396.1 GE/7–954: Telegram

Twenty-second Restricted Session on Indochina, Geneva, July 9, 3 p.m.: The United States Delegation to the Department of State1


Secto 580. Repeated information Paris 30, London 12, Saigon 21, Tokyo 5, Moscow 6, Vientiane, Phnom Penh unnumbered. Tokyo pass CINCFE. Department pass Defense. Twenty-second Indochina restricted session Friday, July 9, Lamb (UK) presiding.

US delegate spoke first. Text in Secto 579.2

Li Ko-nung (PRC) spoke next referring to comments of French, Cambodian and Laos delegates 6 July on subject non-introduction of troops and arms into Laos and Cambodia after cessation hostilities. Referring to question that above delegates raised concerning requirements for self-defense, Li said he would like to make three points in response:

Problem of what was necessary for self-defense should be considered separately, and quantity of military personnel, arms and ammunition introduced should be limited to requirements of self-defense. In this connection Li was pleased to note that Laos and Cambodian delegates on 6 July reaffirmed their assurances that arms to be introduced would be limited to requirements of self-defense.
Question of limitation on introduction military personnel and arms should be discussed together with question of prohibition of foreign bases. On this point Li noted 8 June statement of Cambodian delegate that it would not allow foreign bases to be established in Cambodia and concluded that neither Laos or Cambodia have views contrary to his on this question.
Referring to question of need for foreign experts and technicians in Laos and Cambodia, Li said relation of these countries to French Union required that this subject be studied and that it should be discussed along with question of withdrawal of foreign forces.

Referring to meetings between military representatives pursuant to conference agreement on 19 June, Li said question of military arms and equipment necessary for self-defense of Laos and Cambodia should be discussed by representatives of two commands who, after reaching certain measure of agreement, could submit recommendations to conference. He expressed hope military representatives would proceed on basis three above principles.

[Page 1316]

Dong (Viet Minh) then took floor to speak on general question of control, noting that statements of Soviet, PRC, and French delegates at last session showed area of agreement on which conference could agree.

Dong said views of delegates quite close on following subjects:

All recognized need for two categories of control (joint and neutral commissions).
All agreed that relation between these organs should not be on basis subordination but rather coordination.
All more or less agreed that since neutral commission would have no forces its decisions could not be imposed on the parties, and if one party protested, problem should be referred to guarantor powers.
All agreed decisions of neutral commission should be taken by unanimous vote on important questions such as renewal of hostilities and amendment of agreement, and that certain others could be taken by majority vote.
All agree that organization of control should cover all of Indochina, although special situations in Laos and Cambodia would be taken into account.

On question of organization of control, Dong made following comments:

Regarding the objects of control, following military questions should be included: simultaneous and complete cease-fire; demarcation line between regroupment zones; separation of belligerent forces and transfer of belligerent troops to regroupment areas; withdrawal of foreign forces; prohibition of introduction of arms and military personnel; prohibition of foreign military bases, and exchange of POWs and civilian internees. All these, he said, are measures which should be implemented at same time as cease-fire.
Regarding the function of control body, Dong pointed out that implementation of agreement depended on action of two sides, that to be effective, control of implementation should be grounded on knowledge of prevailing conditions, and that supervision should be in the hands of those who are competent, that is, representatives of two sides in joint commission. Subjects enumerated in previous paragraph fall within competence joint commission, except for prohibition of introduction arms and military personnel and prohibition of foreign military bases. These latter two are within competence of neutral body. Distribution of tasks between two commissions can be determined by differing nature of roles. Joint commission implements, negotiates disputes, recommends to sides. In cases of disagreement, question is referred to neutral commission for advice and examination. Neutral commission supervises implementation of agreement, particularly concerning prohibition on introduction troops and establishment foreign bases; it makes inquiries, and recommends to sides. If one side contests ruling, issue goes to guarantor states. In short, joint commission supervises implementation of agreement and negotiates differences; neutral commission supervises and conciliates, while supreme arbiters are guarantor powers.

[Page 1317]

All above remarks concerning organization of control, Dong said, are valid for all of Indochina. Joint commissions should be set up in each of three states with one general neutral commission which would have sub-commissions in each state. Special conditions, particularly in Cambodia, should be taken into account, notably regarding withdrawal of foreign troops and non-introduction arms and military personnel from outside. Nevertheless basic principle of control for all three states of Indochina is not altered.

In concluding, Dong said considerable progress made by conference on question of supervision, and that “objects of control” being dealt with by military experts. He hoped military talks would soon reach satisfactory result and that committees could report in reasonable time.

