Memorandum of Conversation, by the Acting Director of the Office of Philippine and Southeast Asian Affairs ( Day )
- Comments of Lao Minister on Return from Geneva Conference
- The Honorable Ourot R. Souvannavong, Minister of Laos
- PSA—Messrs. Day and Hoey
The Minister of Laos, who has been on the Lao Delegation at Geneva, said he had left Geneva on July 1. He said he might be called to Vientiane for consultations soon. The Lao Defense Minister took his place on the delegation.
He said that before he left Geneva military talks had begun between Lao and Viet Minh representatives at Geneva. Each side had held to its position and in the absence of any agreement there have been two postponements of further meetings. The Lao representative insisted that the only question for discussion was withdrawal of the Viet Minh from Laos. The Viet Minh side insisted on the principle of regroupment with a zone for Pathet Lao forces. No specific demarcation lines were discussed.
There have been some informal talks between the Lao Delegation and the Viet Minh Delegation aside from the military talks. His delegation first met Dong and two other Viet Minh delegates at the dinner which Chou gave for the Cambodian, Lao and Viet Minh. The atmosphere at this dinner was friendly with Chou assuming an extremely cordial attitude. Chou inquired whether there were any proposals for the US to establish military bases in Laos. He was informed that there were none but that Laos had treaty arrangements with France under which French troops were stationed in Laos for training and defense. Chou seemed to accept this as entirely agreeable. In direct conversations between the Lao and Viet Minh delegates, the Viet Minh urged [Page 1298] that two or three representatives of Pathet Lao be included in the government to prepare for elections. The Lao pointed out that there would be elections next year in the normal course of events at which time any person wishing to be a candidate could present himself. At one time Chou wanted to help arrange a meeting between the dissident Prince Souphanavong and his half-brother Prince Souvanna Phouma, the Prime Minister. Nothing came of this. The Lao Government has had no information for some time of any activity on the part of Souphanavong or any so-called Pathet Lao forces.
Regarding the recent incident involving military trainees near Vientiane Ourot said that Prince Petsarath, who has been in exile in Thailand, had been given permission to re-enter Laos to visit his family. However, he actually came to recruit forces for Souphanavong. He expected to move these from the Vientiane area to another part of Laos by way of Thailand. The plan failed.
Ourot said that he was with his Prime Minister when Menon called on him. He was impressed by Menon‘s lack of information regarding Laos.
Ourot said there was a Pathet Lao representative among the Communist delegates. One of the Lao Delegation recognized the individual. Ourot found three Viet Minh representatives who were former friends of his in student days. Ourot found them all well indoctrinated. One in particular made Ourot appreciate this by referring to Communism as an evincible force that would crush all obstacles. Ourot has the impression that the Communist delegates at Geneva all acted as victors. Their attitude of triumph was of course most noticeable after the battle of Dien Bien Phu.