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

Participants: Ambassador Bonnet
Assistant Secretary Perkins
Mr. O’Shaughnessy—WE

Ambassador Bonnet called today at my request. I told him that in view of the rapidity with which events were moving in connection with the ratification of the March 8 Agreements between President Auriol and Bao Dai I wanted to bring to his attention once again the concern of the Department over the prompt transferal of Indochinese affairs from the Ministry of Overseas France to the French Foreign Office. M. Bonnet replied that his government was aware of our views in this respect and that those views had been made clear to M. Schuman2 by the Secretary and by officers in the Department to members of his Embassy at various times in recent months. He said that he did not have any recent information in the premises but thought the matter was being discussed in the French cabinet and that consideration was also being given to the handling of Indochinese affairs by a new agency somewhat similar to the British Dominions Office.

I told M. Bonnet that I thought it would be more helpful to Bao Dai in building up the appearance of Viet Nam’s independent status if transfer were to the Foreign Office rather than to a specially created ministry. In any case I stressed that the transfer of Indochina’s relations from the Ministry of Overseas France was a matter of urgency.

M. Bonnet requested an indication of our latest views on recognition of Bao Dai in view of the fact that the Council of the Republic had ratified the agreements and Mr. Auriol would probably sign the instrument of ratification today or tomorrow. I told him that we were considering recognition at a very early date but added that we thought it was in the best interests of the United States and of Bao Dai for us not to take the lead in according recognition. I indicated that our recognition would probably follow shortly after, or perhaps simultaneously with, the British and I added that it was our hope that one of the South Asian nations might precede us also.

M. Bonnet said that he would not fail once again to bring our views on the transfer from the Ministry of Overseas France to the attention of his government.

G[eorge] W. P[erkins]
  1. Drafted by Elim O’Shaughnessy, Officer in Charge of French-Iberian Affairs.
  2. Robert Schuman, French Foreign Minister.