396.1 GE/6–954: Telegram
Sixth Plenary Session on Indochina, Geneva, June 9, 3:05 p.m.: The United States Delegation to the Department of State1
Secto 413. Repeated information Paris 410, Saigon 157, London 263, Tokyo 131, Moscow 113, Phnom Penh, Vientiane. Department pass Defense. Tokyo pass CINCFE. Sixth Indochina Plenary session, Wednesday, June 9, with Molotov presiding: Dinh (Vietnam) opened session with statement subdued in tone and ironic at Molotov’s expense. He said he would not reply to Viet Minh’s insults of their brethren but took issue with Molotov’s false statement. He thanked Molotov for interest in independence of his country and referred well-known Soviet liberation of other small nations as evidence their action toward Eastern European countries since Yalta. He told Molotov that while Vietnam army has not yet had time to develop fully, soldiers fighting for their country should not be insulted. Dinh reminded conference of firm stand his delegation took which led to unanimous agreement by conference there should not [be] partition of Vietnam and rejected Viet Minh proposals as in fact proposing partition which would give them power to perpetuate themselves in their area.
Dinh came out strongly for international supervision of elections, as well as international supervision of implementation of armistice, which he said should be by UN. He rejected Soviet concept of Commission of India, Pakistan, Czechoslovakia, Poland pointing out that none of them had recognized Vietnam. UN would be impartial and neutral and most appropriate for armistice supervision. He recalled Soviet proposal December 24, 1948 for SC armistice commission in Indonesia. He also rejected Viet Minh concept that joint commission was effective, citing Vietnam experience in 1946 to show joint commission never worked in practice.[Page 1088]
Phoui Sananikone (Laos) followed with résumé his government’s position, stressed difference between situation Laos, Cambodia on one hand and Vietnam on other and repeated withdrawal of foreign invading forces would in fact result in cessation of hostilities. He said his Government’s position is based on three points: (1) Laos is independent; (2) it has a democracy, united national government; and (3) there is no civil strife but only invasion of Viet Minh forces. He referred to tyranny and atrocities by invaders who pretend to champion liberty.
Turning to issues under discussion in relation to Vietnam, he said supervision must be effective and impartial which requires international neutral organ. Laos would prefer that it be UN which is most appropriate. If agreement cannot be reached on UN supervision they are prepared to examine other possibilities, e.g., Asian countries such as Pakistan, Thailand, India, Ceylon and Philippines.
Following recess, Chou En-lai spoke, opening with statement that while some progress made this had been considerably short of expectations. He proceeded to summarize his delegation’s views, starting with quotation of his May 27 6-point proposal (Secto 3262), and elaborating on each point. He emphasized the following with reference numbered paragraphs of proposal:
- Cease-fire must be simultaneous in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos, even if procedurally at conference countries might be considered successively.
- Disposition of forces following cease-fire should apply to entire territory of Indochina, although since situation not entirely alike measures for settlement probably not same. He rejected idea that Communist forces in Cambodia and Laos should be evacuated, insisting they were local forces and therefore could not be removed from country. Chou En-lai also called for contacts between commanders in Indochina as well as in Geneva.
It was essential to stop completely introduction of military personnel and material, which must include arms and personnel of United States. So far as supervision is concerned, Korean armistice agreement may be used for reference. Prohibition on such reinforcement must apply to all three Indochina states. As in Korean armistice agreement, supervision should be divided between joint commission and neutral nations supervisory commission with terms of reference like case in Korean armistice. Reference to composition of commission, he rejected argument that Communist states like Poland and Czechoslovakia cannot be neutral and said if Communist countries cannot, neither can capitalistic states, and it would be impossible to find any neutrals. Definition of neutrals he said should be that contained in Korean armistice agreement. If Communist states are barred from neutral nations’ body, it will be impossible to reach agreement on composition.[Page 1089]
As to relationship between neutral nations supervisory commission and joint commission, neither should be subordinate to other, but both should have parallel and supplementary functions as in Korean armistice agreement.
Commission must operate by unanimity rule and not by majority. He rejected Smith criticism of NNSC into UN, saying it has been very effective, examining entry of over 2 million military personnel and over 7,000 US aircraft. Commission he said should not be prejudiced in favoring either side and must reflect views of both sides. He admitted there were disagreements in NNSC, but maintained this safeguarded Korean armistice agreement. If Poles and Czechoslovaks barred investigation of false US charges that PWs retained by Communists, Swiss and Swedish prevent investigation of US forcible retention and transfer to Taiwan of thousands of Chinese PWs. Indeed he said NNRC, which worked by majority, disregarded Poles and Czechoslovak views and has resulted in deadlock on forcible US retention of Communist PWs which still unresolved. NNSC on other hand has not taken action contrary to views of either parties and has therefore succeeded.
- Neutral nations supervisory commission should be responsible to countries providing international guarantees for peace in Indochina.
- UN supervision which has been proposed is unacceptable. Conference has nothing to do with UN and recent efforts to place Indochina question on UN agenda to step up intervention in Indochinese war makes it still less appropriate for UN to assume responsibility for supervising Indochinese armistice. Guarantees instead should be by participating states of conference who should agree to carry on consultation and adopt collective instead of individual measures in event of violation.
- View of experience re Dien Bien Phu personnel, agreement on exchange of PWs and interned civilians should present no problem. After cease-fire throughout Indochina, PW question should be submitted for discussion in Geneva and in Indochina.
Chou En-lai concluded with attack on US efforts to extend war in Indochina, and prevent Geneva Conference from reaching agreement. He also attacked “war faction in France” which was seeking American intervention and enlarged aid and has adopted dilatory tactics at conference. Chou En-lai also charged us with intensifying activities to organize SEA bloc, thereby continuing to locate tensions in Far East and to threaten peace and security of Asia throughout the world. Recent treaties between French Government and Bao Dai running contrary to true independence for Vietnamese people also not conducive to early restoration of peace.
Finally, Chou En-lai said that military issues and political issues are interrelated and cannot be completely separated. On this point, he said Korean experience has shown that these issues must be treated together since political conference pursuant to Article 6 proof Korean [Page 1090] armistice agreement never took place and Geneva Conference has produced no results so far and these political and military questions should be considered by conference along parallel lines and in rotation as suggested by Molotov.
Meeting concluded with Smith statement contained in Secto 412.3 It was agreed to meet again in plenary Thursday, June 10.
Comment: Chou En-lai statement revealed no hint of concession and contained flat statements that it would be impossible to obtain agreement except on Communist terms, particularly re composition of neutral nations supervisory commission, its relation to mixed changes and unanimity provision in its operation. Believed it will harden UK and French positions.
- A set of minutes of this meeting (US Verb Min/6) is in Conference files, lot 60 D 627, CF 277. The minutes indicate that the meeting convened at 3:05 p.m. and adjourned at 7:15 p.m. The minutes are also printed in Conférence de Genève, pp. 237–264. The speeches by Phoui Sananikone and Chou En-lai are printed in Cmd. 9186, pp. 153–165. The speeches of Phoui Sananikone, Nguyen Quoc Dinh, and Chou En-lai, Indochina Documents IC/23. IC/24, and IC/25, respectively, June 9–10, are in Conference files, lot 60 D 627, CF 279A.↩
- Dated May 27, p. 947.↩