396.1 GE/7–1754: Telegram
The United States Delegation to the Department of State
Secto 637. Repeated information Paris 84, Saigon 54. Immediately following close of meeting between Molotov, Eden, Mendes-France this evening at Eden‘s villa, Caccia gave Johnson detailed account of their meeting of which following is summary.
Molotov opened by referring to four major unsettled questions he had mentioned at meeting last night (Secto 6301) saying that he had been unable to find anything in French documents on question of arms, ammunition and troops into Vietnam. It was pointed out to him [Page 1422] that French draft armistice agreement on Vietnam dealt with this subject and that proposed French conference declaration covered matter insofar as Laos and Cambodia concerned. Molotov said he would study matter further. Molotov then said he could not find anything with respect to foreign military bases and non-entry of these countries into military alliances. Mendes referred to proposed unilateral declarations by Laos and Cambodia and note to be taken thereof in conference declaration, to which Molotov replied that this was fine, but Russian counter-draft had proposed each power in conference undertake obligation in this regard and French proposal was “not quite the same thing”.
There was then discussion of time required for regrouping, in which Mendes pointed out this was military problem; French military estimated 305 days would be required under ideal conditions and that 2½ months had been added for “acts of God” and as a margin of error. He said that there was not only question of military personnel and matériel, but also of civilian population. Molotov appeared to be somewhat surprised at the mention of civilian population and suggested that perhaps that could be handled in some other way. After fairly extensive discussion, it was agreed French and Viet Minh military experts would discuss matter further, Molotov agreeing to urge Viet Minh military meet with French who for some time have been unable to make contact on military level.
Mendes then turned discussion to supervision, during course of which Molotov said the French proposal for three separate commissions for each of Associated States acceptable if there was coordinating committee. During course this discussion, Eden supported Colombo power group and finally suggested that if not acceptable, non-Communist state and one other state be added to Colombo group, pointing out French have conceded issue of unanimity and this would meet Communist point having at least one Communist state. Molotov replied by referring to his previous three-nation proposal, saying he had no other proposal to make and would inform Viet Minh of British suggestion.
On voting, Mendes referred to French paper and Molotov stated, subject to certain drafting amendments, positions not far apart. It was agreed French and Viet Minh civilian experts would meet to discuss drafting changes. Freedom of movement for commission was also raised by Mendes, to which Caccia understood Molotov to reply that this was no problem. However, status of this apparently left vague.
Ministers then asked for report from experts (Tahourdin, Levrischew and Laloy were meeting in separate room on last French draft of conference declaration). However, it appeared that no progress had been made. Soviets, while accepting last French re-draft [Page 1423] as basis for discussion (Secto 6282) attempting to re-introduce all items dropped from Soviet counterproposal (Secto 6153).
Molotov then suggested a conference meeting be held tomorrow and long discussion ensued with Mendes and Eden attempting prevent meeting and making counter-suggestions of short meeting starting at 5:00 instead of 3:00, etc., but Molotov remained adamant on full meeting. During course of discussion, Molotov indicated Chinese and Viet Minh feel they have perhaps been left out of negotiations a little and have something to say. There was also vague reference by him to General Smith‘s return and desirability he be “brought back into picture”. Matter was left with Molotov to consult with Chinese and Viet Minh on meeting at later hour than 3:00, and UK and France suggested meeting be very restricted with only 2 or 3 present from each delegation. Apparently, Eden and Mendes feel meeting cannot be refused if Communists continue to insist.
Caccia reported that on entering meeting with Molotov, Mendes had requested Eden not to raise question of line and elections, as in talk with Chou which Mendes had just had it appeared some resolution can be found these problems. However, neither Eden nor Caccia had opportunity obtain more full account from Mendes.
French had told Caccia they are immediately replying to Vietnamese note (Secto 6334) denying Vietnamese have not been kept fully informed.