396.1 GE/6–2554: Telegram

Eighteenth Restricted Session on Indochina. Geneva, June 25, 3 p.m.: The United States Delegation to the Department of State1


Secto 529. Repeated information Paris 506, Saigon 217, London 327, Tokyo 161, Moscow 147, Phnom Penh, Vientiane unnumbered. Tokyo for CINCFE. Department pass Defense. Eighteenth Indochina Restricted Session on Friday, June 25, with Lamb (UK) presiding.

Cambodian delegate (Sam Sary) spoke first briefly and reiterated Cambodian position that control commission for Cambodia and Laos should be different from that for Vietnam even though its composition could be same. He stressed that his position was based on practical considerations since if there were but one commission for all of Indochina with its headquarters, for example, in Hanoi, contacts with its subcommittees would be difficult.

[Page 1243]

Chauvel (France) spoke next on the subject of relations between the joint and neutral commissions. Rather than speaking on whether joint commission should be subordinate to neutral commission, he thought it would be possible to consider these two bodies as operating side by side but in different fields, and that conference should try to decide upon what kinds of activity each should perform. He referred to Dong‘s (Viet Minh) statement that effective implementation of armistice agreement depended upon the two sides, this being the case, certain provisions of armistice would apply to each side separately, and certain other provisions, i.e., regrouping of forces, would require joint action. In its tasks the two sides must be helped by some control system, he said.

The task of the control body, he continued, should be to supervise implementation of agreement, either on its own initiative or on request of two sides, to make recommendation when differences occur regarding implementation, and thus to play mediatory role. Control body, he explained, should be link between implementation of armistice provisions and guarantee of agreement itself.

Chauvel then asked rhetorical question, would it be possible define different tasks for each commission? The control commission, he suggested, should act in cases of disagreement between two sides or violation armistice provisions by one side. He made analogy herewith contract between two parties which often has arbitration clause, and when both parties sign they accept principles and consequences of arbitration.

Chauvel next referred to what some delegates referred to as compulsory character of decisions of neutral body. Some delegates, he said, contend implementation armistice agreement would depend goodwill both sides. Even if this were so, he said, there might be disagreements on interpretation. Here decision of neutral body would be necessary. French delegation does not believe it necessary for neutral body to have forces at its disposal. If one side refuses decisions of neutral body then this is case for guarantor powers.

Pursuing this point further, Chauvel said it would be useful to determine what kinds of situations would be decided by neutral body. He thought in ordinary cases neutral body could make recommendations by a majority vote but that in serious cases, such as those threatening peace and security, then neutral commission could refer matter to guarantor powers. Such report could be made unanimously or with majority and minority reports. If one side refused to implement commission’s recommendation, “one would not appeal to the police”, but report of such refusal would be sent to guarantor powers. These remarks, [Page 1244] Chauvel stressed, were just illustrative in effort to find areas within which joint and neutral commissions would function.

In conclusion, Chauvel stated that, since both commissions would have different tasks they should function in different locations, details of which could be specially examined. He referred to Cambodian delegate’s idea that there should be separate commission for Cambodia and said that in his view there should be central body in each of three countries, but that tasks would apply to whole area, and that there might be a coordinating body.

Kuznetsov (USSR) then asked for the floor and referred to the large number of proposals on questions of functions and composition control commission emphasizing that the conference has expressed many points of view. He charged some delegates with being unwilling to help find common point of view, with putting obstacles in the way of a solution, and with distorting Soviet proposals. He referred to Soviet proposals as thoughtful, detailed, and helpful and wanted to make certain remarks in light of attacks on them made by other delegates.

Principle behind Soviet proposal, he said, was to facilitate establishment contact between both belligerent sides regarding all questions including supervision implementation of armistice. Soviet delegate, he contended, thinks both sides should be “full masters of their internal affairs”, and that other states should not interfere in these affairs but should help two sides and render assistance only when necessary. This why Soviet delegate proposed that mixed commission not be subordinate to international commission.

