Conference files, lot 59 D 95, CF 110

Memorandum by the Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs (Allison) to the Secretary of State

top secret


  • White House Conference on May 19th with the President, Mr. Lovett and General Bradley concerning Indochina and Berlin.

It is believed that for purposes of reconciling the various briefing and background papers pertaining to Indochina which have been prepared for your forthcoming discussions in Paris and Bonn it [Page 95] would be useful if the following résumé was submitted for your guidance. It is our understanding that at the White House Conference referred to above it was agreed that the subjects to be discussed with the French and British regarding Indochina could be reduced to four major topics:

We are in favor of further development of the National Armies of the Associated States and are prepared to furnish further assistance toward that end.
The French and British should be informed that we are in favor of the issuance of a warning to Communist China concerning further aggression in Southeast Asia and wish to work out the context, time and method by which the warning will be delivered in advance in detail with the British and French. This means, among other things, that we will agree to take part in the tripartite military conversations which will undoubtedly be proposed.
As large a measure of agreement as is possible should be reached regarding the reaction to be anticipated from the Peking regime following the issuance of the warning and the courses of action open to the U.S., Great Britain and France if the warning statement is ignored.
We will seek to avoid engagement with the French concerning specific internal changes in Indochina except as they regard financial aid to France for development of the National Armies and form a basis for the discussions to be held in Washington with Minister Letourneau in June.1

No reference was made at the White House to the possibility that you might be faced with a request from the U.K. that we agree to bilateral military conversations with them prior to the trilateral conversations.

It was stated that you would avoid reference to any specific sum in referring to additional financial aid to be provided to the French.

It was also stated that you would seek to avoid any detailed discussion of the military aspects of retaliation, referring such matters to the proposed trilateral military conversation.

Aside from the above observations, the briefing papers included in your book dealing with this subject

SCEM D–5/2a “Southeast Asia” (as amended May 20th)
SCEM D–5/lb, “Possible French Request for Additional Aid” (as amended May 20th)2

[Page 96]

are to serve as negotiating papers and the background paper

“Background paper on Indochina for Discussions with the French and British” (as amended on May 20th following receipt of views and comments of the Joint Chiefs of Staff3)

as a background paper.4

  1. Regarding the visit of Jean Letourneau to Washington, June 16–17, see vol. xiii, Part 1, pp. 174 ff.

    Letourneau was responsible for relations with the Associated States, with the rank of Minister of State, and High Commissioner in Indochina.

  2. Neither printed. The amended papers actually bear the designations “SCEM D–5/2b” and “SCEM D–5/1c”, respectively. (Conference files, lot 59 D 95, CF 110)
  3. For text of SCEM D–6/11, May 21, see vol. xiii, Part 1, p. 150.
  4. Allison’s memorandum was transmitted as telegram Telac 2, May 23, to Paris (where the Secretary arrived May 26). (751G.00/5–2352)