Memorandum of Conversation, by the Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs (Perkins)1

Participants: Ambassador Bonnet2
EUR—Mr. Perkins3
WE—Mr. O’Shaughnessy
[Page 696]

Ambassador Bonnet called today at my request. I told him that I had looked into the questions that he raised with me on January 11 regarding our plan for the recognition of Vietnam.4 I told him that the steps being considered in this connection were:

Announcement by the Secretary at an appropriate time after ratification of the March 8 Agreements by the French Assembly of de facto recognition of Vietnam as an associated state in the French Union.
The granting of appropriate rank and title to the Consul General at Saigon. Ambassador Bonnet asked whether the title would be a diplomatic one and I answered in the affirmative. I also said that we would probably consult with the British in this respect.
We are considering similar action with respect to Laos and Cambodia.

With respect to his inquiry regarding the possible application of some part of the $75 million fund provided for under section 303 of the MDAP Act5 I pointed out that the exact status of this fund was still rather vague. I said that it had been given to the President to dispose of and that the various government departments could do no more than make recommendations for its use. I also pointed out that since France was a beneficiary of the Act under title I it might not be possible legally to make use of these funds to the French and should this prove desirable we might explore the possibilities of using the Government of Vietnam as the recipient. M. Bonnet thought that there would be no objection to such a move. I stressed the fact that nothing that I could say in this respect could be considered in any way a commitment to make these funds available for use in Indochina but that we would, of course, be glad to give consideration to any suggestions which the French Government might have with regard to the best manner in which to improve the situation in that area.

M. Bonnet said that he was very grateful to have our views on the steps to be taken toward the recognition of Bao Dai. He stressed the importance of such recognition in strengthening Bao Dai’s hand and pointed out the strong proof of the latter’s independence that it would represent. He also said that he would secure from his Government some suggestions as to how aid could be given to Indochina.

G[eorge] W. P[erkins]
  1. Drafted by Elim O’Shaughnessy, Officer in Charge of French-Iberian Affairs.
  2. Henri Bonnet, French Ambassador in the United States.
  3. George W. Perkins, Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs
  4. A memorandum by Perkins of his conversation with Bonnet on January 11 read as follows: “During the course of my conversation with Ambassador Bonnet, he asked me what our intentions were in connection with the recognition of Bao Dai and said he hoped we would be able to recognize him. He also asked if any of the $75,000,000 appropriated by Congress for aid in the area of China would be available for help in Indochina. In reply to both questions I told Mr. Bonnet that I would look into the situation and would get in touch with him.” (751G.02/1–1150)
  5. Section 303 of the Mutual Defense Assistance Act of 1949 (63 Stat 714) authorized the expenditure by the President of $75 million for military aid in the “general area” of China. For documentation on overall aspects of the Mutual Defense Assistance Program, see volume i .