396.1 GE/6–2254: Telegram

Seventeenth Restricted Session on Indochina, Geneva, June 22, 3 p.m.: The United States Delegation to the Department of State1


Secto 504. Moscow 144 repeated information Paris 486, Saigon 199, London 319, Tokyo 158, Phnom Penh, Vientiane. Department pass Defense. Tokyo pass CINCFE. Seventeenth Indochina restricted session on Tuesday June 22, with Novikov (USSR) presiding. Chauvel opened by raising question international control for Cambodia and Laos. Referred to list of questions prepared for discussion (Secto 4972) but decided withhold them pending implementation decision June 19 on military talks.

Denying Communist allegations that French believed international control should apply only Vietnam, Chauvel stated international supervision in Cambodia and Laos should apply to:

Evacuation of foreign troops;
Liberation prisoners of war and civil internees;
Guarantee of territorial integrity and concentration of remaining French troops (in Laos) to agreed bases;
Control over entry of arms necessary for national armies to assure defense.

Structure of international control would resemble that for Vietnam. Central commissions situated in country capitals and units in countryside and frontier areas with necessary material support and ability [Page 1216] make investigations on request or on own initiative. Commissions could ask for creation joint commissions. Should be on spot to function from moment cessation hostilities.

Chauvel emphasized majority decision by commission. It would report to guarantors (conference powers) failure to obey decisions or anything threatening renewal hostilities.

Composition should be similar but not necessarily same as for Vietnam. Entire problem in practical aspects can be studied as whole for three states, but differences in function and structure should be noted. After certain fundamental issues agreed, French delegation would submit proposal for discussion. Raised question of turning over technical aspects for expert study, but conference should continue consideration special problems Cambodia and Laos.

Next China (Li Ko-neng) noted various views on international control, expressed belief sincere negotiation could resolve differences. He recalled various Communist statements this subject and particularly Molotov June 14 proposal (Secto 4423), which he suggested as basis discussion. He supported proposal and amendment of June 16 (Secto 4614) providing for five or three-power commission, including Indonesia, with India as chairman. Acknowledged special conditions Cambodia and Laos. Then emphasized that since two parties primarily responsible for successful cease-fire the joint commissions should be chiefly responsible for control. Hoped for rapid accomplishment of definition terms of reference and relations between joint and international commissions.

USDel followed with statement Secto 503.5

UK (Lord Reading) took floor to express hope and belief that Chinese were right, that differences could be settled, but noted several awkward problems. Although conciliatory and almost apologetic in words and manner, he then effectively attacked Molotov proposal. Referring frequently his agreement with USDel criticism, he pointed out ineffectiveness of subordination international commission to joint bodies. Frankly had to ask Soviet delegation for real reason behind this unworkable scheme.

Reading again supported Colombo powers and then turned to question majority or unanimous decisions by international commission. Said Molotov proposal would invite breakdown at critical moments while arguing whether any given incident required joint or unanimous decision.

[Page 1217]

He hoped drafters Soviet proposal would not object to amendments other delegations thought necessary. He ended with reference to Chou En-lai statement that decisions difficult without exact knowledge of what is to be supervised. Hoped therefore positions could be kept flexible pending submission reports by military representatives.

Dong (VM) spoke after recess and referred to study commission proposed by French delegate on subject of control. Dong proposed conference should adopt following principles to assist committee:

Correct interpretation of armistice rests with belligerent parties.
Joint commission should not be subordinate to “neutral armistice supervisory commission” (Dong reiterated familiar arguments that neutral commission should have no right to impose decisions on joint commission, that it is not possible to give neutral commission power of decision without providing it with coercive means to implement its decisions, and that differences should be referred to conference powers.)
Soviet proposal of June 14 re powers, functions and rules of procedure for a neutral commission should be used as basis for discussion and linked to question of composition neutral commission as suggested by Soviet delegate on June 16.

Cambodian delegate (Sam Sary) then took floor and stated that his delegate shared views expressed by Chauvel, but believed joint commission for Cambodia should be different from those for Vietnam and Laos although composition could be same and commissions could cooperate with each other. In referring to Communist Chinese suggestion that Soviet proposal be used as basis for discussion, Cambodian delegate said he did not reject everything in Soviet proposal although it applied only to Vietnam. He stated that since conference has recognized separate problem of Cambodia and Laos, conference should apply same approach to problem of control in Laos and Cambodia as distinguished from Vietnam. In concluding Cambodian delegate said the same remarks apply to the statement made earlier by Dong regarding question of composition of commission.

