396.1 GE/6–1454: Telegram

Thirteenth Restricted Session on Indochina, Geneva, June 14, 3 p.m.: The United States Delegation to the Department of State 1


Secto 440. Repeated information Paris 432, London 280, Saigon 166, Tokyo 134, Moscow 122, Phnom Penh, Vientiane unnumbered. Department pass Defense. Tokyo pass CINCFE. Thirteenth restricted session, Monday, June 14. Molotov presiding.

Molotov reviewed proposals which have been made during past weeks re joint committee of belligerents and international supervisory commission in connection with implementation agreement on cessation of hostilities in Indochina. He recalled paragraph eight of DRV May 10 proposal and paragraph four of French proposal of May 8, as well as Soviet proposal May 14. Latter proposal included provision for a supervisory commission composed of neutral countries. On May 31, USSR proposed composition to include India, Poland, Czechoslovakia and Pakistan.

Molotov repeated already stated views on Communist side to effect joint commissions of belligerents should work parallel to and not be subordinate to international commission. He recalled Soviet discussion on this matter June 8. He stressed thesis that implementation of armistice agreements is primarily duty of two sides in war. He stated that if either side is determined not to carry out the agreement, no international commission could insure its being carried out.

[Page 1138]

On matter of method by which international commission may reach decisions, Molotov for first time advanced that since international commission would be dealing with questions of varying importance, unanimity rule need not be applied to all matters. In certain cases a majority vote would be sufficient with chairman having deciding vote (at end of meeting Molotov stated India should be chairman).

Molotov then submitted detailed proposal transmitted separately via pouch (see Secto 4422). Molotov concluded that Soviet delegation believes these proposals take into consideration remarks made by other delegations during discussion this subject and should therefore, facilitate agreement.

USDel (verbatim text transmitted in Secto 4413), after referring to importance of two questions brought up by Molotov, namely, authority of international supervisory commission and composition thereof, turned to question of special situation in Laos and Cambodia. He stressed previously stated views regarding independence, constitutional character of these governments and fact that two countries victims of foreign invasion. He concluded with proposal that next restricted session be devoted to problem of restoring peace in Laos and Cambodia.

USDel expressed regret that Molotov continued insist on parallel nature of international supervisory commission and mixed commissions. He made point that submission by former belligerents to authority of a truly impartial international agency would be an essential text of good faith of parties. He also stressed necessity for international commission to be able, in fact, to reach decisions. He again rejected Soviet proposal of India, Poland, Czechoslovakia and Pakistan. He repeated his general acceptance of either Colombo powers or UN selected commission.

French delegation (Chauvel) stated he unable make comparison Molotov’s June 8 discussion with present proposal. He criticized most recent Soviet proposal stating that distribution of functions between joint commission and international commission seemed to involve duplication and overlapping. He referred to French June 4 proposals with particular emphasis on fact international commission to be complex, large-scale affair with ample facilities. He questioned whether Molotov’s proposal met this point. He added that relationship between international commission and joint commissions as proposed by Molotov, i.e., parallel relationship, appeared to him unsatisfactory. He noted that in Molotov’s proposal joint commissions not obliged to recognize or accept decisions of international commission but can refer [Page 1139] those decisions back to international commission. There is, of course, further reference to guarantor powers who would act as sort of super arbiters. This generally unsatisfactory since basis of true control should be body with real power. He referred to old French saying that Roland’s mare was most beautiful horse in world, but unfortunately, was dead.

Chauvel then referred to composition of international commission. He characterized Molotov proposal as in effect providing that international commission would have equivalent composition to joint commission since members would represent parties. He said that it should be possible to find a commission made up of true neutrals. He added that Bidault had agreed to the UK proposal re the Colombo powers and French delegation maintains open mind re any proposal involving truce impartiality.

Chauvel expressed himself as being puzzled at Molotov’s proposal as to procedure in reaching decisions by the international commission. He said distinction between subjects which can be decided by majority and those to be decided by unanimity not clear. He suggested a list of subjects might be drawn up to make this issue more precise. He expressed fear that requirement of unanimity is provided in those cases which are most important and which therefore are very ones requiring most rapid decision.

