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Digital Archive International History Declassified

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Geneva Conference of 1954

The Geneva Conference of 1954 was an international meeting in Switzerland involving the Soviet Union, the United States, France, the United Kingdom, China and the Viet Minh. The powers involved attempted to negotiate a settlement to end the conflict in Indochina and re-unify Vietnam. The conference also dealt unsuccessful with the problem of divided Korea. See also the First Indochinese War and the Vietnam War. (Image, Geneva Conference negotiations, US Army Photograph)

  • February 26, 1954

    Cable from the Communist Party of the Soviet Union Central Committee to CCP Central Committee, via Comrade Yudin

    Comrade Pavel Yudin asks the CCP to inform Comrade Ho Chi Minh that the discussion at the upcoming conference in Geneva will include the Korea question and restoring peace in Indochina.

  • March 02, 1954

    'Preliminary Opinions on the Assessment of and Preparation for the Geneva Conference,' Prepared by the PRC Ministry of Foreign Affairs (drafted by PRC Premier and Foreign Minister Zhou Enlai) [Excerpt]

    Zhou discusses the need to make agreements at the Geneva conference in order to open a path for discussion and negotiation with the west. Zhou notes that because the US, France and Britain are not united in their opinions, the CCP must hold fast to their positions on the peaceful unification of Korea, and of peace in Indochina. Finally, Zhou suggests that the CCP prepare to discuss issues of trade, relaxing international tensions, and breaking the US embargo, although these issues are not on the agenda.

  • March 06, 1954

    Telegram, PRC Ambassador to the Soviet Union, 'Reporting the Preliminary Opinions of Our Side on the Geneva Conference to the Soviet Side'

    Zhang Wentian discusses his visit with Molotov. During this meeting, Molotov says delegations from China, Korea, and Vietnam are welcome to Moscow before the Geneva conference to discuss its proceedings. Molotov also mentions several issues that still need to be discussed, such as relaxing tensions in Asia, Korean unification, ministers in attendance at the conference, and India's participation in the Indochina discussion.

  • March 06, 1954

    From the Journal of Molotov: Secret Memorandum of Conversation between Molotov and PRC Ambassador Zhang Wentian

    Soviet Foreign Minister Molotov and PRC Ambassador to the USSR Zhang Wentian discuss their respective views on the situations in Korea and Vietnam in preparation for the upcoming Geneva Conference.

  • March 11, 1954

    Telegram, Zhou Enlai to Ho Chi Minh (excerpt)

    Telegram from Zhou Enlai to Ho Chi Minh encouraging him to send a delegation to attend the Geneva Conference. According to Zhou Enlai important decisions will be made in Geneva, including decision on where the boundaries will be drawn in Vietnam.

  • March 12, 1954

    Report, Embassy of Hungary in North Korea to the Hungarian Foreign Ministry

    Report from Károly Pásztor, Hungarian envoy to the DPRK, regarding a conversation he had with Soviet Ambassador Suzdalev. He discusses the difficulties which would be involved in achieving Korean unification.

  • April 04, 1954

    Draft Memorandum, 'A Comprehensive Solution for Restoring Peace in Indochina,' Prepared by the Vietnam Group of the Chinese Delegation Attending the Geneva Conference

    The Vietnam group of the Chinese delegation offers a solution involving peaceful unification within Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam, so that these nations can govern themselves as independent, sovereign states.

  • April 06, 1954

    Telegram, Zhang Wentian to PRC Vice Foreign Minister Li Kenong, Concerning the Soviet Suggestion on Propaganda Work at Geneva

    Vasily Kuznetsov tells Zhang Wentian to work more on creating propaganda and diplomatic activities to expand the influence of New China.

  • April 20, 1954

    Transcript, Zhou Enlai's presentation at the meeting of members of the Chinese delegation attending the Geneva Conference (excerpt), 5:00 a.m.

    In his presentation Zhou Enlai is encourages fellow communist countries who are to participate in the Geneva Conference to work together and perform well on the international stage.

