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March 6, 1954

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

From the Journal of [Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav M.] Molotov, 6 March 1954: Secret Memorandum of Conversation between Molotov and [People’s Republic of China] PRC Ambassador [to the Soviet Union] Zhang Wentian, 6 March 1954


PRC Embassy Counsellor He Bao-Xian and [Soviet Foreign Ministry Collegium Member Nikolai T.] Fedorenko were present.

Zhang Wentian says that Cdes. [CCP CC Vice Chairman] Liu Shaoqi, [PRC Premier and Foreign Minister] Zhou Enlai, [PRC Vice-Chairman] Zhu De, and other CCP CC members have requested that their greetings be passed to Cde. Molotov.

Molotov thanks them.

Zhang Wentian reports that the PRC government and the Chinese people, noting the considerable success of the Soviet delegation at the Berlin Conference, support the decision adopted about convening the Geneva conference.

He says that, although the Americans will try to wreck the Geneva Conference, the representatives of the democratic camp will try to make full use of the conference in order to lessen international tensions.

He stresses that the PRC is intent on taking an active part in the Geneva Conference and thinks that if no great successes are achieved at it, then any success here will be important since a path for active participation in international affairs is being opened for the PRC.

Molotov expresses approval of the PRC's intention to take an active part in the Geneva Conference.

Zhang Wentian says that in connection with the Geneva Conference, Nam Il, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea minister of foreign affairs, arrived in Beijing on 5 March at the invitation of the PRC government.

He reports that the PRC government intends to prepare maximum and minimum positions [programmy] on the Korea question. The maximum position envisions the following proposals:

1. The creation of an all-Korean committee of representatives of North and South Korea on an equal basis to govern the country until the formation of an all-Korean government.

2.The holding of general elections.

3. The withdrawal of all foreign troops.

4. The unification of Korea.

In the event that this position is not adopted, propose a reduced position, namely: the preservation of the existing situation, the gradual withdrawal of foreign troops, and the regulation of economic, trade, and other relations between North and South Korea.

He noted that both these positions are based on the example of the position of the Soviet delegation at the Berlin Conference.

He says that the Indochina issue is more complex. Here we are talking about a cease-fire. However, the conditions for ending the war in Indochina are important. Accordingly there ought to be negotiations. This is a lengthy process.

Molotov says that, according to press reports, this process might last two or three months, but in the opinion of several foreign observers mentioned in the foreign press, it could drag out until November. The issue is complex, of course.

Zhang Wentian says that [Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal] Nehru's proposal about ?a cease-fire in place? is hardly acceptable since the conditions for ending the war are important.

He points out that it is necessary to halt American aid to Indochina, otherwise the war will drag out.

Molotov says that if the French want to reach agreement then it is of course necessary to know on what conditions.

Zhang Wentian reports that a proposal about a demarcation line at the 16th parallel exists. This proposal is to Democratic Republic of Vietnam's President Ho Chi Minh's advantage and it ought to be accepted if it is officially submitted.

He says that it is advisable to invite Ho Chi Minh to Beijing at the end of March. At this point the ambassador asks about the possibility of inviting Ho Chi Minh to Moscow for a discussion of the position at the Geneva Conference and also for a discussion of intra-party [sic] issues in the CSPU CC.

Molotov favors the possibility of inviting Ho Chi Minh to Moscow, but adds that the CPSU CC ought to discuss this issue.

With regard to the issue of an invitation to the Geneva Conference, Zhang Wentian speaks of the desirability of inviting representatives not only of democratic Vietnam during discussion of the issue of Indochina but also democratic Pathet Lao and Cambodia since the representatives of these three democratic countries are a counterbalance to an invitation to the three Associated States.2 Otherwise the Pathet Lao and Cambodian representatives will have to be included in the Vietnamese delegation.

Molotov says that this issue ought to be carefully considered.

