851G.01/3–2449: Telegram

The Ambassador in France (Caffery) to the Secretary of State

top secret

1210. Deptel 901, March 23.1 While Bao Dai’s “capacity” has been subject some discussion here, government has never publicly indicated what they consider his official position to be. Text of Auriol–Bao Dai agreements, however, clearly indicates that in French eyes he is Emperor of Vietnam. Until Vietnam nation comes into formal existence (Embtel 1120, March 18) his “capacity” remains debatable. (Department will recall that during 1948 Bollaert2–Bao Dai conversations at Geneva, Bao Dai communiqués repeatedly stated he was acting in his private capacity and that it was up to Vietnam population to choose by popular referendum when it became possible form of government they prefer, implication being that he would be equally happy as Emperor, Prime Minister, President, etc.)

Department now has complete text Auriol–Bao Dai agreements and will receive shortly text Pignon letter to Bao Dai on economic matters.3 Department will recall (Embtel 1119, March 18) that Devinat has undertaken to give full precisions of any point of the agreement on which Department remains in doubt.

Embassy has not yet seen Saigon’s 70 of March 18.4 In this connection request that during coming weeks Saigon’s telegrams be repeated to Paris by cable rather than by airgram.

  1. See footnote 4, p. 15.
  2. Émile Bollaert, former French High Commissioner in Indochina.
  3. March 15, transmitted in telegram 1234, March 25, 7 p. m., from Paris, not printed.
  4. Not printed.