Chauvel agreed fully with US delegations position re Laos and Cambodia. He said French Government also through its representatives and agents in those countries could endorse facts and conclusions advanced by Laotian and Cambodian delegations. He added that French delegation has not opposed international control in Laos and Cambodia but has merely said that since military situation there different from that in Vietnam, international control would be applied to different subject matter. Chauvel endorsed US delegation suggestion for early meeting on Laos and Cambodia.

Following recess Chou En-lai, after commenting on the artificial deadlock created by certain delegations made detailed statement in support of Molotov’s proposal. He ended by referring to question of Khmer and Pathet-Lao and saying that his delegation was prepared to put forward views on this subject at future meetings.

Dong then stated that for his delegation joint commission was the armistice commission. He referred to previous comments which had cited precedent of 1946 as proof inability such mixed commission to function properly and asserted that state of mind of those who signed 1946 agreements well known to him since he had participated in Fontainbleau meeting. In interim, eight years had passed and many things had happened. Armies had gotten to know each other and at Geneva [Page 1140] conference Viet Minh had made proposals which were generally recognized as reasonable. This had had influence on members of French Expeditionary Corps and from those officers and men taken at Dien Bien Phu Viet Minh knew of their deep desire for peace. These were no longer the men of 1946, and as far as his side was concerned, their desire for peace was indubitable. The Viet Minh army and people would respond as a single man when the order was given for them to respect the armistice. All this lead to inevitable conclusion that one could trust the people who would compose joint commission. He was in complete accord with the Soviet proposal.

On subject of Khmer and Pathet-Lao he insisted that basic fact of situation was existence of liberation movement in each country. His delegation was ready to discuss problem on this basis.

He then recalled that on June 10, he had said that three fundamental issues divided the conference: (1) membership of supervisory commission; (2) its authority; and (3) fate of Laos and Cambodia. Despite Molotov’s efforts today to deal with technical aspects of commission’s function he nevertheless felt that principal differences remain unresolved. Military discussions now in progress was solid achievement and one must await results. He supported US suggestion that day be devoted to Laos and Cambodia but if no progress were made he doubted whether any good purpose served by conference continuing to debate unresolved questions. He suggested that conference might suspend its meetings until military committee could report on its work. He was not asking for an immediate reply from his colleagues but thought they might think it over.

Cambodian delegation pointed out Soviet proposal dealt only with Vietnam. Because of special position of Cambodia he was in full accord with US proposal that next session study Cambodian problem.

Molotov wished to make two supplementary observations re his today’s proposal. He thought chairmanship of commission could be settled in usual way and that first named member of commission could be chairman and could have the deciding vote on questions where majority rule accepted. This formula would give India chairmanship. Up to now no objections had been raised re this country. He reiterated that any subordination of joint commission to international supervisory commission would be incorrect since this would imply that joint commission should act on orders of international commission. Presumably such orders could only be enforced by force of arms and would mean that international military forces would have to be introduced into Indochina. Such introduction would be contrary to objective of establishing peace in Indochina. Therefore he insisted to want subordination meant not to want peace. Although he did not consider [Page 1141] information on Laos and Cambodia provided by UK and US reflected sufficient objectivity and his delegation’s views were well known he nevertheless had no objection to consideration of this subject at subsequent meeting but would hope such consideration would not preclude consideration of important questions discussed today.

Next restricted meeting Wednesday, June 16.

  1. A set of minutes of this session (IC Restricted/13) is in Conference files, lot 60 D 627, CF 278. The minutes indicate that the meeting convened at 3 p.m. and adjourned at 7:15 p.m. The minutes are also printed in Conférence de Genève, pp. 291–299. The proposal made by the Soviet Delegation, Indochina Document IC/30, June 14, is in Conference files, lot 60 D 627, CF 279A.

    A brief summary of the meeting was transmitted to the Department in telegram Secto 439, June 14. (396.1 GE/6–1454)

  2. Dated June 14, p. 1143.
  3. Infra .