890.00/3–2550: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Legation at Saigon


176. Reurtels 204, 205 and 207,1 for urinfo Dept informed Fr High Commissioner IC believes Vietnam Govt may refuse attend interstate conference or agree become member of a quadripartite group which wld either submit individual state requirements for both econ and mil aid, or a single document embodying requests from three states plus separate Fr needs. In either case it was Fr proposal that Fr authority countersign.

Pignon apparently believes this new attitude of Viets is due their misapprehension that perhaps as result Griffin mission and other expressions US friendship it will be unnecessary for Viets deal with other states or Fr in drawing up and submitting list mutually agreed requirements.

Dept desires such misapprehension be dispelled in as rapid and dipl a manner as possible.

US, having recognized status of States under Mar 8 and similar agreements has no intention allowing its position to be interpreted in such manner as to free Fr or IC states from performance under agreements.

While we will continue push Fr to interpret liberally terms their agreements with the states we also expect the three states, and particularly Bao Dai, to discharge their undertakings under the agreements. A specific case in point is their tendency overlook the responsibility provided by the Mar 8 agreements to Fr in matters affecting defense of the three states.

Dept continues feel problem of mechanics of aid is one which requires first the mutually agreed desire of three states and France and secondly acceptable US policy, resources and public opinion. If either interstate or quadripartite talks are made impossible by Viet intransigence [Page 772] it is obvious no mutual program can be formed for submission to US. Equally obvious wld be strong US public reaction against attempting deal with new states and Fr when they are unable, in view urgency situation as pointed out by both sides, to agree among themselves.

The tendency which the Viets are showing to play us off against the Fr where mil and econ aid are concerned is one which might well jeopardize our plans in this respect. It shld be made plain to them the early creation of a quadripartite organization to which econ and mil aid can be directed is of the greatest importance to this Government in determining extent such aid.

Example urgency solution is fact that it may be possible find 37 mm ammunition available for shipment within short time. However funds cannot be allocated until title of recipient determined.

Dept continues desire and assumes Fr accept desirability making three States publicized recipients mil as well econ aid, while actually utilizing channels most appropriate. Dept does not desire disturb any way Fr mil authority upon whom not only problem distribution falls but major share end use mil aid. Required therefore is mutually acceptable procedure applicable all types mil aid regardless end user. This decision need not any way prejudice quadripartite distribution committee allocations after arrival aid.

As an interim measure to apply to emergency items such as C–54’s and 37 mm ammunition Dept is considering practicability vesting title and resting consignment in Commander-in-Chief Combined French Indochinese Forces. Do you believe similar formula desirable for all subsequent military aid? Cld title be vested in quadripartite personality and consignment made in the case of military assistance to Cmdr-in-Chief?

  1. Telegrams 204 and 205, March 25, and 207, March 26, from Saigon, are not printed.