751G.02/1–2750: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Embassy in the United Kingdom


438. Re Lond’s 479, rptd Paris 137, Jan 27.1 Fol comments on recognition Viet Nam shld be passed to Brit:

As Dept understands it the purpose of according recognition to Bao Dai is to give him stature in the eyes of non-communist nationalists elements in Viet Nam and thus increase his following. This being the case recognition, if accorded by U.K. or ourselves, wld appear most effective if given without any strings attached, i.e. the de facto step contemplated by Brit as a bargaining point with the Fr in order obtain further concessions. Dept has come to view that the Fr have for the moment gone as far as they can in according independence. This does not mean of course that either we, the Brit or the Fr shld not continue to view the Mar 8 Agreements as an evolutionary step in the independence of Viet Nam.

We are of course aware of fact that the UK does not have unanimous support of the commonwealth re recognition and that no formula re Viet Nam cld be found at Colombo acceptable to all participants. We nevertheless believe that a straightforward recognition without the qualification of de facto, or for that matter de jure, wld best serve our [Page 704]and UK interests and this viewpoint shld be pressed upon the commonwealth govts. In this connection, it shld be borne in mind that simultaneous recognition will have to be accorded to Laos and Cambodia, whose govts fulfill the requirements for the “de jure” status. The Mao Tse Tung govt on the other hand appears indeed to be a “de facto” form of govt altho it was simply “recognized” without qualifications.

Along the lines above Dept is of opinion that merely to give the UK ConGen in Saigon the “courtesy rank of minister” is a skittish and timorous approach to problem of according diplomatic recognition to Viet Nam which wld tend in large measure to negate the benefits of such recognition. Dept considering making ConGen Saigon a diplomatic agent accredited to all 3 govts with personal rank of minister if this appears indicated.

Sent London as 438; rptd Paris as 409, rptd Saigon as 46 and rptd Bangkok as 65.

  1. Telegram 479 from London, not printed, transmitted information obtained from the Foreign Office on discussion of the Indochina recognition question at the Colombo Conference (751G.02/1–2750).