396.1 GE/7–1354: Telegram

JohnsonMenon Meeting, Geneva, July 13, Morning: The United States Delegation to the Department of State


Secto 595. Repeated information Paris 44, New Delhi 1. Krishna Menon asked to call on me this morning. He opened by asking how I felt the conference was going, to which I replied “badly”. I said that I was personally discouraged at the lack of any progress. At various times senior Communist representative had indicated to French and others what appeared to be a certain amount of reasonableness and willingness to compromise, but this had never been transformed into [Page 1345] any action. When the technicians got together there had not been the slightest shift in Communist positions and no progress whatever had been made during the period following departure of ministers.

He said he understood French were insisting on a line in vicinity of 18th Parallel and the Communists were talking about a line in vicinity of 14th Parallel. I said I heard that the Communists had even mentioned something along 13th Parallel.

In reply to his question, I said that I was entirely satisfied that there was no room for compromise in French position on 18th Parallel. It was not bargaining position on part of French and they had our full support. He said if “all other things were settled” it should be possible to arrive at some compromise formula, to which I replied that this was not the type of situation which was susceptible to further compromise. The French position made military sense and I was satisfied they were not going to get themselves into position of splitting Parallels. He said that although we probably did not realize it, India had in past brought strong pressure upon Communists and that if he could be of help in future, he was willing to try; there being a vague implication that India might support present French position. He said he supposed “neutralization” of some of area between 18th and 14th Parallels might theoretically be desirable, but did not feel it would be practicable. In any event if this were done India would probably have to do the major part of it and had no desire take on such a job. I agreed that “neutral” administration of any considerable area of the country was impracticable.

In reply to his query as to what I thought were other major questions, I said Laos, Cambodia and control organization. He said there would be no problem about getting “every Viet Minh soldier” out of Laos and Cambodia, but some method must be found of “saving the Communists face” on resistance movements. I said this seemed ridiculous as every one knew that indigenous resistance movements were very small and unimportant, and it seemed to me just as logical to insist on recognizing the Ukrainian national movement in the Soviet Union as so-called resistance movements in Laos and Cambodia. He said Laos already expressed willingness to hold elections and felt something like this might take care of it. I pointed out that both Laos and Cambodia have in past, and I presumed would in the future, hold elections. He avoided discussion of control organization.

He talked at some length on Viet Minh, who while undoubtedly Communist, were also nationalists and seriously desired maintain relationship with French. He said that they would not be puppets of Moscow or the Chinese and that in normal course of events they would [Page 1346] constitute a more or less “neutral” group such as India, although they would be oriented towards Communists while India is oriented toward west.

In course of some discussion of Chinese Communist attitudes, I took advantage of opportunity to outline my discussion with Chinese Communists with regard to Americans in China, lack of results thus far, and my discouragement with regard thereto in spite of gestures we had made. He said he thought Nehru may have said something about this to Chou En-lai, but did not follow up subject further.

He said he hoped see me when I returned from Paris1 and left for an appointment with Molotov.

  1. The U.S. Delegation reported to the Department of State in telegram 41 from Geneva, July 13, that Ambassador Johnson had “left Geneva for Paris 14:38 today on special plane with Mendes-France and Eden.” (Conference files, lot 60 D 627, CF 299)