396.1 GE/6–1454: Telegram
Smith–Eden–Chauvel Meeting, Geneva, June 13, Evening: The United States Delegation to the Department of State
Dulte 179. Repeated information London 275, Paris 426, Moscow 120. Limit distribution. I met with Eden and Chauvel Sunday evening.
Eden reported he had informed Laotian and Cambodian delegations Molotov’s suggestion for military talks with those countries (Dulte 1761 and that both had replied could not consider agreeing such talks unless it was clear they would be about withdrawal of Viet Minh troops. Cambodia had no objections to a plenary or restricted session on Laos and Cambodia, provided it was clearly understood they would not modify their attitude.
Eden also reported that Laotians have asked his advice on whether they should appeal to UN and Cambodians had indicated if they failed to get satisfaction at this conference they could take their case elsewhere. Eden said he considered it necessary give both delegations clear indication his views. He proposed tell both of them that having failed secure at Geneva withdrawal of Viet Minh forces, if they thought it right take their case to UN on ground their territories had been invaded, they could count on UK approval and support. However, ground would need preparing here, possibly by asking for early meeting [Page 1133]on Laos and Cambodia to discuss Mr. Molotov’s suggestion, and if at meeting it became apparent no further progress toward settlement, Laos and Cambodia delegations might if they wish announce at meeting or soon thereafter intention take case to UN.
Eden indicated he was thinking in terms Laos and Cambodia bringing their case to UN as aggression, moving first to Security Council and then immediately to General Assembly under Part A Uniting for Peace Resolution, stating that “If we mean to draw a line, this is the way we might do it”.
Eden also stressed view that if conference drags on and Viet Minh take advantage situation switch troops for major invasion of Laos and Cambodia, we would bear heavy responsibility if we had discouraged them from proceeding to UN. He also said he strongly felt we were losing by staying on any longer; the time had come to recess the conference while French-Viet Minh military talks continued. If anything developed from those talks which should be reported to conference, it could be reconvened.
Chauvel professed ignorance of Bidault’s thinking, repeating French view on getting POC into Cambodia and Laos through Thai appeal. He made obscure statement to effect that in “underground military talks” with Viet Minh which are going on simultaneously with military staff talks, Viet Minh had said there was no chance getting anything on Vietnam if French position on Laos and Cambodia maintained. He said in these talks French had feeling that the Chinese were pushing Viet Minh move into Laos and Cambodia and that Viet Minh were not in control that situation. Stated he felt question Laos and Cambodia appeal to UN only one of timing and that effort should first be made get military talks going on satisfactory basis for Laos and Cambodia, and if this failed those two countries should go ahead with appeal to UN.
I said that I did not see why appeal by Laos and Cambodia under Part A Uniting for Peace Resolution should interfere with action on Thai appeal—they could both go along together. However Thai appeal should be pressed as both would take about same time. I raised question of what effect separate appeal by Laos would have on writing off Vietnam. Eden and Chauvel both thought that there was basic difference between situation in Laos and Cambodia and that in Vietnam both with respect to actual conditions on the spot and with respect to conference, that appeal by Laos and Cambodia would not have harmful effects on Vietnam; that is, Laos and Cambodia were clearly victims external aggression and with respect to conference military talks were going on re Vietnam, whereas no basis for military talks on Laos and Cambodia had been found.[Page 1134]
I fully agreed that things should be wound up here as quickly as possible so that we can get ahead on serious talks on collective action as only real means of improving situation. I said important decisions must be made, and this cannot be done while unprofitable debate is going on here. Only if the Communists believe we are going to do something is there likely to be improvement in present situation, and the sooner we got ahead on this, the better.
Eden said that if the Cambodian and Laotian delegations agreed, he would see Molotov Monday morning and suggest an early meeting on Laos and Cambodia, while warning Molotov that there is no change in the basic position on our side.
Eden said in deference to French views, he would not yet inform Laos and Cambodia they could count on UK approval and support, but would otherwise talk to them along lines set forth second paragraph this message.
During course conversation Chauvel said it was obvious that “official” military staff talks will not and cannot get anywhere; (in characteristic Chauvel fashion) he has hopes that the very secret “underground” military talks which are going on simultaneously might get some place (Dulte 1732). He is anxious that at least official military talks continue to provide cover for secret talks. Chauvel said he was going to phone Bidault and urge he return to Geneva Monday.