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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)

  • July 03, 1954

    Main points, Zhou Enlai's presentations at the Liuzhou Conference (excerpt)

    A summary of the main points of Zhou Enlai's presentations given at the Liuzhou Conference July 3-5. Zhou touches on the topic of crucial questions the communist parties are facing, Korea and US intervention, and conditions for armistice.

  • July 04, 1954

    Telegram, Zhou Enlai to Mao Zedong, Liu Shaoqi and the CCP Central Committee, 'A Brief Report on the Meetings at Liuzhou'

    Zhou reports on his meeting in Liuzhou with Viet Minh General Vo Nguyen Giap and military advisor to the VWP Comrade Wei Guoqing. Both men made reports. Zhou then discussed issues at the Geneva Conference.

  • July 05, 1954

    Transcript, Ho Chi Minh's presentation at the Liuzhou Conference (excerpt)

    In his speech to the Liuzhou Conference, Ho Chi Minh thanks Premier Zhou for helping the Communist Party of Indochina. Ho Chi Minh then goes on to talk about the situation in Vietnam, and how they should be pursuing peace, but preparing for both war.

  • July 05, 1954

    From the Journal of V. V. Vaskov, 27 August 1954: Top Secret Memorandum of Conversation with Comrade Mao Zedong on 5 July 1954

    Soviet Charge d’Affaires in Beijing V.V. Vaskov and Comrade Mao Zedong discuss the Soviet plans to take advantage of the changing situation in France. Mao mentions that Zhou is meeting with Ho Chi Ming and Vo Nguyen Giap in Guanxi and won't be able to come to Geneva until July 12-13. The topic of conversation then shifts to the US and a recent meeting between US President Eisenhower and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. Mao notes that there is a diverge between Eisenhower and Churchill regarding the desirability of a dialogue with the Communists. Mao says that the US has dispersed its forces far and wide, so they are trying to resurrect West Germany and Japan.

  • July 06, 1954

    Telegram, PRC Foreign Ministry to Li Kenong, Zhang Wentian, and Wang Jiaxiang

    Zhou safely returns to Beijing.

  • July 06, 1954

    Telegram, Zhou Enlai to Li Kenong (excerpt)

    In this telegram Zhou Enlai instructs Li Kenong to travel with Molotov to Geneva because Zhou needs to remain in Beijing to receive instructions from the Central Committee before leaving for Geneva.

  • July 07, 1954

    Telegram, Li Kenong to Mao Zedong and Others, Regarding the Situation at the Twenty-First Restricted Session

    Li reports on the 21st restricted session on Indochina. Li states China's position, which has been consistent, on the NNSC and joint commission. Li notes that the French now lean toward his side regarding Indochina. Li is asked to clarify a point by the French and Cambodian delegates, and the Laotian delegate makes a statement.

  • July 10, 1954

    Telegram, Li Kenong to Mao Zedong and Others, Regarding the Situation at the Twenty-Second Restricted Session

    Li reports on the 22nd restricted session on Indochina. During the meeting, the American and Cambodian delegates state the necessity for defensive weapons in Cambodia and Laos. Li states that the issue of weapons should only be discussed based on certain principles: self-defense only, prohibition of foreign bases, and the countries’ relationship with France. After the Vietnamese and French delegates spoke, the Cambodian delegate made clear Cambodia’s intentions regarding weapons and defense.

  • July 10, 1954

    From the Journal of Molotov: Secret Memorandum of Conversation at Dinner in Honor of Mendes-France, French Prime Minister and Foreign Minister

    Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav M. Molotov and French Prime Minister Mendes-France discuss the upcoming Geneva Convention at a dinner in honor of Mendes-France. The two then discuss Vietnam and Mendes-France’s planned meeting with Vietnamese (DRV) foreign minister Pham Van Dong, as well as a possible redefining of the demarcation line between North and South Vietnam.

  • July 11, 1954

    Telegram, Zhou Enlai to Mao Zedong, Liu Shaoqi, and convey to Ho Chi Minh (excerpt)

    In this telegram Zhou Enlai first recounts his meeting with leaders of the Soviet Party and their discussion on the topic of the Geneva Conference. In the second part he says that the communist side has not proposed concession on the question of dividing zones, and lastly Zhou says that he will be leaving soon for Geneva to meet with Molotov and Eden before the conference resumes.

