Conference files, lot 60 D 627, CF 312

Memorandum by the Special Adviser to the United States Delegation (Reinhardt) to the Coordinator of the Delegation (Johnson)1

official use only


  • Kingsbury Smith-Zhukov Conversation

Kingsbury Smith (INS) dined last night with Zhukov of Pravda. Smith gave me the following fill-in on their conversation:

Soviet attitude. When asked why Molotov had returned from Moscow with an apparently tougher line, Zhukov said that this was because the French were obviously stalling and trying to sabotage the Conference. For example, in the military talks, the only proposal which the French had put forward was the old Laniel proposal of [Page 1110]March 5. This was obviously ridiculous because the situation had changed materially since that time.
Viet Minh proposal. Zhukov said that as a counterproposal, the Viet Minh would shortly put forward a plan to the military committee which would entail their retaining all of the Red River Delta except the Hanoi-Haiphong area. This proposal would be followed by one for the balance of Viet Nam. He gave the impression that the proposal which he described as generous would call in effect for a withdrawal of the French to the coastal regions where they would retain a sort of Hong Kong type of foothold. When Kingsbury Smith commented that this seemed to imply that the Viet Minh would retain all of the interior, Zhukov said that this could not be avoided under any circumstances.
Communist veto or unanimity principle. When asked whether the Communist side would freeze on the issue of retaining the veto power in any international control organization, or whether some kind of compromise might be possible, Zhukov said he thought that the unanimity rule might not have to apply in all cases. Certainly it would in such a matter as intervention by the guarantor states but he felt that the Conference by defining the various contingencies could establish same in which a two-thirds or even a simple majority vote might be acceptable.
General Smith’s stay. Zhukov inquired more than once whether General Smith was going home shortly and seemed to show concern on this score. Kingsbury Smith replied that he of course did not know but would assume that the General would not stay on indefinitely in Geneva if no progress were made at the Conference. Zhukov said it was important to keep the Conference going. Molotov was confident that agreement could be reached at the Conference but it would take time. Zhukov said that no progress was likely until after the French governmental crisis had been brought to an end nor were serious negotiations possible until Bidault became convinced that the US was not going to intervene in Indochina.
General Smith dinner for Molotov. Zhukov asked whether General Smith had liked his dinner with Molotov and stressed its length. Kingsbury Smith replied that he didn’t know and commented to me that it was quite evident that Zhukov would have been very interested to get a reply to this question.
European conference. When asked whether there was anything behind the rumors that the Soviet government would like to call another conference on European questions in the near future, Zhukov replied that they felt such a conference would not be useful until the current Asiatic problems had been settled.
Trade relations. Zhukov stated that one should attach great importance to the forthcoming visit of Chinese trade delegates to the United Kingdom. He said his government felt it was a shame that the US did not send businessmen to the Soviet Union.

  1. Summary of discussion transmitted to the Department in telegram Secto 423, June 11. (396.1 GE/6–1154)

    Heath in a note to Under Secretary Smith, attached to the source text, indicated that “you will find of interest the attached report.”