Zhang Wentian explores the possibility of a discussion of other issues at the Geneva Conference such as, for example, the issues of Taiwan, the [re]armament of Japan, the US military agreement with Pakistan, and others.

Molotov says that the possibility of a discussion of these issues ought to be studied but it seems to him that such a possibility is by no means precluded.

Zhang Wentian reports that, bearing in mind the agreement of the four [foreign] ministers in Berlin,3 Zhou Enlai is preparing for a trip to Geneva to take part in the conference, considering that the representative of the Soviet Union will be Cde. Molotov.

Molotov acknowledges the agreement in Berlin on this issue and adds that possibly the ministers will not participate in the conference to the end since it will be protracted.

Zhang Wentian explains the advisability of the PRC, DPRK, and Vietnamese delegations coming to Moscow for several days in the middle of April (between the 10th and the 20th) to coordinate their positions at the Geneva Conference.

Molotov says that such a meeting would be necessary and useful for the matter.

He expresses confidence that the Chinese and Korean comrades are prepared to discuss the Korean issue in a suitable fashion inasmuch as they are better informed in this regard. He also expresses confidence that the issue of Indochina will be properly prepared by the Chinese and Vietnamese comrades, who have the appropriate opportunities to do this.

Zhang Wentian says that work in Beijing has already begun: personnel are already being selected, draft proposals [are being] developed, etc. He notes that the Chinese comrades are counting on aid from the Soviet side.

Molotov promises aid and talks of the need for joint efforts.

Referring to his lack of experience, Zhang Wentian asks that a competent USSR foreign ministry specialist be selected to help the Chinese diplomatic officials in Moscow by sharing experience in the organizational work at international conferences, the methods and techniques of bourgeois representatives, etc.

Molotov promises to grant this request and points out that the ambassador can deal with these issues with [Soviet First Deputy Foreign Minister] Cde. [Andrei A.] Gromyko, who has a great deal of experience in taking part in international conferences. He says that the work in the USSR foreign ministry to prepare for the Geneva Conference will be primarily done by Cdes. Gromyko, [Soviet Deputy Foreign Minister Vasily V.] Kuznetsov, Novikov, and Fedorenko.

Zhang Wentian reports that the PRC government has empowered him, Zhang Wentian, with maintaining constant contact with the USSR foreign ministry about questions of preparations for the Geneva Conference and has also included him in the PRC delegation to this Conference.

Molotov expresses approval.

Zhang Wentian touches on procedural issues at the Geneva Conference and is interested in particular in the possibility of Zhou Enlai chairing the conference and other things.

Molotov says that many procedural issues will arise at the Geneva Conference, the chairmanship, the staff, the premises [pomeshchenie], etc. Disputes and discussions are unavoidable. Consequently, it is necessary to make suitable preparations and develop our plan of action here.

Zhang Wentian is interested in the possibility of inviting representatives of neutral countries to the Geneva Conference, India in particular.

Molotov says that the composition of the participants on the Korean issue has been precisely determined but that this remains insufficiently clear regarding the Indochina issue, and serious disputes are possible here.

Regarding the question of inviting India, he says in that regard that its participation in the Geneva Conference is inadvisable since this could lead to a reduction of the role of the PRC which ought to be on par with the four other great powers, which India cannot claim to be. He notes, however, that some in foreign circles favor inviting India and Thailand about the Indochina issue and this question ought to be considered further.

The conversation lasted one hour.
Recorded by N. Fedorenko
Authenticated by Oleg Troyanovsky /signature/

Distributed [to]:
Cdes.Malenkov, Molotov, Khrushchev, Voroshilov, Bulganin, Kaganovich, Mikoyan, Saburov, Pervukhin

No 151/M

21 copies sent nf/tb

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.

Document Information


AVPRF f. 6, op. 13a, d. 25, II. 7. Obtained by Paul Wingrove and translated for CWIHP by Gary Goldberg. Published in CWIHP Bulletin #16.


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