Conference files, lot 60 D 627, CF 319

Memorandum by the Adviser to the United States Delegation (Bonsal) to the Head of the Delegation (Smith)



  • Indochina

I called on Ambassador Chauvel at 12:30 today at the latter’s request.

Regarding the current military conversations, Chauvel said that absolutely no progress had been made. The Vietminh have insisted on trying to reach agreement regarding the general principles contained in their May 25 proposal whereas the French have wished to start from Laniel’s proposals of March 5. Late Saturday, the French suggested that a good way to begin might be to establish the present military positions of the opposing sides. The French plan this afternoon to present their situation and see if this elicits anything specific from the other side. They are not optimistic because of the generally delaying tactics of the other side including insistence on speaking Vietnamese, citing from Communist newspapers, etc., etc.

On the matter of controls, Bidault has had a talk with Chou En-lai and Chauvel himself has seen Wang Ping-nam three times. The CPR position is firmly to the effect that the control commission must have two members having relations with the Vietminh. The fact that France’s relations with India are less than cordial does not alter the Chinese Communists’ position that India is one of our side’s neutrals. Bidault is seeing Chou En-lai this evening and something may develop although so far the CPR position is one of firmly supporting the Soviet proposal on composition.

Bidault saw Molotov this morning with completely negative results. Chauvel described Molotov as having behaved like a “smiling [Page 1051] log”. Molotov suggested that perhaps one reason the military discussions were not making greater progress was because “someone is expected” i.e., the Vietminh Delegation is not yet complete. Molotov insisted on the Soviet proposal regarding composition and particularly the inclusion of states having diplomatic relations with the Vietminh.

Krishna Menon saw Bidault for an hour and a half yesterday. He also insisted that the control commission should include someone having relations with the Vietminh.

It is the French impression that Molotov’s attitude since his return from Moscow has hardened to some extent. The French note that since Molotov’s return from Moscow he has had no direct contact with Eden. The French also regret that Eden has been away this weekend and therefore no contacts have been possible during these critical three days.

Bidault will be prepared to make a speech tomorrow generally summarizing the French proposals and the various arguments which have been advanced in the course of the restricted sessions. Bidault is according to Chauvel satisfied that the plenary here will precede the speech he will make to the Assembly and that thus he can use the speech he made here in reporting to the Assembly.

Ambassador Chauvel stated at both the beginning and the end of his conversation with me that the French are very much concerned and annoyed at the lack of any progress. They are in the dark as to the enemy’s military intentions, and are fully aware of the fact that between June 15 and June 20 General Giap will be ready to resume the offensive.