  • April 23, 1954

    Telegram, Zhou Enlai to CCP CC Chairman Mao Zedong, CCP CC Vice Chairman Liu Shaoqi, and the Central Committee of the CCP, concerning Soviet Premier Georgy M. Malenkov’s conversation with Zhou Enlai about the Vietnam Issue

    Zhou Enlai describes his meeting with Khrushchev, Malenkov, and other Soviet officials. The Soviets agree with the CCP position on Indochina, and will give their opinion of China’s draft constitution in four months.

  • April 26, 1954

    Telegram, Zhou Enlai to Mao Zedong and Others, Regarding Speeches at the Conference and the Situation at the First Plenary Session

    Zhou Enlai reports on some last minute agreements regarding the conference procedures. It is decided that the Korean delegation will speak first, and that Thailand, Britain, and the Soviet Union will take turns chairing the conference.

  • April 28, 1954

    Telegram, Zhou Enlai to Mao Zedong, Liu Shaoqi, and CCP Central Committee (excerpt)

    In his telegram, Zhou Enlai informs Mao Zedong, Liu Shaoqi, and CCP Central Committee about the first days of the Geneva Conference. Discussion on the Korea question has already entered a deadlock and it seems that the Chinese, French, and Russian delegations have arranged to meet outside the conference to discuss Indochina.

  • May 01, 1954

    Telegram, Zhou Enlai to Mao Zedong and Others, Regarding a Meeting with British Foreign Secretary Eden

    Zhou Enlai, Molotov, and Eden discuss the Korea issue, the Indochina issue, Sino-British relations, British-American relations, and the issue of five powers.

  • May 09, 1954

    Telegram, CCP Central Committee to Zhou Enlai, Reply to Zhou Enlai’s 9 May 1954 Telegram

    The CCP informs Zhou Enlai that they agree with his opinions on the international committee.

  • May 09, 1954

    Telegram, Zhou Enlai to Mao Zedong and Others, Regarding the Situation of the First Plenary Session

    Zhou Enlai recaps the Indochina discussion that took place at the Geneva conference. Participants discussed a ceasefire, and supervision by an international committee. Enlai notes that his suggestion to invite the resistance governments in Laos and Cambodia to attend the conference produced debate.

  • May 12, 1954

    Telegram, Zhou Enlai to Mao Zedong and Others, Regarding the Second Plenary Session (Excerpt)

    Zhou Enlai reports mainly on the second session of the Indochina issue. Participants are divided on the issue of a ceasefire. The Republic of Vietnam's Pham Van Dong agrees that the releasing of sick and wounded POWs will include both French and Vietnamese troops.

  • May 13, 1954

    Telegram, Zhou Enlai to Wei Guoqing, and report to the CCP Central Committee (excerpt)

    In this telegram Zhou Enlai informs Wei Guoqing and the CCP Central Committee that the Western countries have raised the question of sick and wounded soldiers at Dien Bien Phu and are criticizing the Soviet Union. Enlai wants to counter the enemy plots with propaganda, but in the meantime thinks it would be better if some captured senior officers issued statements concerning the "humanist measures" being taken by their captors - but not by force.

  • May 14, 1954

    Telegram, Zhou Enlai to Mao Zedong and Others, Regarding the Situation at the Tenth Plenary Session

    Zhou Enlai reports on Eden's proposals at the tenth session on Korea. Eden focuses on elections based on the population distributions in North and South Korea, international supervision, and foreign troop withdrawal.

  • May 14, 1954

    Minutes of Conversation between Zhou Enlai and Anthony Eden

    Zhou Enlai and Anthony Eden discuss Geneva Conference proceedings related to the Korea and Indochina issues. Zhou expresses concerns for the French proposal on Indochina and states that China supports the North Vietnamese proposal. Zhou and Eden agree that a military armistice should be decided on, although they disagree on specific issues surrounding an armistice.

  • May 15, 1954

    Telegram, Zhou Enlai to Mao Zedong and Others, Requesting Instructions on the Korean Issue and Regarding the Situation at the Fourth Plenary Session on the Indochina Issue

    Zhou Enlai reports to the CCP on his meeting with Anthony Eden, the fourth plenary session on Indochina, and his meeting with the Soviet and Korean representatives. During the fourth session, representatives from Russia and France spoke on their positions on the armistice in Indochina.