Conference files, lot 60 D 627, CF 254: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the United States Delegation


Tosec 563.

[Report of the Joint U.S.-U.K. Study Group on Southeast Asia]

item i

Terms of Reference:

“Assuming France-Associated States and Vietminh reach agreements on Indo-China, which the US and UK are willing to respect—

The precise terms on which the UK and US might be willing to be associated with such agreements; and
The basis on which the free Asian and other interested non-Communist states might be brought into association with the agreements.”

There was discussion of the methods of association with such agreements. The UK members preferred a multilateral declaration to be signed by all the countries taking part in the Indo-China phase of the Geneva conference and as many other interested South and Southeast Asian states as possible. The US members stated that provided the agreements met US specifications, the US, at the conclusion of the Geneva conference, would be prepared to make a unilateral statement of US policy to the effect that the US would respect the agreements in the sense of applying thereto the non-force principles of Article 2 (4) and (6) of the UN Charter. The US would gladly welcome non-Communist co-signers. The US members were not prepared to envisage negotiating the terms of such a unilateral statement of US policy either directly with the Communists at Geneva or indirectly through discussion of the terms with the Indians or other countries.
The US members defined an agreement which the US could respect as being one which (a) in its view substantially fulfilled the seven points communicated to the French by the UK and US1 and subsequently accepted by France (July 14, 1954);2 and (b) the Associated States accepted.
The UK members pointed out that the UK would wish to make a declaration in a form which as many as possible of other interested states might feel able to use. Some of these countries might not be members of the UN, or not represented there. The UK might therefore wish to avoid too many detailed references to provisions of the Charter, and refer only to the general principles of the UN, in order to secure as wide agreement as possible on the substance and terms of a declaration in respect of an Indo-China settlement.
On the assumption that agreements are reached on Indo-China which the US and UK members are willing to respect, the UK members stated that the free Asian and other non-Communist states should be encouraged to bring themselves into association with the agreements on the same basis as the US and the UK. The UK members considered that the first step in securing the support of these powers for a collective defense system would be to induce them to associate themselves with an Indo-China settlement. This would not only help to make that settlement durable and effective, it would also be valuable in the event of violation and in the event of an appeal to the UN.
The US members agreed that it would be valuable to have free Asian and other interested non-Communist states associate themselves with whatever declarations the US and the UK might make. The US members stated, however, that the value was not so great that the US would be disposed to exert political pressure on other non-Communist countries to associate themselves with the declaration which the US might make.

Agreed recommendations on Item I.

The Study Group agreed that provided agreements are reached which the two governments can respect:—

The US and UK should each issue a declaration of policy in respect of the agreements.
The terms of the US and UK declarations should be as similar as possible.
These declarations should conform to the purposes and principles of the UN and should contain a statement that the issuing government would not use force to disturb the agreements.
It would be desirable for as many interested non-Communist countries as possible to issue similar or identical declarations.

item ii

Terms of Reference:

“Assuming an Indo-China agreement, the terms of a collective security pact regarding Southeast and possibly South Asia, designed—

To deter and if necessary to combat Communist aggression by making it clear that it would be met by prompt and united action and would involve grave consequences;
To provide machinery for effective cooperation in defense of the area against aggression and for assisting the lawful governments to resist Communist infiltration and subversion;
To commit the members to take, in accordance with their constitutional processes, such action as is deemed necessary, including the use of armed force, in the event of Communist aggression covered by the pact;
To protect Laos, Cambodia, and that part of Vietnam remaining free after any agreement, whether or not they are free to participate under the terms of the agreement.”


[a.] The Study Group agreed that drafting a collective security treaty should be a matter for negotiation between all the founder members.

b. The US members submitted an informal draft text of a collective security treaty for Southeast Asia and the Southwest Pacific, as an indication of US thinking.

[Page 1413]

(Annex A3). The US members stated that they had also made this draft available to certain of the other potential founding members of a collective security arrangement.

c. The UK members made some preliminary comments on the American draft. The UK comments are given in Annex B.4 The UK members considered that it was premature to submit a text until clear agreement had been reached between the two governments on the nature and purposes of the proposed treaty, and on the timing and negotiations with other powers. They were therefore unable to associate themselves with the US members in submitting a text at this stage.


Main features of a collective security treaty.

The Study Group agreed on the main features of the proposed treaty. These features are indicated in the following recommendations, which, however, do not attempt to use language suitable for inclusion in the treaty.

Purpose. The purpose of the treaty is to block the expansion of Communist influence in the general area of South and Southeast Asia and the Southwest Pacific. The group recognized that this might take several forms: Overt aggression; infiltration and subversion coupled with Communist assistance to armed rebellions or Communist interference in civil wars; or Communist infiltration and subversion without resort to violence. The group agreed that provision should be made in the treaty against all these contingencies.
The initial membership of the collective security treaty should include UK, US, Australia, New Zealand, France, Thailand and the Philippines and other Southeast Asian states (Burma and Indonesia) if they are willing. The initial membership could also include other states which, on the basis of informal consultations, indicated their desire to participate.5
Cambodia, Laos, and non-Communist Vietnam should be participants if the arrangements at Geneva should permit this.
After entry into force of the treaty, invitations to other states to accede to the treaty, or to associate themselves with it, could be issued upon unanimous agreement of the parties to the treaty.

Nature of the commitment.

Each party should agree:

To assist the lawful governments to maintain and develop their capacity to resist armed attack and Communist infiltration and subversion, through help in the military, police, intelligence, information, economic, technical, and other relevant fields.
To consult together in order to agree on the measures which should be taken whenever in the opinion of one of the parties the territorial integrity, political independence or security of one of the parties, or the peace of the area, is endangered.
In the event of overt Communist aggression in the area of the treaty, to take in accordance with its constitutional processes such action as it deems necessary including the use of armed force.6

Geographical scope of the commitment.
The commitment in paragraph c(3) above should cover:
Local territory of parties to the treaty in the general area of Southeast Asia and the Southwestern Pacific;
Laos and Cambodia and non-Communist Vietnam whether or not they are parties to the treaty;
Provision should be made to allow countries not participating in the treaty to be covered, by agreement, by the commitment in paragraph c(3) above.
The treaty should permit later enlargement of its geographical scope.


The treaty should contain no more than a simple and generalized description of a council; precise organization should be left to discussion with other participating countries and to development by the council. Among the subjects the council should consider would be:

Establishment of such permanent machinery as might be needed;
Interim arrangements pending the completion of (1) above;
Arrangements for the association of countries not parties to the treaty with work of the organization.



The treaty should be of indefinite duration with the provision that any party may cease to be a party one year after notice of denunciation.

Considerations affecting timing.
The group agreed that any agreements reached at Geneva would register a considerable gain for the Communist bloc in Southeast Asia. In the wake of such agreements there would be left an unstable situation in those areas of Indochina remaining free. At the same time those agreements would increase the tendency of the other non-Communist states in the area to accommodate themselves to the prospect of further Communist encroachment. These considerations underlined the necessity for urgent conclusion of collective security arrangements. The group also recognized the importance of securing the backing of the Colombo powers in halting the expansion of Communist influence. [Page 1415] The attitude of these powers toward the collective security arrangement would be important. It would be desirable that these powers should at least acquiesce in the establishment of such an arrangement.
The UK members believed that strong efforts to secure the participation of the Colombo powers in the collective security arrangement or at least their acquiesence in its formation should be made prior to the negotiation of the treaty. In the long run the general aim of blocking Communist expansion in the area will be governed by the support that can be obtained from the peoples and governments of the area. The UK, therefore, considered that immediate negotiations of a collective security arrangement prior to consultation with the Colombo powers would prejudice the eventual attitude of the latter thus endangering the ultimate object of the treaty.
The US members believed that explorations with the Colombo powers should not delay the formation of a security arrangement for the area. The US members recognized the possibility that speedy establishment by other countries of a collective security arrangement might engender temporary opposition on the part of some of the Colombo powers; they believed, however, that in the long run the immediate creation of a strong defense against Communist expansion in Southeast Asia would lead to eventual cooperation by South Asian countries. The US members believed that the political emergency created by a Communist victory at Geneva should be met by immediate action to serve notice that Communist expansion in Asia had reached its limit. The US members believed that delay in the formation of a collective security agreement would probably result in a deterioration in the area of South and Southeast Asia which in the end could well render impossible the conclusion of any effective security arrangement, additional to the US security arrangements with others in the area. The US members believed, therefore, that the collective security arrangement should be negotiated forthwith, with those nations now ready to proceed in the establishment of an effective collective defense system in the general area of the South and Southeast Asia and the Southwest Pacific.
Declaration of intention.
The US members considered that even if there were agreements at Geneva, the urgency of the situation was such, and the probable length of time before a treaty could be signed and ratified was such, that it would be important to have the founding countries issue a statement of intent to conclude a treaty, and immediately to establish ad hoc machinery pending the ratification of such a treaty. The US submitted a draft declaration (Annex C)7 as an indication of US thinking. [Page 1416] The US members stated that copies of this draft had been made available to other potential signatories of such a declaration.
The UK members doubted whether it would be necessary, in the event of a settlement in Indo-China, to issue a declaration of intent, but did not exclude this possibility.

item iii

Terms of Reference:

“Assuming no agreement on Indochina—

The form of collective defense pact for the purposes outlined in paragraph 2, which would be suitable to the situations;
The action to be taken in respect of Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam.”

The group agreed that the main features of a collective security treaty which would be suitable in the event of no agreement on Indochina should be similar to those proposed by the group in the event of a settlement.


The group agreed that in the event of a failure of the negotiations at Geneva the establishment of a collective security treaty would become more urgent.

The UK members considered that a strenuous effort should be made to enlist the support of the Colombo powers and that this consideration should be kept in mind in deciding how to proceed with the negotiation of the treaty.
The US members believed that the situation would require negotiation of a treaty with the utmost dispatch by those nations ready to participate in such a treaty.

Declaration of intention.

The group agreed that in the event of failure of the negotiations at Geneva:

It would be desirable that each of the 2 governments should issue a declaration of intent to conclude with other interested countries a collective security treaty.
It would be desirable that as many other potential members of the treaty as possible should issue similar declarations, and that they should be consulted urgently to this end.

The US members believed that the issue of a declaration would, in the event under consideration, be not only desirable but imperative and that the declaration should provide for the immediate formation of ad hoc machinery by the potential founding members of a security treaty.

[Page 1417]

The UK members considered that the text of the declaration of intent should be simple and general and drafted with the Colombo powers in mind.

In the event of no agreement being reached at Geneva the study group recognized that decisions of high policy on the action to be taken in respect of Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam would be required. Among others, consideration should be given to the following:
Invitations to Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam to join the security treaty.
Appeals to the Security Council by Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam.
The opening of military discussions with the French.
Further measures to ensure the political stability and defense of Thailand.

item iv

Terms of Reference:

“The procedure for bringing other interested nations promptly into these negotiations”.

The group noted that consultations have already been undertaken with representatives of Australia, and the Colombo powers.
The group recommended that the problem of further consultations concerning a declaration in respect of an Indo-China settlement should be dealt with by the representatives of the two governments at the Geneva conference. (The respective views of the UK and US members are covered under Item I of this report).

a. As regards consultation with other powers on the projected Collective Security treaty, the US members believed that a working group with representatives of the UK, US, Australia, New Zealand, France, Thailand, and the Philippines should be established in Washington immediately to prepare agreed recommendations on the terms of a Collective Security pact regarding Southeast Asia and the Southwest Pacific, and to prepare agreed recommendations on the terms of a declaration of intent. Consultations should be undertaken with the Cambodians, Laotians and Vietnamese as appropriate.

b. The United Kingdom members believed that such a working group should not be set up until the views of the two governments on this report were know and that in any case the establishment of the group should be preceded by individual soundings of the views of all potential participants in the treaty. Meanwhile consultation with other powers should be in general terms on an individual and not collective basis.

  1. The seven points were contained in telegram 4853 to Paris, June 28, p. 1256.
  2. The French acceptance was contained in the U.S.-France Position Paper, July 14, 1954, p. 1363.
  3. Annex A, a draft treaty text dated July 9, is printed in volume xii.
  4. Annex B is printed ibid.
  5. For clarification of paragraph 8.b. (1), see telegram Tosec 566, July 18, p. 1431.
  6. For clarification of paragraph 8.c.(3), see telegram Tosec 566, July 18, p. 1431.
  7. Annex C is printed in volume xii.