751.022/11–1150: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Embassy in France 1

secret   niact

2558. Dept has followed developments concerning suggestion that UK Amb Paris inform Fr Govt that “they make formal statement of intention release control Indochina without, however, mentioning time limit” with interest (London’s tel 2234, Oct 18).2

We had agreed fully with reasoning behind Harveys request that he use discretion as to timing approach to Schuman and that it be delayed at least until end Pau Conference. As matter has and will, undoubtedly, continue to be discussed with Fr by Malcolm McDonald Dept now considering suggestion to Brit Govt that their démarche to Fr through McDonald or Harvey be coordinated not joined with similar one on our part. Do not believe joint démarche advisable as traditional Fr suspicion UK FE might lead them resent Brit action. Joining Brit might thus reduce effectiveness our approach.

In forming approach to Fr we do not wish to overlook consideration that morale of troops fighting in Indochina is of prime importance and that, therefore, Fr Govt should not be urged to make any statement concerning further relinquishment Fr controls except under most favorable conditions. Dept would include among factors which might constitute “favorable conditions” (rer: Embtel 2436, Nov 3): (1) demonstration renewed Fr mil potential in form absence further deterioration, (2) visible proof of formation National Armies beyond present paper steps which are excellent beginning, (3) further evidence Bao Dai’s intention and ability assume active leadership his govt, still waited.

Moreover, Dept agrees that considerations morale troops Indochina and public opinion Fr in face expenditures lives and money will make it necessary that statement be not so extreme as to remove whatever stake for Fr in Indochina is sufficient to assure their continued acceptance of “primary responsibility” to extent of proceeding with present program. Dept eager in this matter, as in others relating to Indochina, to strengthen ties Fr Union and maximize protection Fr economic interests Indochina.

Nevertheless Dept is increasingly of conviction that further evolutionary statement is required to consolidate gains which development National Armies, support Franco-Vietnamese mil potential and enhancement Bao Dai Govt’s authority either as result decisions Pau Conference or, possibly, as we hope, through his own revitalization. We are also obviously concerned to see that every means to increase effectiveness of use our own considerable financial and military aid [Page 921] be brought to bear. This would include as a minimum, official declaration by Fr at highest level (Auriol or Schuman) on present and future intentions regarding Indochina, as they have been stated to us by various high officials including Schuman, Moch and Letourneau, on several recent occasions.

Points outlined in Embtel 2436, Nov 3, Para two, are those which we consider should be included. Without attempting suggest actual form we would view something along lines of Letourneau’s statements at Saigon press conference (Saigon 657, Oct 24) and Embassys suggestions in reftel as basic text to build on.

Todays Paris press despatches report McDonald will continue discussions re Indochina with Fr officials during coming week. We would welcome invitation Emb officer participate but as approach shld not be joint realize this might be impossible. Emb shld continue exchange views with McDonald and Fr separately, informing former of our thoughts on concurrent Anglo-U.S. approach to Fr and latter of our agreement with Brit views as expressed to Bruce by McDonald.

London note and, after consultation Paris, inform ForOff our views and, general concurrence theirs as expressed McDonald; sound out possibilities similar approach Fr.

  1. Repeated to London as telegram 2475 and to Saigon as telegram 555.
  2. Not printed.