Vietnam delegate (Buu Kinh) referred to earlier expression views of his delegate June 9 on question of control, said line of reasoning guided by adherence to two principles: Impartiality and efficiency of control commission. These he reaffirmed while noting that the Soviet proposal lacked them. He then emphasized that role of joint commission should be limited to execution and implementation, and that one side cannot be both judge and party at interest, situation which would be inherent if joint commission were dominant over neutral commission. Concluded by saying that control body must be independent of both sides and that United Nations Organization best possible [Page 1218] one to guarantee impartiality, efficiency and technical ability to carry out task.

Chauvel (France) then spoke extemporaneously noting that conference had before it “abundant crop of proposals”, referred to valid questions posed today by US delegate and noted statement of UK delegate which, he said, conformed to his own views that difficulties arise from role of unanimity as his three years experience in United Nations Security Council testified. Referring to Cambodian intervention Chauvel said he saw no conflict between his and Cambodian views, stating that there was definite advantage in having central control commission for each country adding that he did not contemplate joint control system as in case of Vietnam, but rather liaison parties to supervise certain practical matters on a temporary basis (Chauvel remarks at this point were rather vague).

In course of further somewhat diffuse remarks Chauvel made following points: Some safeguards to insure carrying out of armistice terms necessary since unlikely two belligerent parties will work together following hostilities in spirit of complete cooperation; joint control commission should be charged with implementation of agreement as distinguished from role of mediation and control which must be provided by higher and neutral body when difficulties arise; speaking of relations between joint and neutral commissions question of which is subordinate not helpful since it is not necessary to set up tribunals but rather bodies suited for specific tasks they have to perform; conference should discuss what subjects would be suitable for each of these two commissions; i.e., in Vietnam question of regrouping of forces would be one for joint commission whereas control of entry of arms and equipment would be matter for neutral commission.

In concluding Chauvel suggested that conference set up committee of experts from each delegation to examine and compare various proposals on control put forward to date, and advise conference of results of this examination. Committee would not necessarily exist for duration of conference but would report every 2 or 3 days concerning questions raised from one meeting to another.

Laotian delegate (Ourot Souvainavong [Souphanouvong]) then somewhat confusingly proposed that the two chairmen, following traditional procedure, meet to reach decision on French suggestion concerning committee of experts.

Lord Reading (UK) asked for the floor and stated that although he was willing to discuss anything with his co-chairman he felt that in the past such discussions pertained to procedural rather than substantive subjects, and expressed the view that there were too many [Page 1219] differences of opinion to hope that two chairmen could reach solution. (None of delegates subsequently referred to Chauvel’s suggestion.)

Novikov (USSR) speaking as Soviet delegate, contributed nothing new by touching on following points: Soviet, PRC and DRV Democrats consider United Nations unacceptable in control function; Colombo powers “truly neutral” but are not only neutral states in world; Soviet delegate has shown spirit of conciliation by proposing commission composed of 4 countries, then by suggesting chairman have decisive vote on number of questions, and then by proposing commission be reduced to 3 countries or raised to 5; if two sides in Indochina want to maintain peace it will be maintained, and no commission can thwart resolve of one side to resume hostilities; decisions of neutral commission should not be imposed on joint commission; no one has answered question how to make joint commission submit to decisions of neutral commission; USDel has gone so far as to propose that international commission have organs on territories of both sides thereby infringing sovereignty “both Vietnam and DRV”, and raising question US motives; one commission should be set up for all Indochina rather than one for each of three countries.

In concluding Novikov remarked that Kuznetsov (Soviet Deputy Foreign Minister) would arrive Geneva tomorrow, will study all proposals and may wish make statement.

Since no more speakers inscribed Novikov read usual communiqué asking delegates when next meeting should be set. After short round of discussion it was decided to set June 24 as date of next meeting with understanding that after consultation of co-chairmen meeting might be postponed.

  1. A set of minutes of this session (IC Restricted/17) is in Conference files, lot 60 D 627, CF 279. The minutes indicate that the meeting convened at 3 p.m. and adjourned at 7:20 p.m. The minutes are also printed in Conférence de Genève, pp. 328–338. Message transmitted in two sections.
  2. Dated June 21, p. 1211.
  3. Dated June 14, p. 1143.
  4. Dated June 17, p. 1157.
  5. Infra.