851G.01/3–649: Telegram

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

secret

928. Embassy has for some time made broad hints to Foreign Office and Ministry Overseas France that sooner we received text Bao Dai agreement sooner US Government could make decision as to what, if any, degree support it would give proposed solution. Upon receipt Deptel 598,1 Devinat2 was directly requested furnish advance copy and a favorable response is expected shortly. Accord is still being worked on and will be signed (and probably published) Tuesday.

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Embassy is frankly reluctant, until agreement has been studied in Department and outcome Assembly debate is known, abandon wait-and-see attitude it has so far maintained. It has always been made quite clear to all concerned here that US judgment is reserved until all facts have been considered. Furthermore, French decision to postpone session Cochin-China until after Bao Dai’s return makes it illogical for French to expect us to be more forward than themselves. However, French could logically consider démarche proposed reference telegrams as negative prejudgment whole Bao Dai experiment which at present time is only non-Communist solution in sight. Démarche would certainly become known and arouse fears (or in certain quarters) that US was veering towards compromise with Ho Chi Minh thus threatening to upset teetering political applecart on eve of Assembly debate where every word spoken by a deputy will be weighted for its effect on his party’s electoral position in Cantonals.

Under circumstances I respectfully request Department’s authorization defer proposed démarche preferably until such time as Foreign Office may seek our support.3

Sent Department, repeated Saigon 27.

Caffery
  1. February 25, p. 8.
  2. Paul Devinat, vice president of the Committee of Overseas Territories, French National Assembly.
  3. The Department gave its approval to this in telegram 743, March 9, 4 p. m. (19 to Saigon).