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Historical Dictionary

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GENEVA ACCORDS, LAOS (1954)

The Agreement on the Cessation of Hostilities in Laos was signed on 22 July 1954 by Ta Quang Buu for the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV) and French General Henri Delteil. This agreement required the French and the DRV to withdraw their forces and honor the cease-fire. The accords on Laos excluded all foreign bases in Laos except the French base at Séno and prohibited the introduction of foreign military personel into Laos, the sole exception being the maintenance of a French military training mission limited to 1,500 men. Unlike the situation in Cambodia, pressure from the Vietnamese and the Chinese succeeded in gaining provisional regrouping zones for the DRV’s Lao allies, the Pathet Lao. According to Article 14, Pathet Lao forces were allowed to be “concentrated in the provisional assembly areas” in the provinces of Phongsaly and Samneua “pending a political settlement”. Most French Union and DRV forces were evacuated from Laos by mid-November 1954, although the International Commission for Supervision and Control complained that the lack of cooperation from both sides made it hard for them to supervise the withdrawal. The exact political status of the two regrouping provinces “pending a political settlement” was left unclear in the accords and this proved to be a major point of contention among the Lao, regional, and international actors as civil and Cold wars broke out in Laos over the next few years. Did the two territories fall under the national territorial sovereignty of the Royal Lao Government? Or were they to be administered by the Pathet Lao as some sort of sub sovereign entity until a political settlement could be reached? The Royal Lao Government was convinced of its right to integrate the provinces into the national body whereas the Pathet Lao, backed by the DRV, eventually rejected this interpretation. See also ADVISORY GROUP 100; CHU HUY MAN; NGUYEN KHANG; NEUTRALIZATION OF INDOCHINA.