Memorandum of Conversation, by the Special Adviser to the United States Delegation ( Heath )
- Walter Bedell Smith, Under Secretary of State
- Donald E. Heath, Ambassador to Cambodia and Vietnam
- H. E. Tep Phann, Foreign Minister and Chief of Cambodian Delegation
- H. E. Son Sann, Former President of the National Assembly, Former Minister
- H. E. Sam Sary, Former Minister
The Under Secretary made a good-bye call on the Cambodian Foreign Minister this morning.1 Tep Phann explained the purposes of his reservation to Molotov’s amendment to the French proposal whereby not only foreign armed forces should leave Cambodian and Laotian territory in the event of an armistice but all foreign military personnel as well. He said Cambodia not only desired to keep French military instructors and advisers to build up its army to defense strength but would like to get other foreign military advisers, particularly American instructors. Cambodia was aware of the remarkable record of the Americans in building up the South Korean army. The Under Secretary said it was a record of which we were proud. In a space of three years we had provided South Korean Government with 20 first-class divisions equal and in some cases perhaps even superior to the American divisions stationed in Korea.
The Under Secretary mentioned an unconfirmed report received this morning that India was preparing to recognize Laos and Cambodia, [Page 1206] which he hoped would prove true. Tep Phann said they had talked with Krishna Menon when the latter was in Geneva and found him extremely uninformed about Cambodia and the development of its complete independence. He had no knowledge of India’s intention regarding recognition. He had also talked with Vice President Garcia of the Philippine Delegation but found him also uninformed on Cambodia and dubious of the reality of Cambodian independence. The Under Secretary said that he was shortly calling on Garcia and would urge that the Philippines accord recognition to Cambodia and the other associated states.
The Under Secretary then referred to a long talk he had with Molotov two days ago. He had gathered from that talk that the Communists were inclined to accept Cambodian conditions and not ask for either temporary or permanent division of its territory. In case of Laos, however, the Under Secretary feared that the Communists were going to press for a sizeable slice of Laotian soil. He suggested that Cambodia should support Laos against such demands. The Cambodian Foreign Minister did not reply directly to this suggestion and pointed out there was some difference in the situation of Cambodia and Laos since the Cambodians exercised the high military command whereas the command in Laos was still in French hands. He went on to say that he was very skeptical of any results from the staff talks fearing that instead of the Vietminh command presenting itself for these talks the Vietminh would put forward representatives of the phony “free Cambodian” government. Tep Phann said that in this case the Cambodian government would refuse to start staff talks. The Under Secretary said he approved that stand but it would probably be impossible to keep the Vietminh command from adding a “free Cambodian” to the staff talks of the delegation on the pretext that he was a military officer.
The Under Secretary said that the more conciliatory attitude of the Communist delegations towards Cambodia’s proposals gave him some concern. Obviously the Communist tactic was to work toward a solution of the problem of Cambodia to prevent that country from making an appeal to the United Nations an eventuality which the Communists feared. Also the Communists feared to put forward too harsh terms to Cambodia and Laos because of the sympathy for these two countries entertained in India and in Burma. The Communists were not disposed to irritate India because although militarily weak, India enjoyed great moral stature and influence in Asia.
At the end of the interview Son Sann put forward a request that the United States furnish a training mission and arms to build up the Cambodian defense force. The Under Secretary said he felt the United States would be disposed to consider such a request.
- Under Secretary Smith departed Geneva for Paris and Washington on the afternoon of June 20. Ambassador U. Alexis Johnson became Head of the U.S. Delegation.↩