751G.02/1–2950: Telegram

The Consul General at Saigon (Abbott) to the Secretary of State


65. From Jessup. Just returned from Hanoi where read message Bao Dai 27th and left copy in French and English.1 He made no formal reply and merely asked me to transmit thanks to Secretary. Text carried local press Hanoi morning 28th without comment. Bao Dai handed me comprehensive memo re Point Four and which is being pouched.2 Introductory part contains surprisingly accurate appreciation both UN and US programs. Memo includes detailed specific requests for aid on which Abbott will report later. Striking aspect is emphasis on need military aid. This gave me opportunity at second interview morning 28th to stress cooperation aspect of whole program and necessity continuing reliance on French. Bao Dai stressed desire close US ties and this theme repeated by other officials in response to which I kept stressing need for cooperation with French also. Our reception was very elaborately planned with tremendous display of special street banners of welcome in English and American flags flying all through city even in parts which were not cleared and prepared for my visit. Gibson3 remarks preparation much more [Page 703]elaborate and pro-American feeling much more evident than preparation and British feeling when MacDonald was here.4

Bao Dai makes favorable impression sincerity and understanding of problems but not of great force or great strength. Chief problem is winning fence sitters to his side. French ratification March 8 Agreements will help but more gestures needed from them. Viets seem to attach great importance our recognition. Although Bao Dai’s actual and potential authority somewhat dubious to me, since decision already made to recognize we should move just as quickly as French action permits. Pressure on French in Paris should continue. Have urged our point of view on Pignon and other French officials here. Suggest message of recognition should stress fact it results from their actual achievement independence and our sympathy their national aspirations.

Sent Department 65; Department pass Paris 32. [Jessup.]

  1. In accordance with instructions contained in telegrams 27 and 29 to Saigon (January 21 and 23), neither printed, Jessup delivered the following message:

    “The Secretary of State, Dean Acheson, has instructed me to express to Your Majesty the gratification of the United States Government at the assumption by Your Majesty of the powers transferred by the French Republic at the beginning of this year, and its confident best wishes for the future of the State of Viet Nam with which it looks forward to establishing a closer relationship. My Government believes that both the people of Viet Nam and the people of France are to be congratulated on this development.

    “The Secretary of State also asked me to express his personal hopes that Your Majesty will succeed in his present endeavors to establish stability and prosperity in Viet Nam, which, Your Majesty may be assured, my Government is following with close attention.”

    The text of this statement was released by Bao Dai on January 27 and by the Department of State on January 30.

    The powers transferred by France to Viet-Nam on the first of the year were set forth in 27 agreements signed by French and Vietnamese representatives at Saigon on December 29, 1949. These conventions dealt with aspects of military, economic, judicial, financial, and cultural affairs, as well as with public works, public health, information, and personnel matters.

  2. The memorandum was transmitted in despatch No. 54 from Saigon, February 11; the enclosure does not accompany the despatch in the files of the Department of State (851G.00/2–1150). The memorandum is summarized in telegram 69 from Saigon, January 31, p. 707.
  3. William M. Gibson, Special Assistant to Ambassador Jessup during his tour of the Far East. Gibson, Consul at Hanoi until January 1, 1950, was assigned to the Office of Philippine and Southeast Asian Affairs at the conclusion of the Jessup mission.
  4. Commissioner General MacDonald visited Indochina in November 1949, conferring with French and Vietnamese officials.