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Digital Archive International History Declassified

June 15, 1954

MINUTES OF CONVERSATION BETWEEN ZHANG WENTIAN AND HAROLD CACCIA

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    In this meeting, Caccia explains to Zhang that Britain firmly supports the withdrawal of all Viet Minh troops from Laos and Cambodia.
    "Minutes of Conversation between Zhang Wentian and Harold Caccia," June 15, 1954, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, PRC FMA 206-C0057, reprinted in Waijiaobu dang’anguan ed., Yijiuwusi nian Rineiwa huiyi (The Geneva Conference of 1954) (Beijing: Shijie zhishi chubanshe, 2006), 240-241. Translated by Zhao Han. https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/111498
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Time: 15 June 1954, 11:15 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
Attendees on the Chinese side: Zhang Wentian, Huan Xiang, Pu Shouchang (interpreter)
Attendees on the British side: Caccia, Ford (interpreter)

Caccia: Yesterday Mr. [Anthony] Eden and Mr. [Vyacheslav M.] Molotov discussed the Laos and Cambodia issues. We assume that Mr. Molotov had already informed the Chinese side because the current arrangement is to let every chair inform his partner respectively. However, this time Mr. Eden is especially eager to let the Chinese and Soviet delegations know the British delegation's position on the Laos and Cambodia issues so that [he could] remove all possibility that might cause suspicions.

Mr. Eden has already stated at the meeting that our basic position is that we insist that the Viet Minh troops should be withdrawn from Laos and Cambodia. Whether all the troops in these two countries are Viet Minh troops or a part of them are is a controversial question. However, it is confirmed that there are Viet Minh troops in these two countries. For us, the withdrawal of the Viet Minh troops is a matter of principle. We have already made arrangements here so that we can reach an agreement on this issue and thus solve the Laos and Cambodia issues in Geneva. The Ambassador reads newspapers as we do, you must have already known that Cambodia had already made an appeal to the United Nations several weeks ago. And now Laos is also considering taking the same action. We believe that it is much better to reach the solution here.

I will repeat again that we believe that it is much better to reach the solution here. If we can reach an agreement on the withdrawal of the invading troops, we cannot imagine that any participating countries will use such an agreement to establish [military] bases in Laos and Cambodia. On the contrary, Mr. Eden said that if we could reach an agreement, this agreement will be guaranteed by all participants. Now I will get back to the instructions from Mr. Eden. We definitely cannot compromise on the withdrawal of all invading troops. Mr. Eden asked me to explain to the ambassador, and also to inform the prime minister, that tomorrow's meeting on the Laos and Cambodia issues might be a very important one. If we can solve the problem on which we cannot compromise, Mr. Eden hopes that we will thereafter be able to solve the Laos and Cambodia issues and to let all participants guarantee this solution.

The advantage of our current conference is that it is a place of discussion, and in fact the Chinese delegation has already been here. I think that the ambassador must understand what I mean by this. We are glad to have the Chinese delegation here, and the Chinese delegation is already here. If [the conference] were held in another place, we would have had an undesirable situation.

My mission is to clarify the above points. I hope that I have accomplished it.

Zhang Wentian: We understand Britain's attitude. Mr. Eden has said that before at the meeting. What Mr. Caccia said today is the same.

You understand China's attitude as well. Foreign Minister Zhou [Enlai] stated it several times at the meetings.
I will report to Foreign Minister Zhou what Mr. Caccia said today.

At tomorrow's meeting, the Chinese delegation will present its own proposal concerning the Laos and Cambodia issues. This proposal will take into account Mr. Caccia's statement today.

Caccia: If Prime Minister Zhou wants to meet with Mr. Eden before tomorrow's meeting Mr. Eden will completely agree with that.

Zhang Wentian: I will also report to Foreign Minister Zhou about this.

Caccia: Please excuse me. I have to leave in a hurry because I need to accompany Mr. Eden to visit Mr. Molotov. Also, I borrowed Mr. Eden's car when I came.

Zhang Wentian: We don't need to be too polite with one another. We welcome your visit.

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