98. Telegram From the Department of State to the Delegation to the Conference on Laos0

Fecon 22. Ref: Confe 421 and 44.2 Eyes Only Harriman from Secretary.

Agree with your analysis and proposed line of action on issue of Co-Chairmen’s instructions to ICC. Believe you should stand firmly behind British and French position and assist them to mobilize maximum support from other members of Conference. It is of first importance to get this issue thoroughly clarified in debate at Conference table, particularly if there is substantial agreement outside Sino-Soviet bloc that effective cease fire and effectiveness of future control machinery are indispensable to any possible successful outcome.

Whether Conference should be formally broken off would seem to me to turn upon two factors taken together. The first is the issue covered above. The second is significant military action in Laos indicating intention to continue takeover despite cease fire and existence of Conference. Debate on the issue in Geneva, standing alone, does not provide a convincing base for prompt reference Laotian question to UN and immediate consideration SEATO or other action. But issue joined in Geneva debate plus further aggression on ground do provide such base.

Suggest that issue be vigorously debated when Conference resumes on Monday but that, in absence of military action in Laos, debate not lead to adjournment sine die of Conference prior to Vienna meeting.

So long as Conference is in session, other side would have to accept full responsibility for renewal significant military activity. Meanwhile, Canadians and Indians might be persuaded to get ICC in Laos to exercise fully its authority. This could commit India further and impose some additional restraint on other side in Laos. Longer range implications of issue of effective cease fire fully understood here and intergovernmental discussion will be possible during President’s and my visits this coming week.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 751J.00/5–2561. Top Secret; Niact. Drafted and approved by Rusk and cleared by U. Alexis Johnson, McConaughy, and Usher. Repeated priority to Vientiane eyes only for Ambassador Brown and priority to USUN eyes only for Stevenson.
  2. Document 97.
  3. See footnote 2, Document 97.