Some delegates, he continued, either misunderstood or distorted Soviet proposal and assumed Soviet delegate meant that two commissions should have same functions. On contrary, Soviet delegate believes commissions should work along parallel lines on basis cooperation, but should not perform same tasks. Conference should determine principles concerning what tasks would be performed by each commission. Soviet proposals, he insisted, conformed to principle laid down by conference to effect that two sides be permitted to work out conditions of cessation hostilities.

Kuznetsov then cited the successful operation military armistice commission in Korea as proof that mixed commission not subordinate to neutral commission was practical, and accused US delegate of attempting to make Korean example look bad. The NNSC does not issue orders to MAC but cooperation exists and hostilities have been stopped for a year, he said.

He then referred to proposal of French delegate at last meeting that ad hoc commission be set up composed of experts to examine various proposals and prepare recommendations for conference. Soviet delegate, [Page 1245] he said, agrees with this in principle, and is ready to examine a program of work for this committee. However, he said, conference should think overall proposals and recommendations before it and divide them according to their importance and according to those on which conference agrees and on which conference disagrees. If conference submitted all questions to subcommittee, he thought, this could be considered as constituting an unnecessary delay. Procedure other than that suggested by French delegate should, therefore, be considered.

Kuznetsov then made suggestion that heads of delegations meet in more restricted sessions with a few experts and interpreters, taking Soviet proposal on control as basis for discussion. He did not want to insist on immediate reply, but thought this would be step forward to facilitate recommendations to Ministers “who should return to Geneva”.

In concluding, Kuznetsov referred to today’s statement by Chauvel, said it deserved attention, and asked Chauvel if he could have written texts. Chauvel nodded affirmatively.

After recess, Li Ke-nung spoke on armistice control system. He declared French proposal for comparing various proposals on this subject “was helpful”. He supported, however, proposal by Kuznetsov for more restricted meeting to determine what work should be referred to committee of experts. Li also supported fully Kuznetsov‘s statements on control system.

Li then launched into discussion of various issues involved in control system taking as his text Molotov‘s proposals of June 14 and 16. He made following principal points:

Conference has in effect agreed with points 1 and 4 of Molotov‘s proposal of June 14, since all delegations agree that there should be two types of commissions—joint and international—that joint commission should be composed of equal representatives from two commands and that international commission should be composed of representatives of neutral powers. In latter connection, he referred to proposal that Colombo powers constitute international commission and agreed that these powers are neutral. He pointed out that three of five powers proposed for commission by Soviets were Colombo powers.
Concerning powers and functions of commissions, Li stated that Bidault statement of June 2 agreed in principle with point 5 of Molotov‘s proposal of June 14 concerning the functions of the neutral nations commission. Li noted Chauvel‘s statement of June 22 to effect that one commission need not be “subordinate” to other, that there should be division of functions, and that functions of two commissions should be spelled out. Li pointed out that Molotov‘s proposal of June 14 has many points of agreement in this respect with views expressed by Bidault.
Concerning voting on international commission, Li asserted Molotov‘s proposal of June 14 took into account views of some delegations that voting should be by majority vote. Li argued, however, that on issues vital to one side or other decision should not be one-sided but must be unanimous. He stated that points 7 and 8 of Molotov‘s proposal provided basis for agreement on voting.
Concerning international guarantees, Li stated all delegations agreed guarantees desirable and that conference powers should be guarantors. He claimed conference should be able to agree on Molotov‘s points 11 and 12. Proposal by chairman that next meeting be Tuesday June 29 accepted.

  1. A set of minutes of this session (IC Restricted/18) is in Conference files, lot 60 D 627, CF 279. The minutes indicate that the meeting convened at 3 p.m. and adjourned at 6:30 p.m. The minutes are also printed in Conférence de Genève, pp. 339–346.