106. Paper Prepared by the Head of the Delegation to the Laos Conference (Harriman)0
The issue presently stalling the Laos conference concerns the effectiveness of the cease-fire.
As you know, the Pathet Lao are deliberately violating the de facto cease-fire agreement with continuous attacks in the Pa Dong area. They are refusing access to International Control Commission teams attempting to investigate alleged violations in pursuance of its mission to “supervise and control” the cease-fire.
Soviets have so far refused to send instructions, requested by the ICC, which will make it clear that the ICC should investigate alleged violations, and calling on both parties to cooperate with the ICC in its inspections. (Royal Government has publicly assured full cooperation.) Underscored phrases in the attached draft instructions are proposed by US-UK-France as additions to latest Russian draft instructions. They are all that is necessary to clear up this issue.
In addition, we want agreement that the ICC should be given the equipment it is asking to do its job.
All these points are in support of the requests of Mr. Sen, the Indian chairman of the ICC, and have been endorsed publicly or privately by all the non-Communist members of the Conference.
The cease-fire issue must be resolved in our favor if there is to be any chance for a useful result at Geneva. We believe, however, that it should be resolved in the setting of a broader discussion between the President and Khrushchev on Laos questions.
The President might seek Khrushchev’s assurance that he is genuinely interested in a neutral Laos. This can be presented as an appropriate issue to test the good faith of both parties. Obviously details of a neutral status must be worked out at the Geneva Conference. But in order that semantic agreement on the term “neutrality” should not mask fundamental differences in concept, the President might touch on the following points:
- Laos should not be aligned with either side; this involves military withdrawal on both sides—including Viet Minh and Chinese Communists.
- Laos should not be used for the advantage of either side.
- To this end the Laotian Government must be run by people who really believe in neutrality and not by people dedicated to Communist or U.S. interests; each side must make this clear to all parties in Laos.
- There must be adequate machinery to satisfy each side—and its friends—that the mutual assurances are being observed.
- An essential first step is to resolve the question of cease-fire instructions to the ICC in accordance with the attached draft.1 If this is done, the U.S. is prepared to turn immediately to the discussion of the substantive issues at the Conference.