396.1 GE/6–1754: Telegram
Fourteenth Restricted Session on Indochina, Geneva, June 16, 3 p.m.: The United States Delegation to the Department of State1
Secto 461. Repeated information Paris 448, London 296, Saigon 174, Tokyo 145, Moscow 132, Phnom Penh, Vientiane unnumbered. Tokyo pass CINCFE. Department pass Defense. Fourteenth restricted session, Wednesday, June 16.
Cambodian delegate referred to his June 8 proposal (Secto 367)2 and recalled essential principle of evacuation Viet Minh troops from Cambodia. He rehearsed fact of invasion by regular troops in April 1954. In describing functions of international commission in Cambodia he said first task would be concerned with evacuation regular and irregular Viet Minh troops, second with its exchange and release of prisoners of war and civilian internees, and third with the prevention of all foreign activities prejudicial to peace in Cambodia.
Cambodian delegate made point he had accepted simultaneity of cessation of hostilities in all three states and also meeting of military representatives in Geneva and on the spot. He also stressed Cambodian readiness to make commitment that Cambodia will not admit foreign troops or permit foreign bases on her territory or make increases in her military establishment beyond requirements of efficient national defense.
Cambodian delegate again denied existence of so-called resistance movement. He reiterated independence of Cambodia and repeated earlier statements re loyalty to King, elections and constitutional processes. He stressed Cambodia’s lack of desire to intervene in affairs of neighbors.
Cambodian delegate concluded with following statements: “Let Cambodia not be reproached tomorrow for seeking to defend itself by no matter what means when justice has been refused her and everything has been done to prevent her from living in a state of neutrality, freedom and peace at home.”[Page 1158]
The Laotian delegate took generally similar line. He stressed national unity of Laotian people, democratic conditions and complete independence. He referred to presence of Viet Minh invaders known to all objective observers. He submitted a six-point proposal involving (1) evacuation Viet Minh regular and irregular troops; (2) concentration of French Union troops at bases established in Franco-Laotian agreements; (3) disarmament of remaining irregular troops with departure of Vietnamese citizens and granting of all civic rights to Laotians; (4) freeing of prisoners of war and civil internees; (5) a system of international control to be applied also to supervising the frontiers; and (6) a meeting of representatives of the military commands at Geneva, these representatives to create, if they so desire, special military committees to coordinate troop movements on the spot. (Text transmitted in Secto 457.3)
Chou En-lai then referred to his proposal of May 27 (Secto 3264) and to agreement of May 31 based on Eden proposal (Secto 3475). He recalled that he had stated on several occasions that conditions not same in each of three countries of Indochina; there are differences between all three although they cannot be disassociated in clear-cut manner. He then expressed following views:
- First, in accordance with May 29 agreement, there must be early and simultaneous cessation of hostilities throughout Indochina. Examination of situation in Laos and Cambodia must necessarily proceed on this principle.
- Second, [garbled group] in the agreement of May 29, representatives of the two commands should now examine the situation in Laos and Cambodia so far as the disposition of forces at the time of the cessation of hostilities is concerned.6 Chou En-lai pointed out that the representatives of the two commands have been meeting with regard to Vietnam since June 2 and that they should now study both in Geneva and on the spot the disposition of forces in Laos and Cambodia. This study must take into account (a) that opposing native forces in Laos and Cambodia include the armies under resistance governments in the two countries, and (b) that all foreign forces must be withdrawn in accordance with the DRV proposal of May 10.
- Third, from date of cessation of hostilities there must be prevention of introduction into Indochina from outside of all kinds of military personnel and material. This principle must apply to Laos and Cambodia also. Chou En-lai stated he had noted with understanding Cambodian’s [Page 1159]statement of June 8 recalling Cambodian requirements of arms for defense. This would apply also to Laos. This question requires further consideration. At same time Chou En-lai made clear that if peace is to be restored in Indochina, no foreign country must be permitted to establish bases in the territory of any of the three countries of Indochina after the armistice.
- Fourth, the principle of international supervision applicable to Laos and Cambodia seems to be generally accepted. However, special conditions there are to be taken into account in applying international supervision.
- Fifth, there seems to be no problem involved in the release and exchange of prisoners of war and civil internees.
- Sixth, there should be no persecution of persons having collaborated with either party during the war.
Chou En-lai then submitted proposal transmitted as Secto 458.7
DRV delegate then spoke at some length on necessity recognizing importance national liberation movements Laos and Cambodia; he maintained movements, based on past history and glories these countries, had been active for many years subsequent to French conquest and colonization. Even after France had entrenched itself in Indochina people continued fight for independence. After defeat Japanese occupation Viet Minh, Khmer, and Pathet-Lao Republic formed. French tried to break down these resistance movements with arms and then endeavored entice them with pseudo-independence and democratic reforms. Aim US interventionists was to take over from French colonialists. DRV representatives respected and saluted these liberation movements and wished to do everything possible to help them. He refuted “tendentious” assertions that there were external influences (Viet Minh) in Laos and Cambodia. When imperialism and colonialism exists resistance comes from within and could not be imposed artificially from without. He then added that he supported Chinese resolution and expressed hope that negotiations in Geneva and on spot would take place.
