Oral Statement by Chairman Khrushchev to President Kennedy
Moscow, January 4, 1963.
Upon his return from the USA, A.I. Mikoyan told me that during your talk with him you took up, among other problems, the question of Laos.
We reached an agreement with you in Vienna that Laos would be neutral and independent. The subsequent exchange of views on the Laos question, which took place unofficially between us after Vienna, in my opinion, also was held in a spirit of necessary mutual understanding and contributed to the success of the Geneva conference on Laos.
What was accomplished as a result of the activity of this international conference is highly important. The Geneva agreements on Laos not only reestablished peace in that country and created the bases for its development along the path of neutrality and independence but also showed that, when the countries concerned desire settlement, all kinds of international problems can be resolved, especially if the USSR and the USA join forces in the interest of clearing up centers of tension. It is now important that the agreements on Laos be fully implemented.
As a result of the protracted civil war, the Laos of today has inherited a series of internal problems which must be settled between the three political forces of the nation. We proceeded, and are proceeding, from the premise that these internal problems must be resolved by the Laotians themselves, without any interference from outside. However, it must be recognized that the difficulties in resolving certain Laotian internal problems complicate considerably the full implementation of the Geneva agreements on Laos.
It is true that some success has now been achieved in settling the internal problems in Laos. Specifically, the recent agreement reached by the three factions in Laos on the subject of the unification of their armed forces and police is an indubitable step forward. However, such progress has not been noted in all the problems that require solution. The main obstacle on this path is still the unsurmounted distrust among the factions in Laos, which arose during the period of hostilities in that country. During the period of the armed struggle such a large amount of suspicion and mutual distrust accumulated that to remove it will require time and appropriate efforts and not only on the part of the Laotians.
You implied that the Democratic People's Republic of Viet-Nam had not withdrawn all its troops from Laos. But the Government of the Democratic People's Republic of Viet-Nam informed us that all the Vietnamese personnel had been completely withdrawn from Laos and that there are no Vietnamese troops there now. In this connection, I should like also to call your attention to the joint Laos-Viet-Nam communique, issued after the stay in Hanoi of the Laos Government delegation, headed by General Nosavan. In this communique it was stated that, in accordance with the Geneva agreement, the Government of the Democratic People's Republic of Viet-Nam had withdrawn from Laos all of its military personnel which was sent there at the request of the government of Prince Souvanna Phouma. The Laos Government delegation declared its satisfaction with the policy of the Government of the Democratic People's Republic of Viet-Nam, as outlined above, and expressed its trust in it.
At the same time, our friends say that up to now the USA has by no means removed all of its military personnel from Laos, but [merely] dressed some of its military personnel in civilian clothes and left them in that country. They also point out that in the territory of Laos there are still some adherents of Chiang-Kai-shek. They report that American aircraft after the conclusion of Geneva agreements still continue to fly without the permission of the Laos Government over the territory of Laos and drop guerilla groups and arms.
The absence of a settlement of a series of internal problems and the distrust still prevailing engender undesirable incidents such as, for example, the loss of an American airplane in the Plaine des Jarres. Certainly, that was a sad incident, it cost men's lives, it brought sorrow to their families. It demonstrates once more the necessity of creating in Laos a situation in which such incidents could not take place.
I think that a great deal in this connection depends on all the countries party to the Geneva agreements on Laos, including the USA, contributing to their implementation by observing their conditions exactly and thus making it possible for the Laotians to resolve their internal problems.
In so far as the Soviet Union is concerned, I must tell you that our Government is doing everything possible to ensure the implementation of the Geneva agreements. In conversations with Souvanna Phouma, with Prince Souvanavong and, quite recently, with General Nosavan, all of whom at various times came to the Soviet Union, we tried to emphasize the necessity of their getting along with each other and of finding a common language. We insistently recommended to them that they faithfully carry out the Geneva agreements, that they quickly resolve their internal political problems on the basis of the political program of the coalition government, which program they themselves approved, that they not permit violation of the peace in Laos, and that they show the necessary restraint.
In view of the urgent need of Laos to rebuild its economy which was wrecked by the war, the Soviet Government complied with the request of the coalition Government of Laos and decided to grant it certain economic assistance in accordance with the principles of the Geneva agreements. You undoubtedly are aware that we transferred to the coalition Government of Laos our planes which carried freight from the Democratic People's Republic of Viet-Nam to Laos.
I think that you will agree that the strengthening of peace in Laos is indissolubly bound up with the situation in the neighboring countries. But I want to tell you frankly that the policy the USA is now following in South Viet-Nam in no way promotes the normalization of the situation in Laos. I have in mind the presence and extensive use of American troops in South Viet-Nam. The tension on the Cambodian borders should also be given consideration.
Guided by our desire to improve the situation in Southeast Asia, we, for example, supported the proposal of Prince Norodom Sihanouk to convene an international conference for the purpose of concluding an agreement that would guarantee the independence, neutrality, and territorial integrity of Cambodia. I have learned that this proposal of Prince Sihanouk has not yet met with the support of the USA.
These are the considerations that I wanted to express in connection with what A.I. Mikoyan said to you about Laos. Our earnest desire is that Laos be a peaceful, neutral, and independent nation and that the Geneva agreements on Laos be observed, which we consider would constitute great progress toward maintaining peace in Southeast Asia and a good example of how, if all interested nations strive to reach the same goal, that of peace, they can always find a common language and come to an agreement.