751G.551/2–1152: Telegram

The Chargé at Hanoi (Hubbard) to the Department of State


547. Rptd info Paris 197, Saigon 348.

Had a few words with Salan during official dinner given Letourneau by Huu last night. Salan said he himself was “firm” as [Page 35] military CINC, but question of HICOM still undecided; nor does he believe Letourneau knows answer yet.
After dinner, in replying to Huu address, Letourneau made long ex tempore speech, burden of which was appeal for faith in France, echoing De Lattre worship last April at Vinh-Yen, that he had come not to limit Vietnamese sovereignty, but to defend it. Letourneau said he realized position was very hard for all Vietnamese at present, especially in the delta; but with France behind them and US aid, Communism could and would be defeated.
Before dinner, I had brief words with Bishop of Bui-Chu who was very down in the mouth and said if help did not come soon his province would fall to Commies. Asked if US would send troops; I said I was afraid not Bishop said Bui-Chu itself has not yet been occupied, but VM are everywhere else in area. Shortly after I heard Bishop telling Letourneau much the same thing.

After dinner, I had several words more with Bishop, who said situation was desperate; Commies were winning people over. Bishop said he had come to Hanoi to tell officialdom the truth; referred to Letourneau speech as “nothing but words”. Asked if there would be a chance to see Minister Heath during latter’s trip to Hanoi today and tomorrow for Sontay ceremony. I said I feared schedule was extremely tight and doubted if it could be done; but I begged he feel free to call on Consulate if able before he left town.