DRV delegate then referred to his May 10 proposals and said question restoring peace Vietnam necessitated discussion political and military issues. Military discussions have shown some progress here at Geneva and time had come to take up political matters. For this reason, he submitted proposal transmitted as Secto 459.8
French delegate (Chauvel) expressed pleasure that DRV delegate had not objected to Chinese proposals. He would later comment on DRV proposals but wished now limit his remarks to Laos and Cambodia. Communists appeared concerned re bases these countries. Proposals made by Laotian and Cambodian delegates should give assurances [Page 1160]on this score. When Viet Minh troops withdrawn no foreign troops would remain Laos and Cambodia. The Cambodians had said that if there were no danger of aggression there would be no appeal for foreign troops. What more guarantees do Communists desire? Re Laos, France had agreement with military commitments. When Viet Minh troops withdrawn French troops would be reduced to very minimum needed to maintain security and would be subject international control. France ready accept these controls. If proposals Laos and Cambodia accepted adequate guarantees would exist in military fields.
Re statements made by Communist side concerning resistance movement, French delegate felt that Laos and Cambodia statement had given satisfactory answer. If hostilities cease, free elections would be held these countries with neutral commission to supervise them. Khmer and Pathet-Lao people would have same civic rights and could take their place in society. French delegate associated acceptance Laos and Cambodia proposals which he believed would bring peace and security to area. He continued that he had listened with care and read with interest Chinese proposal which contained many useful elements. He would comment on them at later date. He surprised to hear today DRV proposal, it being his understanding that subject Laos and Cambodia would be discussed this meeting. He felt tabling this proposal was endeavor to mix up everything. He was not critical of proposal itself but wished to take things up in methodical order.
US delegate, though inscribed to speak, stated thought it better to limit remarks to few words in view lateness hour. He said he listened with interest to Chinese statement which seemed to him restrained and reasonable. He could not say same thing regarding DRV statement which was not reasonable or restrained. He proposed that conference return to subject Laos and Cambodia. In closing, he remarked that at first glance there appeared to be certain points in Chinese proposal which might be agreed to and others which seemed to him similar to points proposed by Laotian and Cambodian delegates.
Soviet delegate pointed out that conference in considering restoration peace in Indochina gave immediate attention cease-fire Vietnam which was main theater operations. However, entire area had many similar characteristics and he could not agree that situation Vietnam different from Laos and Cambodia although latter two had certain peculiarities which must be taken into account. All three states struggling for freedom and independence. He believed re-establishment peace all three Associated States could not but be related to desire those people for peace, liberty, and freedom. In examining question restoration peace Laos and Cambodia certain difficulties had arisen. Conference had heard representatives from only one of the belligerents [Page 1161]and had not heard from the resistance movements. Soviet delegate considered Cambodian proposal of June 8 as one-sided and cited paragraph two as example. Same thing could be said of today’s Laotian proposal. He believed Chinese proposal covered all main questions and took into account desires of representatives Laos and Cambodia. It might form basis for decision this conference. DRV proposals took into account measures, if not taken, would mean no cease-fire Laos and Cambodia. If accepted cease-fire could be agreed upon. He therefore supported DRV proposal.
Soviet delegate then referred to his proposal June 14 regarding composition, functions neutral commission and mixed commissions. He continued that he would like to meet desires other delegates and therefore suggested that international neutral commission be composed of five, not four members, and that Indonesia, for example, be added. India would have chairmanship and other members would be Poland, Czechoslovakia, Pakistan. Another variant might be a more restricted international commission composed of India (chairmanship), Poland, and Indonesia or “some other Asiatic power”. He thought agreement might be reached on one these proposals. He again endorsed his June 14 proposal adding Soviet delegate considered entirely unacceptable suggestion that mixed commission be subordinate to international commission.
Vietnam delegate stated he felt Laos and Cambodia proposals most reasonable on which he would speak at later date. He noted conference had agreed deal first with military questions Vietnam and he felt that much confusion would be caused by discussing military and political questions at same time. More reasonable complete military talks then enter political field. He still supported his May 13 proposals and when political discussions were initiated he would make his views known thereon. He maintained DRV statements regarding independence Vietnam had no basis whatsoever and pointed out he had communicated to conference treaties of independence recently initiated Paris. He again maintained that elections Vietnam should be under supervision United Nations.
UK delegate started to close meeting stating discussion had been important and many proposals tabled. He suggested that this might be studied carefully and views exchanged. French delegate interjected with statement he wished to submit still another proposal on procedures re controls (see Secto 460).9 UK closed meeting with suggestion that all proposals be studied carefully and delegates meet Friday, June 18, to discuss them.
A set of minutes of this session (IC Restricted/14) is in Conference files, lot 60 D 627, CF 278. The minutes indicate that the meeting convened at 3 p.m. and adjourned at 7:30 p.m. The minutes are also printed in Conférence de Genève, pp. 300–310. The speech by Tep Phan, Indochina Document IC/32, June 16, and proposals made by Laos, the Viet Minh, and the People’s Republic of China, Indochina Documents IC/31, IC/33, and IC/35, respectively, June 16–17, are in Conference files, lot 60 D 627, CF 279A. A proposal made by the French Delegation, June 16, is in Conference files, lot 60 D 627, CF 283.
A brief summary of the meeting was transmitted to the Department of State in telegram Secto 462, June 17. (396.1 GE/6–1754)↩
- Dated June 3, p. 1014.↩
- Dated May 27, p. 947.↩
- Dated May 29, p. 975.↩
- The actual text of Chou En-lai’s remarks, taken from the verbatim minutes of the session, was as follows: “Second, the agreement on May 29 provides that representatives of the two commands should study the disposition of forces to be made upon the cessation of hostilities, beginning with the question of regrouping areas in Vietnam. Now we should examine the problem of bringing about an armistice in Laos and Cambodia on the basis of this principle, as already agreed upon.”↩
- Dated June 17, p. 1162.↩
- Dated June 17, p. 1163.↩
- Dated June 17, p. 1164.↩