The Pentagon Papers
Document 86, Telegram from Walter Bedell Smith to Secretary of State Dulles on the Negotiations, 18 July 1954, pp. 563-65.
TO: Secretary of States
NO: SECTO 654, July 18, 11 p.m.
Twenty-third Indochina restricted session Sunday, July 18, Molotov presiding. This session called at urgent request Soviets; French and British had requested that participants be confined to chiefs of del plus one adviser. This latter relaxed to permit two advisers.
Molotov spoke first, noting that last meeting of Foreign Ministers held on June 19, just one month ago. He believed that today's session presented good opportunity to gauge importance of period which had passed since last meeting and work performed by deputies. He believed that results achieved through private meetings and discussions had been not (repeat not) inconsiderable. Of course, not (repeat not) all of the questions had been resolved nor everything done which had to be done, but one should recognize the value of what had been achieved.
Molotov said first of all he wished to note that as far as the most complicated problem was concerned, that of peace in Indochina, a basis for reestablishment of peace had been achieved as a result private negotiations which had opened possibility of agreement on that question. He believed all participants would attach appropriate significance to this accomplishment. He felt it was also important to recognize the work done with reference to establishment of peace in Laos and Cambodia. In this connection, it is perhaps true that everything had not (repeat not) been done that could be done but it appeared conference was on way to agreement concerning Laos and Cambodia.
Molotov said that all this shows recent private talks have had success and he expressed belief that such success would continue.
Describing situation as it appeared to him, Molotov noted that drafts for agreements on cessation of hostilities in Vietnam and Laos had been presented to conference. Two drafts would be available today. The same was also true for Cambodia. He hoped parties concerned would display goodwill necessary to agree on unresolved points in these drafts.
Molotov noted also were two drafts of Geneva conference declaration dealing with important political matters.
Two drafts have also been presented concerning the question of international control pertaining to implementation of the agreements. Question of control commission has long been discussed and Molotov felt that final agreement on this subject would not (repeat not) require great deal of time.
Molotov concluded by saying that he had made these observations in order to give general picture of the conference at present and that his remarks were naturally not (repeat not) complete. He believed that today's meeting could make progress re the questions under discussion and would contribute to solution of problems facing conference.
After long pause Tran Van Do (Vietnam) spoke next, saying he had learned this morning that today's meeting was to review final declaration of Geneva conference. In order to avoid any misunderstanding, he wished to state firmly that Vietnam del could not (repeat not) associate itself with any discussion of this declaration. Vietnam position based on following points:
1. Vietnam does not agree to conditions advanced for cessation of hostilities.
2. Vietnam delegation has not (repeat not) as yet advanced proposals on behalf of Vietnam Government for solution of problem based on principles of peace, independence and unity.
With regard point number one, Do referred to French draft of July 16 of conference declaration (SECTO 628 repeated Paris 74, Saigon 46). This draft spoke of division of Vietnam into zones. For example, article 6 said settlement must permit Vietnamese people enjoy fundamental liberties guaranteed by democratic institutions formed following free elections supervised by international commission. Elections would take place when in opinion of competent representative authorities in each zone restoration of peace in country has made sufficient progress, et cetera. Article 7 speaks of a settlement which would give Vietnamese people right decide freely as to zone where residence desired.
Vietnamese representative next referred to Soviet draft of July 15 (SECTO 615, repeated Paris 63, Saigon 35). Article 8 of Soviet draft speaks of "consultation between competent representative authorities of northern and southern zones of Vietnam." Article 10 states that representative authorities in northern and southern zones of Vietnam, as well as authorities of Laos and Cambodia, will not permit persecution of persons who have collaborated with other side.
In view Vietnamese delegation, this indicates that Vietnam will be divided into north and south zones. Everyone is talking of the division of Vietnam and mention is even made of parallels at which division will be accomplished. Delegation of Vietnam can only protest the idea of partition. Based on point number one cited earlier in statement of Vietnamese representative, Vietnamese delegation flatly rejects both drafts submitted to conference.
Vietnamese representative then stated that Vietnamese delegation has not had opportunity, on behalf of new Vietnamese Government, to express own views. It reserves its right to submit a draft declaration and to elaborate on it at a plenary meeting in near future. Vietnamese delegation therefore requests a plenary meeting for this. Do noted further that there was no mention of State of Vietnam in either French or Soviet drafts. Vietnamese delegation cannot accept declaration or agreement where Vietnam, which invited to conference as existing state, not even mentioned.
After pause following Molotov's request for other speakers, General made following statement:
"If no one else desires to speak, I think it would be helpful if I made clear position of US in these last critical days of conference. I do this because I have recently seen the advance drafts submitted to the conference and have had a chance to review them.
"One position of the United States with respect to this conference has consistently been that it is willing to assist, where desired, in arriving at a just and honorable settlement which will contribute to the establishment and maintenance of peace in the area. The United States is not a belligerent in this conflict and it has not and will not seek to impose its views in any way upon the belligerents, who are the parties primarily interested.
"If the agreements arrived at here are of a character which my government is able to respect, the United States is prepared to declare unilaterally that, in accordance with its obligations under the United Nations Charter, and particularly Article 11(4), it will refrain from the threat or the use of force to disturb them, and would view any renewal of the aggression in violation of the agreements with grave concern.
Since no other representatives requested floor following General Smith's statement, Molotov suggested intermission. After intermission had lasted for 45 minutes, it was informally agreed that meeting should be adjourned without return-ing to conference room. No communique issued.
Comment: Today's restricted session strangest performance to date. Apparent Molotov had not set stage even with Communist colleagues for any particularly important announcement despite his insistence that meeting be called. Molotov had said to Mendes-France just before meeting that he thought would be well underline progress made and to show how close conference was to reaching agreement.
During recess, Chou En-lai said he had no desire make any statement. He seemed as much in dark as everyone else as to why Soviets had called meeting.
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