Then Cambodian delegate unsuccessfully sought recognition and Bidault suggested that further debate of this important subject be [Page 1021] deferred to next meeting in order to avoid any temptation to polemics.

This was agreed and Eden found no objection to his proposal that Indochina restricted meeting be held tomorrow, Friday, June 4, and that there be Korean plenary on Saturday,4 Monday5 restricted session probably on Korea, and Tuesday6 plenary session on Indochina.

Comment: Clear Communist concept supervision closely follows Korean pattern. Chou today appeared give somewhat wider role to NNSC than Dong’s presentation yesterday by according it supervision of demilitarized areas along with joint commission and task of taking up disputes which two sides could not resolve. However difficult reconcile latter point with Chou’s statement supporting Dong’s position that NNSC was not “over” joint committee. No sign whatever of any break in rigidity Communist position on composition.

  1. A set of minutes of this session (IC Restricted/11) 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. 187–195. This message was transmitted to the Department of State in three sections.
  2. Dated May 14, p. 795.
  3. Dated May 28, p. 945.
  4. June 5.
  5. June 7.
  6. June 8.