Conference files, lot 60 D 627, CF 322

Memorandum by the Adviser to the United States Delegation (Bonsal) to the Special Adviser to the Delegation (Heath)1


I saw Jacques Roux at lunch today.

Roux believes that Mr. Molotov’s proposal yesterday, in addition to the rather vague “concession” regarding a majority vote on the NNSC, indicates the possibility of a further concession regarding composition. Roux believes that the Communists would be willing to eliminate either Poland or Czechoslovakia, probably Czechoslovakia, and accept instead a European neutral such as Norway. Roux himself would like if possible to get Canada as the fourth member in place of Czechoslovakia.
Roux believes that the Vietminh are definitely seeking partition at this time, at least on a military basis. He supports this view by citing the original Vietminh proposal for exchanges of territory and by referring to the fact that Molotov’s proposal yesterday refers to the demarcation line rather than to several demarcation lines as would be the case if several zones were contemplated.
Roux wonders whether it is not time to refer the questions regarding the whole subject of controls to a committee of delegates of the principals to the conference who could perhaps reach certain agreements to be referred back to the conference. I said that I did not think that until we had made more progress on the matter of fundamental principles to which we adhere in regard to this matter that it would be particularly useful to have those principles discussed at a lower level. I said that I [Page 1150] thought such a proposal would merely play into the evident Communist desire to prolong the conference without reaching decisions.
Mr. Roux wondered whether the time had not come to convey to the Communists and specifically to Mr. Molotov a “discreet warning” that our side is only disposed to continue talking at Geneva on the basis that the situation in the field does not change. Such a warning would be unspecific, i.e., it would not involve any spelling out of how, where or when our side would react to further Vietminh aggressive moves. I said that I thought this idea was worth looking into. I added that we should certainly not be put into a position of conferring at Geneva and doing nothing else while the Communists improve their position in the field.
Roux had nothing to say regarding current military conversations or regarding any other possible Franco-Vietminh contacts. He said, however, that he was convinced on the basis of information derived by the Vietnamese Delegation from Vietnamese fence-sitters who have been in contact with the Vietminh that the latter are indeed anxious for a cessation of hostilities (on their own terms) and that they fear the development of Chinese control over their actions, present and future. (This analysis does not seem particularly sound to me—at any rate I doubt whether Vietminh actions and dispositions are determined in accordance with this sort of consideration.) Roux indicated that while present Vietminh troop dispositions both north and south of the delta indicate the possibility of military plan to cut the Hanoi-Haiphong line there is no certainty that such is their intention at this time.
I gathered later from Maurice Ferro who is off to Paris this afternoon that the Communist journalists at the Maison de la Presse are spreading the report that after the Secretary’s speeches of last week, there is absolutely no prospect of any imminent US armed intervention in Indochina and that the Communists therefore have to worry only about the French expeditionary corps resistance to their further advance. It is being said that until after the November elections the US will not move in Indochina regardless of what happens there.
  1. In a note from Heath to Smith, June 16, attached to the source text, Heath wrote: “Mr. Robertson suggested that you read this because it may provide clues on future Soviet conference tactics. He particularly recommends you read the final paragraph.”