396.1 GE/7–1554: Telegram
The United States Delegation to the Department of State
Secto 617. Repeated information Paris 65. Saigon 38. At working level meeting today representatives of French, US and UK Dels called by French Del (Laloy) there was discussion of Soviet counterproposal to French draft declaration to be issued by conference. Soviet text is contained in Secto 615.1
Meeting opened with some discussion of original French text. Aside from some unimportant matters of drafting, there was general acceptance of French text except that USDel reserved position on final paragraph concerning agreement of members of conference to consult among themselves.
Turning to Soviet counterproposal, Laloy stated there were 3 main objections:
- It applies political criteria for Vietnam also to Laos and Cambodia which do not have political problems,
- It establishes date for elections, and
- It introduces for all 3 countries prohibition on alliances and foreign bases.
Following are comments developed on specific numbered paragraphs of Soviet counterproposals:
- It was agreed that instead of “approve” effort would be made to restore “takes note” from original French text. USDel firm on this point—French and British acquiesced.
- This is new provision to which French do not object provided word “recognition” is replaced by “respect”. French point is that independence has already been recognized.
- French Del will ask explanation of clause added by Soviets to 6th paragraph of original French text.
- There was objection to lumping together of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. Evacuation of foreign troops is to take place in Laos and Cambodia at once subject to agreed reservations in case of French military personnel whereas in Vietnam position is that presence of French troops will be in accordance with decisions of representative authority.
- In addition to lumping together of 3 countries, French hold that case of Vietnam will be covered in military agreement between commands and that there is no need for repetition in conference declaration. In case of Laos and Cambodia, these countries are making unilateral declarations which should be noted by conference in terms used by 2 countries.
- This introduces new concepts of “military alliances” and “foreign bases”. General subject matter to be covered in Laos and Cambodia by their unilateral declarations. In case of Vietnam, difficult to see how “foreign base” could be established in light of prohibition of introduction reinforcing troops and arms.
- Again this provision joins together 3 countries and calls for political negotiations with Laos and Cambodia where there are no political problems.
- British stated no fundamental objection to having international commission to supervise elections consisting representatives of same states supervising military aspect. French have already told Soviets they consider fixing of date for elections entirely unacceptable. They did not like concept of consultation between “northern and southern zones of Vietnam”.
- It appears unnecessary and perhaps dangerous to spell out freedoms to be guaranteed in Laos and Cambodia. This is derogatory to established governments of those countries. Conference should limit itself to taking note of unilateral statements by Governments of Laos and Cambodia re dates of elections and should not attempt itself to fix dates.
- This item should be in military agreement rather than in conference declaration. Final sentence appears ambiguous and should be eliminated.
- No comment.
- In this paragraph regarding consultation, Soviets have added word “collective”. It was agreed that this should be omitted and US representative reiterated US reservation of position.
Laloy expressed view that conference guarantee would be of no really effective importance since serious differences would have to be settled in some other manner.
Laloy will get Mendes-France’s views on Soviet proposals and on working level comments this evening and will then prepare a further French draft based on original French draft incorporating whatever may be acceptable from Soviet draft. He will distribute this new draft as soon as possible to US and UKDels.[Page 1378]
It was agreed that effort should be made so that Ministers could have before them urgently a text showing agreed and disagreed working level draft.
There was some inconclusive discussion of method of financing international supervisory commission. It was emphasized that adequate financing most important to proper functioning. Department’s view this point would be appreciated.