751G.5 MAP/3–1850: Telegram

The Chargé at Saigon (Gullion) to the Secretary of State

top secret

190. Deptel 143.1 1. With respect 303 aid Indo-China, strongly recommend for maximum effect that token vessel be loaded or diverted to be in Saigon or Haiphong earliest time preferably within two months. Ideally cargo should include items of dual military or civil character; for example, mobile sanitation and clinic units, earth moving machinery, communications equipment, etc. which could be put to use rural rehabilitation immediately pending arrival similar items included in economic aid proposals Griffin mission. Deckload might be war planes. View of all parties here, in which Legation concurs, is that arrival of two ships within two months woud be more effective than arrival of 25 over a year.

Arrival of vessels would, of course, be properly publicized.

If question of who distributes aid has not yet been settled by sailing time, cargo could be provisionally consigned American Legation Saigon; however, if cargo arrived before agreement reached, problem would be all the more tricky.

2. I believe there are serious possibilities friction between French and Vietnamese on distribution of aid which have repercussions on military situation. Unceasing evidences of US interest in this area since recognition have had excellent effect increasing confidence and dynamism in Bao Dai ranks and provoking uneasiness among Viet-Minh and fence sitters. It has also made the Vietnamese Government increasingly impatient with any form of French control even that provided in March 8 agreements. In course my visit with Griffin Mission in Tonkin and conversations with Tonkinese leaders, I found that responsible Vietnamese believed they held whiphand on French and could play us off against them.

3. Symptomatic was slogan posted in villages we visited “Down with Colonialism and Communism” also “Communism—No; Colonialism—Never”.

4. Despite juridicial justification for French control arms distribution and very real necessity for some effective Western control some formula will have be found attenuate, limit French supervision implicit in March 8 agreements. Moreover, as offset for insuring reliable control arms by French or US, I confident much more control economic aid must be given Vietnam than indicated in Schuman memo handed Jessup (Paris telegram 67 March 14).2 Must emphasize seriousness this whole problem which local French authorities depreciated originally but which now I believe alarms them. Prolonged controversy [Page 765] on principle quadripartite consultation will jeopardize Interstate Conference already on shaky ground. Believe, moreover, details must be worked out Saigon reference specific programs rather than broad lines of principle in Paris which only infuriates Vietnamese. Embassy Paris should, in my opinion, prepare French for concessions Vietnamese and for including them in programming. In studying possibility ways out and distribution dilemma am, of course, aware US must not prematurely be put position backing particular party or particular formula.

5. Legation would like be consulted with respect any press release which may be issued with respect 303 aid.

6. This Legation strongly favor projected US-British-French staff talks preceded by some US strategic concept with reference area more definite than discussed Bangkok Conference final recommendations which we have not seen. This to our minds is “missing component” and not some “evolutionary” or renunciatory declaration to be wrung from French.

  1. Not printed.
  2. Ante, p. 761.