The United States Delegation to the Department of State
Secto 517. Repeated information Paris 493, London 321, Saigon 206. Following account of Mendes-France–Chou En-lai interview yesterday at Bern was given Bonsal by Roux who was present. Chauvel who returned to Paris with Mendes-France, plans to furnish written summary to US and British Ambassadors Paris this morning.
Mendes-France had with him Chauvel, Roux, Col. Guillerma and an interpreter. Chou En-lai was accompanied by Li Ko Nung [Li Ke-nung] (Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs), by Director of European Affairs and two others plus an interpreter. Conversation cordial in tone. There was no mention at any time of Franco-Chinese relations or of recognition by France of Chinese Communist Government. Chou En-lai carefully avoided giving impression he considered new French policy in making and he referred several times to earlier interviews with Bidault.
Chou En-lai stated military aspects must be disposed of before other aspects can be taken up. A cessation of hostilities is primary goal. Chou En-lai hopes Ministers can return to Geneva as soon as possible to pass on recommendations of military representatives for all three countries.
With regard to Laos and Cambodia, although Chou En-lai stated there would have to be regrouping areas for national resistance forces, he said this could be handled by international commissions and that in any case governing thought should be that of reestablishing unity of Laos and Cambodia. If those countries truly support their present royal governments, that is their affair. A suitable place in national life must however be found for resistance elements.
Chou En-lai referred to dinner he had given for delegates of Laos, Cambodia and Viet Minh, stating that they had all spoken French. [Page 1234] He spoke sympathetically of French Union. He added that there could be no American bases in Laos and Cambodia but was not violent on this point. There was no specific discussion of present French Union bases. Chou En-lai said that Chinese attitude on these matters would not be altered by threats to which Chinese would not yield. At same time he emphasized reasonable nature of Chinese position.
With regard to Vietnam, Chou En-lai stated that just as Laos and Cambodia had established contact with Viet Minh, there should be similar contacts between Vietnam and Viet Minh Government. He suggested that French authorities could persuade Vietnamese Government to engage in these contacts. He criticized Bao Dai‘s position on this subject as having been too intransigent.
Mendes-France then said that in order to be able to influence Vietnamese, French must know what Viet Minh have in mind in connection with military settlement. He said he was seeing General Ely June 24 and would see that French military delegates have precise instructions. Chou En-lai rejoined that he was glad to hear this and that he would try to see that Viet Minh also have instructions. He repeated that within period of three weeks provided by conference resolution, there must be progress which will permit Ministers to return to Geneva.
Chou En-lai made no reply to Mendes-France remarks that Viet Minh claims in military field seemed excessive.
With re to military regrouping of zones, there was no specific exchange of ideas. There was no mention of status of Tonkin for example.
With re to problem of international control, Chou En-lai took position that this could not really be settled until after agreed military dispositions become apparent. It will then become clear just what the task of control will be.
Roux informed us that Mendes-France is seeing Ngo Dinh Diem this morning and will presumably report to him on conversations. French here are doing likewise with Laotian, Cambodian and Vietnamese delegates.