Memorandum of Conversation, by the Adviser to the United States Delegation (Bonsal)
- Mr. Tep Phan, Cambodian Foreign Minister
- Mr. Sam Sary, Member of Cambodian Delegation
- Mr. Son Sann, Member of Cambodian Delegation
- Mr. Philip W. Bonsal, U.S. Delegation
- Military Conversations between Cambodia and Vietminh
I called on the Cambodian Delegation this morning in place of Ambassador Heath who had had to leave for Paris.
Mr. Tep Phan told me that Mr. Chou En-lai had called him in yesterday and had expressed the wish of the Chinese Government to be helpful in getting the Cambodians into contact with the Vietminh for the purpose of proceeding with the military talks to which the conference agreed at its June 19 session. Mr. Tep Phan is awaiting instructions from his government regarding the personnel of the Cambodian representation, the point at which a meeting might take place and other details. It appears that Chou En-lai has invited the Cambodians to have dinner with him tonight. Mr. Tep Phan understands there is a possibility that some Vietminh representatives may also be there. He asked me for my advice as to whether he should go. I replied that this was a decision which he would of course wish to take himself. I said that personally it seemed to me that there must obviously be official contacts between the Vietminh and Cambodia but that it seemed asking a great deal, under the circumstances, to ask the Cambodians to mingle socially with the Vietminh who are active, unprovoked, invaders of Cambodia and killers of Cambodian people.
Mr. Tep Phan is worried about the future attitudes of the Communists with regard to his country. We agreed that the resolution accepted on June 19 was susceptible of two interpretations. It might be a general document which would permit the Communists to reassert various unacceptable points of view regarding the so-called resistance movements and their right to occupy certain areas in Cambodia. On the other hand, the terms were sufficiently general so that the other side could abandon their intentions regarding resistance movements without any further spelling out of this matter. If they do indeed intend to abandon that position it is obvious that it would be easier for them to do so without a specific admission of intent. We agreed that the position on this should very rapidly be clarified.[Page 1208]
Mr. Tep Phan told me that he expected to divide his time between Geneva and Paris. He said that he was most anxious to secure certain arms for the Cambodian army and that he was rather discouraged at the difficulties he had encountered. He said for instance that there was an order for 500 rifles to be supplied from the Saint Etienne factory which had been pending for six or seven months and which Mr. Tep Phan hopes to activate in the course of his next trip to France.
Mr. Tep Phan asked me about the possibility of getting arms from the US. I said that I was not up to date with regard to the details of such conversations as there have been on this matter. I said that I was aware of the fact that General O’Daniel and Mr. McClintock had been in Phnom Penh recently and had had some discussions with the Cambodian authorities. I said in this connection that if in fact the relatively favorable dispositions, which some people believe the Communists have now adopted with regard to Cambodia, are to find expression, it would seem advisable to make the path for such expression relatively smooth. I repeated that we should very shortly ascertain their real intentions.
Mr. Tep Phan agreed to keep the US Delegation closely informed of all developments.