396.1 GE/7–954: Telegram

The United States Delegation to the Department of State


Secto 577. Department pass Defense; repeated information Paris 26, Saigon 18. In commenting on working paper prepared by French delegation on control of cessation of hostilities in Vietnam (Secto 5751), Department will wish to bear in mind general development of French thinking on this subject during past few weeks. Joint Commissions of belligerents are no longer envisaged as they were in original French proposals of June 2 and 4 as merely working instruments of International Commission. Importance of contemplated role of Joint Commissions has greatly increased. Concept of subordination has been totally abandoned although French continue to maintain obligatory nature of certain types of decisions and recommendations of International Commission. Any thought that International Commission would have physical means of acting as an enforcing agency has been abandoned. Soviet view on need for unanimous decisions on important questions has been accepted by French.

It should also be noted that until terms of agreement for cessation of hostilities are known, it is difficult to comment on significance of certain [Page 1312] points in French working paper. For example, what will be demarcation line or lines? Are demilitarized sectors envisaged other than those separating two sides?

Following comments are on numbered articles of French working paper:

  • Articles 1–3: Division of responsibility considered appropriate (two sides have responsibility for implementation of agreement; International Commission for control; and Joint Commission for facilitating joint implementation).
  • Articles 4 and 5: No comment.
  • Article 6: Except for word “assure” in first sentence, paragraph assigns to Joint Commission proper role of “help” to two sides, “liaison” between them, and “endeavor to resolve” difficulties. This in keeping with character of Joint Commission as we visualize it, since it would be body of representatives with function of coordinating implementation by two sides. However, word “assure” (French assurer) may have connotation of control, and thus tend to blur division of responsibility between Joint and International Commissions.
  • Article 6(B): We believe special provision should be made for either evacuating or disarming irregular forces of one side located in regrouping area to be assigned other side.
  • Article 7: No comment.
  • Article 8: Re second paragraph: Appears undesirable that points at which fixed teams are stationed could be modified “at the request of one of the sides” even with agreement between International Commission and command of side concerned. Since locations of fixed teams are initially to be decided by agreement between both sides, both sides should agree to changes. Also not clear which side would be “side concerned” (French: la partie interesSee). It could be side on whose territory point is located, or other side, since latter would be “concerned” if a team were moved from important check point to insignificant point.

    Re fourth paragraph: Since mobile teams can move in areas outside of action zones defined in third paragraph only in agreement with command of side concerned, mobile teams could be blocked from inspecting, for example, airfields and local arms manufacturing plants that might be situated outside action zones.

    Wording of paragraph has effect of excluding from sphere within which mobile teams can inspect on their own initiative these two significant activities which, if uncontrolled, could permit Viet Minh to increase their military capability. We believe, therefore, definition of action zones should be reconsidered. Also we believe two sides should be specifically charged with furnishing to international teams transport, observation and communication facilities as well as logistic support without precluding introduction such facilities by members International Commission.

  • Article 9: Omitted from subjects to be controlled are local arms and ammunition manufacturing plants which, if not subjected to control, [Page 1313] could increase Viet Minh military capability. Re sub-paragraph (D), not clear whether airports outside action zones mentioned in Article 8 would be subject to control. We note no control envisaged on recruitment or development further native forces.
  • Article 10: This article places no geographical limitations on movement of inspection teams of International Commission on its own initiative. However, paragraph 3, Article 8, requires mobile teams to have agreement of command of side concerned to move outside action zones. Presumably Article 8 would govern since purpose of making distinction between action zones and other areas would be defeated if, under Article 10, inspection teams could move freely merely on initiative of International Commission. This apparent conflict, if not corrected, could produce different interpretations in International Commission, and seriously hamper effective control.
  • Article 11: No comment.
  • Article 12: The authority of inspection teams to “settle an incident” is nowhere spelled out. The obligation of the sides to carry out recommendations of the International Commission is not as clearly stated as would be desirable.
  • Article 13: No comment.
  • Article 14: Re second paragraph: Not clear whether recommendations of International Commission on amendments and additions to agreement would be binding on the sides. If this is intention, consider this provision undesirable. Two sides should not be obliged to accept amendments. Amendments should be made upon agreement of both sides in same manner as for basic agreement itself. If intention is that recommendations should not be binding, paragraph should so specify.
  • Article 15: Consider all questions, particularly serious ones specified in sub-paragraphs (A) and (B), should be decided by majority vote. Veto protects transgressor and impedes corrective action.
  • Article 16: The merits of this paragraph cannot be judged until the conference has made further progress in matter of role, obligations and commitments of guarantors.
  • Articles 17–19: No comment.

We are informally discussing foregoing comments with Offroy, French delegate, and will report further.

  1. Dated July 8, p. 1305.