  • July 13, 1954

    Minutes of Zhou Enlai’s Meeting with Jean Chauvel

    Chauvel presents Zhou with a draft agreement for a cease-fire in Indochina. Chauvel notes that the issue of armed forces limitation should be discussed by the entire conference, and that the draft has been handed out to all the delegations for suggested additions and corrections.

  • July 13, 1954

    Minutes of Conversation between Zhou Enlai and Anthony Eden

    Zhou describes his meeting with Mendes-France and his trip to visit India to Eden. Zhou mentions the Sino-Indian and Sino-Burmese statements, and asks Eden to consider them a binding statement that China has no designs on Indochina, contrary to American suspicions. The two also discuss the upcoming meeting of Mendes-France with Pham Van Dong, and the possibility for progress during this meeting.

  • July 13, 1954

    Minutes, Zhou Enlai's Meeting with Mendès-France (Excerpt)

    The minutes of the meeting between Zhou Enlai and Pierre Mendès-France. The topic of the discussion mostly revolves around the question of the demarcation line in Vietnam and the progress of the Geneva Conference.

  • July 14, 1954

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

    In this telegram Zhou Enlai informs Mao Zedong, Liu Shaoqi, and the CCP Central Committee that Mendès-France hopes to reach an agreement by July 20 and insists that concessions be made in regards to the demarcation line.

  • July 15, 1954

    Telegram, Zhou Enlai to Mao Zedong, Liu Shaoqi, and the CCP Central Committee, Regarding meeting with Tep Phan (Minister of Foreign Affairs, Head of the Cambodian delegation)

    In this telegram Zhou Enlai informs Mao Zedong, Liu Shaoqi, and the CCP Central Committee, about his meeting with the Cambodian Foreign Minister Tep Phan.

  • July 15, 1954

    Telegram, Zhou Enlai to Wei Guoqing (excerpt)

    In this telegram Zhou Enlai informs Wei Guoqing that a ceasefire is in the works and asks him to propose to the Vietnamese side to that they work out a plan for withdrawal of the People's Army.

  • July 15, 1954

    From the Journal of Molotov: Secret Memorandum of Conversation at Dinner in Honor of French Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Mendes-France

    The discussion between Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav M. Molotov and French Prime Minister Pierre Mendes-France begin with talk of the draft and revisions of the French delegation’s proposal for the Geneva Convention. Elections in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia and the line of demarcation between North and South Vietnam are discussed as well.

  • July 16, 1954

    From the Journal of Molotov: Secret Memorandum of Conversation with Zhou Enlai and Pham Van Dong

    Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav M. Molotov describes his earlier conversations with British Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden and French Prime Minister Pierre Mendes-France to Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai and Vietnamese Vice-Premier Pham Van Dong. Eden told Molotov in their conversation that he preferred military issues to be primarily in the cease-fire agreement between Vietnam and France, rather than in France’s draft of its Geneva Conference declaration. Molotov’s discussion with Mendes-France dealt with elections in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia, the line of demarcation between North and South Vietnam, and the withdrawal of foreign troops from Vietnam.

  • July 17, 1954

    Minutes, Zhou Enlai’s Conversation with Mendes-France (Exerpt)

    Mendes-France and Enlai discuss the Indochina issue during their first meeting together. Both men feel they are in agreement with each other regarding several points (establishing a cease-fire before discussing political issues, that no US military bases should be established in Indochina, elections in Cambodia and Laos, cooperation between France and Vietnam and between the two sides in Vietnam). They end on a positive note, both sure that their few differences of opinion will be worked out.

  • July 17, 1954

    From the Journal of Molotov: Top Secret Memorandum of Conversation with Zhou Enlai and Pham Van Dong

    Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav M. Molotov, Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai, and Vietnamese Vice-Premier Pham Van Dong discuss various topics relevant to the Geneva Convention, including the construction of foreign military bases in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia, the line of demarcation between North and South Vietnam, the establishment of regrouping zones in northeast Laos, the withdrawal of foreign troops from Indochina, and the possible formation of an international supervisory commission.