226. Telegram From the Delegation to the Conference on Laos to the Department of State0

Confe 847. For Harriman. Weekly Evaluation.

MacDonald made some progress in discussions with Pushkin over last week-end1 and during early part of week; but at end this week he came up against strong Soviet objections to Western positions on two of the still unresolved issues.

Pushkin agreed to some drafting changes in the articles on investigations and inspections which improved the provisions on investigations and majority and minority views somewhat by making them more clear. Pushkin also agreed during the week to insert as a separate subparagraph in the neutrality declaration the undertaking of the signatories not to use Lao territory for interference in affairs of other countries. This of course Pushkin insists is conditional upon satisfactory SEATO formula.

MacDonald also proposed to Pushkin during the week that the two co-chairmen of the 1954 Geneva Conference send a message to the parties in Laos calling upon them to reach agreement promptly in order to ensure the success of the present conference at Geneva and establish a genuinely neutral, independent and peaceful Laos. Pushkin was non-committal, saying only that he would refer it to Moscow. MacDonald believes that Soviets reluctant join in such message because it would be entirely impartial, making no implications against RLG. While we consider desirable send such impartial message, continued Soviet refusal to do so would at least provide opportunity place onus on them for unwillingness encourage Lao agreement.

Following Ambassador Harriman’s departure for Washington on November 8, US Del received authorization from Washington to submit revised wording on voting, to drop provision for logistics stations on grounds that ICC would set these up anyway under its normal procedures, and to give Pushkin drafts on armaments and time limits for withdrawals. On November 10 MacDonald gave these drafts to Pushkin after meetings with Western and friendly Asian delegations. Also gave him copies of our article on access and wording giving ICC role of assisting in implementation of neutrality declarations. These texts had previously [Page 511] been given to Pushkin in early October but Pushkin had not yet responded to them in any definitive way.

MacDonald informed us that the discussion with Pushkin was on whole most unpleasant. Pushkin of course agreed with the elimination of the wording on logistics stations, agreed to study the revised wording on voting and the drafts on armaments, and, after initial objection, the draft on time limits for withdrawal of foreign military personnel.

However, MacDonald said Pushkin blew up over access article and provision for ICC assisting in implementation of neutrality declarations. He attacked MacDonald saying these proposals indicated we still trying have ICC control neutrality of Laos and that we didn’t want an agreement.

MacDonald told Pushkin there was also still the question of private armies and need to have something in the Lao Declaration on that subject. Pushkin replied that idea of having this matter handled by conference was absolutely unacceptable.

On SEATO MacDonald told Pushkin that other four SEATO capitals had not yet responded regarding proposed SEATO formula. Explained that it takes time to negotiate all the arrangements. Pushkin remarked that he was beginning not to believe that we were really going to produce an acceptable formula.

Soviets apparently had subsequent talk with Indian Delegate Lall because he called MacDonald on morning Nov 11 to say that he thought the access article and the wording on ICC assisting in implementation neutrality declarations unnecessary. Lall also told MacDonald that ChiComs planning to ask for a plenary session of conference. MacDonald had heard nothing of this from Pushkin however. If Pushkin raises it, MacDonald intends to oppose the idea. In any event because of necessity 4 day advance notice for use interpreters and other facilities, session could not be held before Friday Nov 17.

MacDonald told Western delegations he feels conference prospects have dimmed in past three or four days because of Pushkin’s suspicions about SEATO formula and his violent reaction to resubmission of our wording on access and ICC assistance in implementation of neutrality declarations.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 751J.00/11–1261. Secret; Priority. Repeated to Bangkok, London, New Delhi, Ottawa, Paris, Saigon, Vientiane, and Moscow.
  2. November 4–5.