330/4–2953: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Embassy in France 1


5444. Following up my conversations with Mayer and Bidault please ask Bidault urgently whether French have completed restudy their attitude re introduction Laos question in SC of UN.

In approaching Bidault, convey following as trend US thinking:

We see definite advantage introducing Laos problem in UN.
It would contribute international status Indochina problem. Thus it would place us in better position press Communists for settlement in Indochina whenever this might be deemed desirable.
Emphasizing international character Indochina conflict will achieve greater public understanding for increased assistance to French by US and possibly others (e.g., French request for Thailand facilities, Bangkok’s 2123 repeated Paris 8).2
It would heighten appreciation for necessity France’s effort in Indochina and thus help remove its “colonial war” stigma.
Vietminh aggression against Laos so clear that opinion US and elsewhere is finding it increasingly difficult understand failure raise this question in UN.
Serious risk inaction in UN could be mistaken by Communists as well as by free world as indication weakness and lack concern for SEA
SC appears best UN organ since consideration by it will emphasize danger to international peace and is least subject to pressure for undue extension of debate by extreme anti-colonial group.
Case could be brought before SC as “complaint of aggression against Laos” focusing on clear facts of open invasion of Laotian territory as affording best prospect for maximum support in SC and smallest opportunity delay and broadening of debate to cover colonial aspects. Since we anticipate Soviet veto on any SC resolution, problem is obtain broadest, if possible unanimous, support among SC members other than USSR.
From viewpoint most favorable reaction among UN members we see definite advantage in Laos appearing as sole complainant party with full support by French.

We envisage resolution which would condemn presence in Laos and aggressive activities of foreign forces conducting invasion of Laos, call for withdrawal these forces, call on all states and authorities refrain from giving assistance these forces and to help Laos upon request where appropriate and possible, and call on all states to respect territorial integrity and political independence of Laos.

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It would of course be difficult ignore completely question of external assistance to Vietminh which is not limited to Laos, affects all three Associated States and is crux Indochina problem. This question will undoubtedly arise in course of discussion and might lead to suggestion for some type UN or other inquiry. Depending upon effectiveness and persuasiveness presentation Laotian case in SC there may also be pressure for inquiry into facts of Laotian invasion itself. We would have to consider jointly how this problem should be met in SC. However, believe this aspect of problem should not deter us from proceeding with complaint of aggression against Laos.

Although accurate prediction vote in SC not possible without consultation with other members, we believe 4 permanent members (UK, US, France, China) would vote for above resolution as would at least 3 non-permanent members (Greece, Colombia, Denmark). At least one of three remaining members (Chile, Lebanon, Pakistan) might also vote for resolution. Since this would be case under Chapter VII of Charter right of France to vote could not be challenged. Soviets virtually certain veto resolution so that SC will not be able take any effective action. However, large vote in SC despite veto would in our view achieve principal advantages outlined above.

We would have to consider what if any further steps UN should take after veto to keep pace with developing situation.

I talked to Bonnet yesterday recommending action in SC by Laos, but did not go into details. Bonnet stated French are afraid matter might get into Assembly and lead to political attacks on France because of its alleged imperialistic policies. Such attacks, he said, might well create a public opinion in France which would force complete withdrawal from Indochina.

We are, of course, aware likelihood matter may arise in GA. However, this possibility exists regardless whether matter raised in SC, and prior initiative in SC would, in our view, set narrower and more manageable framework for any GA consideration.

Please inform Bidault I consider matter one of urgency.

  1. Drafted by David H. Popper and Eric Stein of the Office of United Nations Political and Security Affairs. Repeated for information to Saigon as telegram 2086, to London as 7111, and to New York for USUN as 411.
  2. Regarding telegram 2123 from Bangkok, Apr. 28, see footnote 1, p. 506.