851g.01/9–148

Memorandum of Conversation, by the Chief of the Division of Southeast Asian Affairs (Reed)

confidential

Mr. Daridan discussed at length the present situation in Indochina which he stated appeared to be deteriorating rapidly. He conceded that much of the difficulty in arriving at a solution of the Indochinese problem lay in France, owing to (1) the weakness of the successive French governments and (2) the fact that over-all direction of Indochina was in the hands of the Ministry of Overseas Affairs rather than in the more qualified hands of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In this connection [Page 41]he submitted that in his opinion the first step towards solving the Indochinese problem should be the transfer of Indochinese affairs from the former to the latter Ministry, and he added that anything this Government could do, informally or otherwise, to induce such a transfer would be of highest value in bringing about the desired solution. He said that he was sure that if a person such as Naggiar1 was appointed as High Commissioner and had the assistance of twenty qualified Foreign Office officials, Indochina would soon cease to be a problem, and he stressed that most of the present officials in Indochina, citing Messmer and others by name, had not only failed to contribute to the solution but had actively aggravated the situation.

  1. Paul-Émile Naggiar, former French Ambassador in China and in the Soviet union.