396.1 GE/6–1054: Telegram

Seventh Plenary Session on Indochina, Geneva, June 10, 3: 03 p.m.: The United States Delegation to the Department of State1


Secto 420. Repeated information Paris 416, Saigon 160, London 267, Tokyo 125, Phnom Penh 7, Vientiane 4, Moscow 115. Tokyo pass [Page 1112]CINCFE. Department pass Defense. Seventh Indochina plenary Thursday, June 10, which Eden chaired opened with statement by Eden, as head UK delegation, in which he continued strong line taken in June 9 plenary. For text see Secto 419.2

Cambodian delegate was next speaker. In effort set record straight after distortions re Cambodia made by Communist delegates, Cambodian delegate reaffirmed his previous statements re separate nature of Cambodian problem, independence and sovereignty of Cambodia, and fact problem was solely one of armed invasion by Viet Minh. He attributed failure of Colombo powers to recognize Cambodia to their lack of knowledge of situation and expressed hope they would recognize Cambodia as soon as they become acquainted with treaties recently concluded with France. Saying that political problem as regards Cambodia does not exist and that nothing stands in way of conference examining military problem there, he proposed that conference devote its next meeting to Cambodian question, examining four-point proposal he introduced June 8. Endorsed Eden’s remarks re Cambodia.

Dong, Viet Minh delegate, followed with very long, intemperate, discursive tirade attacking Cambodia, Laos and “Bao Dai regime”, French colonialism and foreign imperialism in familiar Communist language. Dong concluded with statement in support of proposal made at earlier session by Molotov and seconded by Chou that French and Viet Minh should begin separate discussions of political questions simultaneously with the military talks now in progress.

After recess Cambodian delegate replied briefly to inaccurate statements made by Pham Van Dong re Cambodia and reserved right reply in more detail later.

Next speaker was Molotov, who in medium-length speech including little, if any, substance, accused both France and US of being responsible for delay in achieving peace in Indochina, said only Viet Minh was for free elections in Vietnam, etc. In repeating previous charges that governments of Associated States were not independent Molotov again referred to “numerous” official US statements urging France to grant them greater degree of independence. Molotov also replied briefly and rather weakly to statements United States delegate made June 9 re Soviet policy toward smaller nations, asked for US statement of policy toward efforts achieve peaceful settlement in Indochina and once more emphasized inter-connection political and military elements in Indochinese solution. He stated that conference would be performing its duty if it prevented any attempts to enlarge war in Indochina. Molotov concluded speech with cloudy remark (probably intended as rebuke to Eden) that if Eden’s statement of today had [Page 1113]contributed to efforts restore peace in Indochina, it would have been contribution to work of conference.

The Laotian delegate spoke next and in short, dignified and effective statement said that much had been said about the situation that exists in Laos. He asserted that Laos is an independent country and has nothing more to desire in this connection. He referred to Dong’s allegation that Laotian independence exists only on paper and that country is dominated by French. Since Dong has his own ideas about this question, the Laotian delegate suggested that the conference set up a commission to go to Laos to determine whose version of Laotian independence is correct and proposed that Dong go along and learn more about a country he does not know.

The Vietnamese delegate then took the floor and deplored that differences of opinion had to be aired between children of same nation while an atrocious war was in progress. He then spoke briefly to refute Molotov’s earlier statement that only the Viet Minh propose free general elections in Vietnam. He said this was in error for the Vietnamese delegate also proposed free elections with the significant difference that such elections should be accompanied by international supervision whereas the Viet Minh proposal included no such supervision. He concluded by making reference to the treaty initialed between France and Vietnam, stating that Vietnamese were proud of it and that it served the people well.

General Smith then made following statement:

“I must correct my friend Mr. Molotov in the interest of accuracy. The United States delegation at this conference has repeatedly stated that it accepts and recognizes the independence and sovereignty of the states of Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. The US maintains a senior diplomatic representative with these independent states, who is here presently. The US delegation has also stated repeatedly that to enable Laos and Cambodia completely to enjoy their sovereignty and independence in peace, it is only necessary for the invading forces of Viet Minh to withdraw from their territories. Admittedly, the problem of restoration of peace in the state of Vietnam presents greater problems, but they are not involved with matters of the sovereignty and independence of that state, which as I said, we fully recognize.

“With regard to our different opinions on matters of history, I leave the judgment to our colleagues. The policy of the US with regard to the establishment of peace in Indochina, about which Mr. Molotov asks is, on basic issues identical with that outlined at the beginning of our session by the representative of the United Kingdom, with which statement the US delegation associates itself completely.”

Prior to adjournment, Eden noted that there will be a Korea plenary tomorrow and that the two chairmen would arrange for the next session on Indochina.

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Eden’s remarks to effect that in crossing Laotian and Cambodian borders Viet Minh forces had crossed frontier between Chinese and Indian cultures is of interest as possibly reflecting Nehru’s views.

Communist speeches today probably intended for effect on French political situation as well as strictly stalling purposes. Member French delegation interpreted them as attempt put French delegation in position of having to defend Bao Dai (who is very unpopular with certain sections French population) publicly and thus leaving Communists free to charge that failure of conference to make progress is due to French Government’s support of “rotten Bao Dai regime”.

  1. A set of minutes of this meeting (US Verb Min/7) is in Conference files, lot 60 D 627, CF 277. The minutes indicate that the meeting convened at 3:03 p.m. and adjourned at 7 p.m. The minutes are also printed in Conférence de Genève, pp. 265–290. The speeches of Eden and Molotov and an extract of Smith’s speech are printed in Cmd. 9186, pp. 165–168. The speeches of Tep Phan, Eden, Pham Van Dong, and Molotov, Indochina Documents IC/26, IC/27, IC/28, and IC/29, respectively, June 10–12, are in Conference files, lot 60 D 627, CF 279A.
  2. Infra.