Chauvel (France), speaking from notes, noted statements of Laotian and Cambodian delegates at last meeting in which they expressed concern over need for maintaining means of defense. He said French Government fully aware of this need, and recognized that if French troops have been in these two countries it was because national elements were not able to meet task. Real problem, he said, was necessity to give these states capability of exercising their sovereignty. In this connection he noted that ideas of US delegate expressed in Ambassador Johnson‘s opening statement coincided with concession French Government on this point.

Turning to statement of PRC delegate, Chauvel said he was not sure he agreed with PRC view that question of introduction arms and military personnel into Laos and Cambodia should be discussed by military experts since he felt this was not issue merely to be worked out by Laos and Cambodia with Viet Minh but was matter of interest all delegates in conference.

Chauvel then referred to Dong‘s statement, and warned conference against temptation, now that Ministers are about to meet, of reaching general agreements on various subjects when detailed issues are yet unresolved. It would be confusing, he said, to say we agreed in areas where in fact there is no agreement. He went on to note that Dong incorrectly said all delegations agreed that there should be single armistice agreement for all Indochina. French delegation, he asserted, never said that. Rather it said just the contrary and he believed conference shared its view. On 19 June, he said, conference appeared to favor not one single commission but three to deal with problems in three states. Similarly a single text of an agreement cannot apply to all three countries. French delegation, he said, favors three agreements, one for each country.

Sam Sary (Cambodia) spoke next and said statement of PRC delegate concerning non-introduction arms into Laos and Cambodia not far [Page 1318] from his own lines of thinking, particularly remark on defensive goals such arms should have. He went on to make following points:

Re foreign bases in Cambodia, statement of Cambodian delegate on 8 June that it did not intend to authorize foreign bases intended to apply only if Cambodia not threatened. However, if Cambodian security were imperiled, Cambodia intends, he said, to keep its legitimate right to defend itself by all means.
Re foreign instructors and technicians, he referred to present situation in which there are French instructors whom Cambodia continues to wish to avail itself of. However, he said, negotiation on this subject should properly be carried out in framework of conference, not with invader (meaning Viet Minh) who would be interested in limiting means of defense of its victim.
Re limitation on introduction arms and military personnel, principle of limitation, he said, applies only to quantity and should not be detrimental to sufficient defense of independence of country. Cambodia must be able to choose origin and quality of equipment and military personnel needed to maintain its sovereign independence.

In concluding, Sam Sary said his delegation fully shared reservations expressed today by French delegate on question control in Laos and Cambodia.

Although no delegates indicated intention to speak further, and in spite of general feeling that meeting should adjourn, Kuznetsov suggested session take short break and resume to discuss question of next meeting in light of early arrival Foreign Ministers.

After break Kuznetsov expressed support of Soviet delegation for Chinese proposals re introduction of arms after cease-fire. Said as is known, in point order of conference decisions June 29, work of conference should begin with question of withdrawal of foreign forces and military personnel. It is obvious this agreement meant provide cessation hostilities and thus provide that no foreign troops or foreign arms be admitted into the two countries. Taking into consideration peculiarities of situation in Laos and Cambodia, Chinese proposals provided for certain arms be admitted from outside but amount should be discussed separately. It will be difficult decide this question but Chinese suggestion deserves special mention. Majority delegates appear agree amount of arms should be limited to amount necessary for self-defense. It also necessary provide that introduction arms not create situation menacing neighboring countries. Many participants this conference expressed this idea and not without foundation, for there are not a few examples where territory of sovereign states used to create great stores of armaments menacing neighbors. Countries allowing this in fact lose their sovereignty. We consider that anybody undertaking this discussion should proceed on principle that introduction of armament be limited to self-defense.

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During past three weeks delegates have tried hard reach rapprochement on question of control and supervision over cessation of hostilities. In particular, France has made no small effort in this respect. We have made step forward and have basis from which can move further. Important we not place artificial obstacles in way. We are now at stage where can pass from speech making to definition of certain formulas.

Lamb then stated co-chairman and he felt they could not very well fix date of next meeting since several delegations will be represented by Ministers.

Usual communiqué issued leaving date for next meeting open.

  1. A set of minutes of this session (IC Restricted/22) is in Conference files, lot 60 D 627, CF 279. The minutes indicate that the session convened at 3 p.m. and adjourned at 6:15 p.m. The minutes are also printed in Conférence de Genève, pp. 368–375. The observations made by Pham Van Dong on the question of supervision, Indochina Document IC/41, July 10, are in Conference files, lot 60 D 627, CF 279A. This message was transmitted to the Department of State in two sections.
  2. Infra.