Indochina - Preparations for the Indochina Phase of the Geneva Conference: Statement by the President, May 5, 1954 (1)

With the return of the Secretary of State from Geneva, there will of course be a series of conferences on foreign affairs both within the Executive Department and between Secretary of State and bipartisan groups of the Congress. Because of these forthcoming conferences and the probability that the Secretary of State will himself have something to say, and because, also, of the delicate nature of the issues now pending before the Geneva Conference, I shall limit my comments on the Indochina situation to a brief written statement.

United States foreign policy has consistently supported the principles on which was founded the United Nations. A basic expression of this policy was the Vandenberg Resolution of 1948. The United States believes in assuring the peace and integrity of nations through collective action and, in pursuance of the United Nations principle, has entered into regional security agreements with other nations. Examples are the Inter-American Agreement, the NATO Agreement, and a whole series of pacts in the Pacific.(2) These arrangements are invariably to assure the peaceful security of the contracting nations and to prevent likelihood of attack; they are not arrangements designed primarily for waging war.

The Geneva Conference, now 9 days old, has produced no surprises. The expressed fears of some have proved unfounded.

It has not been a "five-power" conference as the Soviet Union tried to make it.

It has not involved establishing express or implied diplomatic recognition by the United States of the Chinese Communist aggressors.

The Korean phase of the Conference has been organized. Here the Communists came up with a scheme for Korean unification which was a Chinese copy of the Soviet scheme for the unification of Germany.(3) Under their proposal no election measures could be taken without Communist consent, and there could be no impartial supervision of the election conditions or of the voting.

This scheme was rejected for Germany.(4) Secretary Dulles tells me that it is equally unacceptable to the Republic of Korea and United Nations members which took part in the Korean War under the United Nations Command now represented at Geneva

The Indochina phase of the Conference is in process of being organized and the issues have not yet been clarified. In this matter a large measure of initiative rests with the Governments of France, Viet-Nam, Laos, and Cambodia, which are the countries most directly concerned.

Meanwhile plans are proceeding for the realization of a Southeast Asia security arrangement. This was publicly suggested by Secretary Dulles in his address of March 29. Of course, our principal allies were advised in advance. This proposal of the Secretary of State was not a new one; it was merely reaffirmation of the principles that have consistently guided our postwar foreign policy and a reminder to interested Asian friends that the United States was prepared to join with others in the application of these principles to the threatened area. Most of the free nations of the area and others directly concerned have shown affirmative interest, and conversations are actively proceeding.

Obviously, it was never expected that this collective security arrangement would spring into existence overnight. There are too many important problems to be resolved. But there is a general sense of urgency. The fact that such an organization is in process of formation could have an important bearing upon what happens at Geneva during the Indochina phase of the Conference.

The countries of the area are now thinking in constructive terms, which include the indispensable concept of collective security. Progress in this matter has been considerable and I am convinced that further progress will continue to be made.

(1) Made at a news conference; Department of State Bulletin, May 17, 1954 Back

(2) Treaties of Aug. 30, 1951, with the Philippines, Sept. 1, 1951, with Australia and New Zealand, Sept. 8, 1951, with Japan, and Oct. 1, 1953, with Korea. Back

(3) See North Korean proposal of Apr. 27, 1954; The Korean Problem at the Geneva Conference, April 26-June 16, 1964 (Department of State publication 5609; 1954), pp 39-40. Back

(4) Cf. Soviet proposal of Feb. 4, 1954, for the unification of Germany; Foreign Ministers Meeting: Berlin Discussions, January 26-February 18, 1964 (Department of State publication 5399; 1954), pp. 228-229. See also Secretary Dulles' address of Feb. 24, 1954; supra, pp. 85-90. Back

American Foreign Policy 1950-1955
Basic Documents Volumes I and II
Department of State Publication 6446
General Foreign Policy Series 117
Washington, DC : U.S. Governemnt Printing Office, 1957

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