751G.00/3–552: Telegram

The Ambassador in France (Bruce) to the Department of State


5341. Rptd info Saigon 305, London unn. Tezenas du Montcel, Dir Gen Min Assoc States, who accompanied Letourneau on recent trip IC, gives us fol appraisal IC situation which he says represents also views Letourneau:

They returned Paris with very optimistic view situation. They were impressed by progress made in formation IC natl armies, achievements Vietnamese and other Assoc States Govts and prospects in both mil and pol fields for Assoc States. Pacification in Cochin China described as being in final stage. They are strongly opposed to any thought of Fr withdrawal and are confident that IC can be held except in event Chi aggression.

He speaks of changed attitude on part Vietnamese, who are increasingly taking over governmental functions transferred to them and who particularly on lower echelons, both pol and mil, are showing praiseworthy cooperation with Fr auths. He says Vietnamese have been given no food for thought by attitudes shown in Fr Natl Assembly and that Vietnamese are aware of increasing sentiment in France for finding some means by which France can find solution to heavy IC burden. Letourneau emphasized this point to Vietnamese and pointed out that Fr Natl Assembly wld not indefinitely continue provide support for Fr effort IC and Vietnamese themselves must cease their “small wars” against Fr and concentrate on their real war against Viet Minh.

Letourneau and Tezenas du Montcel consider that real IC problem is not at Saigon but at Paris. Optimistic estimate of situation gained by recent part mission headed by Socialist expected to be of assistance in supporting continued effort IC.


Letourneau and Tezenas du Montcel completely astonished by reaction to former’s statement in press conf at Saigon re possible negots with Ho Chi-Minh. Letourneau had answered inquiry from Amer correspondent re what Fr wld do if Ho Chi-Minh offered to negotiate. He had replied in only way possible that Fr cld obviously not reject out of hand any chance for peace but that Bao Dai Govt as only legal and recognized govt Vietnam wld have to establish conditions and wld have to decide whether it was willing negotiate. This was not intended as any overture to Viet Minh.

FonOff official says that Tezenas du Montcel has talked at length with Parodi1 and Roux, Act Dir Asian Affairs, and confirms this gen appraisal given Emb Off by Tezenas du Montcel. This official adds that Letourneau and Tezenas du Montcel speak of seeing end in sight in IC, that end over at two or three-year period based upon part to be played by IC natl armies, upon pol prospects Assoc States Govts and essential contribution made by US mil aid. This is optimistic appraisal IC situation assumes continuation Fr efforts IC and does not represent an appraisal of what Fr policy decisions may be taken by Counc Mins and Natl Assembly in light pol and fin situation here. This is indicated by Tezenas du Montcel statement that real IC problem is not at Saigon but at Paris.

  1. Alexandre Parodi, Secretary General of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs.