396.1 GE/7–1754: Telegram

The United States Delegation to the Department of State


Secto 636. Repeated information Paris 83. Eden today gave Mendes-France and me following account his talks with Chou En-lai this morning. Chou was most anxious about reports reaching him re recent Paris talks and particularly re US plan to create Southeast Asia pact including Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. Chou reiterated his position to effect that he was prepared to join in a guarantee of the freedom and independence of all three Indochinese states but that if these states were to become members of Southeast Asian pact, everything would be changed.

Eden told us that he replied that he knew of no proposal for the Indochinese states to join a Southeast Asian pact but that he would confirm this with General Smith. He told Chou that of course we are [Page 1421] interested in the defense organization of Southeast Asia and he pointed to current Soviet-Communist-Chinese pact as indicating right of nations to join for self-defense. Chou rejoined that this pact was concerned only with Japan, adding that he does not mind ANZUS which also is directed against Japan. He spoke at length on danger of foreign bases in Indochina. Eden told us he said this was nonsense.

I stated to Eden and Mendes-France that it seemed to me that question of whether or not Indochinese states are to be members of Southeast Asian defense pact depends on the outcome of current conference. I added that if we failed here we would have to go ahead and face a different and serious situation.

Later at Eden‘s villa, I urged upon him the great importance of our being prepared without delay, regardless of how conference comes out, to issue statement of intent to form Southeast Asian defense organism. I said that I hoped that US, UK, Australia, New Zealand, possibly France as well as the Philippines and Thailand could be members initially. Eden stated that he would give serious thought to this matter but added that of course he would have to advise Commonwealth members in South Asia before any action was taken. He promised me a reply on this subject before long.

Turning to general situation here, Eden and I agreed that Communist position, and particularly Molotov‘s has hardened very considerably in last three or four days. It is evident that Mendes-France has been a great disappointment to the Communists both as regards the relatively firm position he has taken on Indochina and his attitude toward EDC. They may therefore wish to force him out of the government by making settlement here impossible.