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The French seized Dienbienphu in order to put pressure on the French effort in nearby Laos. They built a fortress there in the hope of drawing the Vietminh into a set-piece battle. Both the French and the Americans thought that Dienbienphu could be held indefinitely. The French and the Americans failed to anticipate that, with great ingenuity, Giap’s forces would be able to bombard the fortress from the surrounding high ground. Thousands of peasant volunteers had dismantled heavy, long-range guns and taken them piece by piece up into the surrounding hills.

Why was the conference called? Why was the 1954 Geneva conference held? Armistice Halt to fighting, but not yet a peace treaty. Key term • An armistice had finally ended three years of bitter fighting in Korea, so the time seemed ripe to try to end the fighting in French Indochina. • Stalin had died and the new Soviet leaders wanted to show that they were keen to decrease Cold War tension. • Keen to woo France away from the Western alliance, Moscow was willing to give France concessions over Indochina.

Meanwhile, Zhou was equally determined to gain a settlement that would keep the Americans out of Indochina and as far away from China as possible. Zhou was willing to sacrifice comrade Ho in the interests of China, especially when it made him and his country look peace-loving, moderate and statesmanlike. c) The Geneva Accords (1954) In the Geneva Accords, the Vietminh, in effect represented by Zhou, agreed with France that: Geneva Accords Agreements reached at Geneva in 1954 by France, China, Ho Chi Minh and the USSR, that Vietnam should be temporarily divided, with national elections held in 1956.

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