396.1 GE/6–854: Telegram

Fifth Plenary Session on Indochina, Geneva, June 8, 3:03 p.m.: The United States Delegation to the Department of State

Secto 404. Repeated information Paris 403, Saigon 152, London 259, Moscow 110, Tokyo 117 Phnom Penh Vientiane unn. Department pass Defense. Tokyo pass CINCFE. Following is text Eden statement fifth Indochina plenary Tuesday, June 8:

Gentlemen, next speaker to have his name down is your chairman who would ask your indulgence if he makes few observations at this point.

More than three weeks have gone by since we last discussed Indochina in plenary session and I think that public opinion everywhere will expect to hear what we have achieved during that time. My colleagues will no doubt agree we have made some progress, even if this has been slow but differences on main problems before us are still formidable and unless we can resolve them we shall have failed in our task.

An important step forward was our agreement on May 29. The representatives of the two military commands in Vietnam should discuss the terms of a cessation of hostilities in that country. These talks have now begun here in Geneva. It is to be hoped that these military exchanges will soon bear fruit in shape of agreed recommendations to conference but these talks concern only Vietnam. The conference has yet to come to grips with separate and distinct problems of Laos and Cambodia.

I think we can all agree that cessation of hostilities should be simultaneous throughout Indochina. It is arrangements, not timing, that need to be different in Laos and Cambodia. In Vietnam arrangements to be worked out must inevitably be complicated, in Laos and Cambodia [Page 1078]we have to deal with formidable but entirely distinct problem of Viet Minh invasion. I cannot regard these aggressive acts, some of which have taken place since this conference was announced at Berlin, as acts of peace. Nor are they merely symptoms of internal troubles. Therefore, no one should be surprised that they cause deep concern far beyond confines of states concerned.

If foreign troops are withdrawn from those two countries, peoples of Laos and Cambodia can be left to work out their own destiny safeguarded by international supervision from interference from beyond their borders. In this connection I note that the representative of Cambodia has told us today that Cambodia has no intention of allowing military bases to be established on her territory which might threaten peace of Indochina and Cambodia is willing, under appropriate conditions, to limit her own forces to those needed for defense of her territory.

Now I come to another crucial issue, international supervision. We are all agreed this must form an essential part of arrangements arrived at for the restoration of peace in Indochina. This all-important problem, which is common to all three states of Indochina is now central issue before conference.

It has, I think, been accepted that in Vietnam there shall be joint committees of two belligerents in addition to international supervision. These joint committees could probably render some useful service, provided that it was clearly understood that their functions were mainly technical and clearly subordinate to authority of an international supervisory commission.

After eight years of bitter fighting, even with the best will in the world, we must expect there will be differences between two sides comprising the joint committees. It’s therefore essential to provide for an international supervisory commission endowed with power to resolve these differences and to insure the proper execution of all provisions of the agreement for cessation of hostilities.

Here I should like to make a suggestion, which is, I submit, practical. Over a month ago Prime Ministers of Ceylon, Burma, India, Indonesia and Pakistan met at Colombo and discussed among other things problems of Indochina. Communiqué they issued after their discussion has, I think been of real value to our deliberations here. I should like to suggest that Asian powers represented at Colombo Conference are admirably qualified to assume responsibilities of supervising whatever arrangements are reached by this conference. These five countries meet essential requirements of impartiality. They have recognized [Page 1079]neither Viet Minh nor Associated States. We are bound to agree that, as Asian countries, they have particular concern in restoration of peace in Indochina and possess first-hand knowledge of kind of problems confronting us there. Moreover, they are probably close enough to be able to provide and organize without undue difficulty the large staff of qualified observers which will be needed.

Finally, there could be no danger of a deadlock on an international supervisory commission consisting of a panel of these five powers acting by majority of vote. This danger would, however, clearly arise if supervisory commission were to consist of an even number of states—half Communist and half non-Communist—as has been suggested by Mr. Molotov.

When we have solved problems of the authority and composition of proposed international supervisory commission, it will be necessary to study in detail its functions and structure. We shall also have to examine more fully question of guarantee by members of this conference of arrangements reached. Any such guarantees must be so designed as to insure that no one power has a veto over action considered necessary to secure observance of our agreements.

To sum up, therefore, the following are immediate tasks: first, it is necessary for military representatives of the two commands to submit agreed recommendations to conference for its consideration. Meanwhile, we have two urgent tasks, first, to reach agreements on composition and powers of the special problems of Laos and Cambodia. Until we have done these things, conference cannot be held to have made any decisive contribution to reestablishment of peace in Indochina.

Smith