396.1 GE/6–1854: Telegram

Fifteenth Restricted Session on Indochina, Geneva, June 18, 3 p.m.: The United States Delegation to the Department of State


Secto 470. Repeated information Paris 457, London 302, Saigon 178, Tokyo 148, Phnom Penh, Vientiane unnumbered, Moscow 133. Tokyo for CINCFE. Department pass Defense. Following is text of statement by Robertson at fifteenth Indochina restricted session Friday June 18:

“Proposals on how to settle the problems of Cambodia and Laos have been put forward by the representatives of Cambodia and Laos on June 8 and June 16, and by the Chinese Communist delegation on June 16. The US delegation has given these proposals careful consideration.

The proposals of the Cambodian and Laotian delegations are clear, simple and forthright. They both provide for what is obviously the essential element of a just settlement—the withdrawal of Viet Minh forces from the two countries.

The Chinese Communist proposal, on the other hand, is not clear on the question of the withdrawal of Viet Minh forces from Laos and Cambodia and further seems to contemplate that local Communist forces not in those countries, but that some provision should be made for them in any settlement. For these and for the reason that other provisions lack precision and definiteness, we are unable to accept the Chinese Communist proposal.

I do not believe that we will ever find a more appropriate time for good faith to be manifested than during our talks this afternoon. The head of the Viet Minh delegation, as well as the leader of the Soviet delegation, has expressed his confidence that this good faith exists. If we are to accept these protestations, if we wish the world to give any credence to these assertions, we must have a concrete demonstration before we can make progress toward an agreement in which that element plays a part. I can think of no better demonstration than for the Viet Minh to admit the presence of its regular and irregular military [Page 1186] units in Cambodia and Laos and to agree to their prompt withdrawal.

It is not possible in fact to deny that these troops are in Cambodia and Laos. A number of these units have been positively identified. Among them, according to recent information, are troops of the Viet Minh 325th Division which normally operates in Central Vietnam and the 304th Division which had previously operated in the area south of the Red River Delta. These units include the 436th Battalion of the 101st Infantry Regiment either in Cambodia or withdrawn from Cambodia to Laos, three battalions of the 66th Infantry Regiment in Laos, one battalion of the 101st Infantry Regiment in Laos, and two battalions of the 18th Infantry Regiment in Laos. Previous unit identifications include what was probably the entire 308th Infantry Division which invaded northern Laos in January and February this year, but was later withdrawn to take part in the battle at Dien Bien Phu. The units I have just named do not complete the list of invading units, but they should be sufficient to indicate the magnitude of this aggression.

Mr. Pham Van Dong, in his speech of May 12, admitted the presence in Cambodia and Laos of armed Vietnamese, but claimed that they were residents of those two countries who had taken up arms against the legal governments in support of what he is pleased to call the Pathet Lao and Khmer ‘resistance governments’. This admission represents some progress, but what he failed to admit was that these armed Vietnamese are under the orders of and totally allied with the Viet Minh forces across the border in Vietnam.

It is now time to return to reality for an honest discussion of what may be done to end the hostilities in Cambodia and Laos. Fortunately, the path to be followed has been clearly marked in the proposals of the Cambodian and the Laos delegations. The US delegation does not see any justification for further delay in working out a simple and effective solution based on these proposals.”