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Distributed for National University of Singapore Press

Britain and the Neutralisation of Laos

This study focuses on the Geneva conference on Laos of 1961-2, which Britain played a role in bringing about and bringing to a conclusion. It throws light on Britain's policy in Southeast Asia in what in some sense may be seen as the last of the decades in which its influence was crucial. It is the first book to make full use of the British archives on the conference.
 The book also bears on the history of Laos, of Vietnam, and of Southeast Asia more generally. The core of the Geneva Settlement was the neutralisation of Laos. That was, however, an argument for the United States to strengthen its commitment to Thailand and Vietnam. It could, moreover, be accepted by North Vietnam only if it did not prevent continued use of the Ho Chi Minh trail, through which it could sustain resistance in South Vietnam. Under such circumstances, the agreement on neutralisation, though elaborately negotiated, had little chance of success. In the longer term, however, it was not without its legacy, for the agreement played a part in developing the concept of a neutral Southeast Asia that ASEAN was later to advance.
 The book will interest in the various fields on which it touches, such as modern Southeast Asian history, the history of Laos, the Vietnam War, the Cold War, and international relations. It will, of course, be of especial interest to those studying Britain's policy at a time when Britain was increasingly anxious to reduce its commitments, but also as always to avert the escalation of the Cold War.

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Table of Contents

List of Abbreviations
Chapter One: Introduction
The objectives of the book
From Lan Xang to Laos
Dien Bien Phu
The first Geneva conference
Pathet Lao
Suvanna Phuma and coalition
The Konglae coup
The neighbours and the majors
Chapter Two: The Return of the Control Commission
Anglo-American differences
The Boun Oum government
India’s ‘bouncing’
The advent of the Kennedy Administration
A neutral nations commission
Chapter Three: The Agreement on a Conference
A political solution
The Thomson-Khrushchev exchange
Suvanna and Phumi in Phnom Penh
Kennedy’s meetings
Talks with the President
The Soviet reply
The officials’ talks
Officers in uniform
Chapter Four: The Co-Chairmen’s Message
Ceasefire conditions
Midnight conversation
The first ICC report
Inviting Sihanouk
The American package
Seating at the conference
Chinese and South Vietnamese
The Americans and the British
Chapter Five: The Opening of the Geneva Conference
Gromyko’s documents
Instructions for the ICC
The Vienna summit
Control proposals
The impact of Padong
The resumption of the conference
Prince Suvanna Phuma and Lord Home
Plan 5
Chapter Six: The Zurich Agreement
The communiqué
Phumi in Washington
MacDonald in London
The apprehensive Prime Minister
Conference procedures
Supporting Suvanna
The Paris consultation
Intensified diplomacy
The concept of paritition
Setting priorities
Chapter Seven: The Future Role of the Co-Chairment
Discussing and drafting
The Co-Chairmen’s responsibilities
The SEATO protocol
Laos and South Vietnam
Phumi and a Suvanna Phuma government
Chapter Eight: The Princes’ Meeting in Geneva
Persuading Phumi
The Filipinos and SEATO
Private armies
The Thais and SEATO
Talks in Viang Chan
Talks in Switzerland
Chapter Nine: The Invovlement of the Thais
The defence of Nam Tha
The question of sanctions
Drafting a ceasefire proclamation
Chapter Ten: The Conclusion of the Negotiations
The capture of Nam Tha
Sending troops to Thailand
The formation of a Cabinet
Preparations for reconvening the conference
The conclusion of the conference
The reports on the negotiations

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