751G.00/12–153: Telegram

The Chargé in France (Achilles) to the Department of State

confidential priority

2115. Repeated information Saigon 210. Reference Embassy’s telegrams 21101 and 2113.2 Foreign Office has no doubt that Ho Chi-Minh’s brilliantly timed démarche will increase difficulties dealing with Indochina problem. Like Jacquet, Roux (Chief Far Eastern Department), believed that nothing could be counted on from Bao Dai while negotiation with Ho remained active possibility. Bao Dai could be counted on to exercise oriental propensity for buttering bread both sides and would now sit on fence until it was clear again on which side he should descend. First signs this attitude already apparent in failure get on with Franco-Vietnam negotiations and replace Tam government.

Roux declined state whether Foreign Office would choose regard intermediary of Swedish newspaper as official channel, but inclined think not. Perhaps Ho did not wish to be taken too seriously, else he might have used Swedish or other neutral Embassy in Peking, such as Indian as channel. Roux quoted Bidault as thinking démarche was nothing but propaganda.

Roux expounded theory that in addition to obvious intentions behind move, there might be-effort to improve Peking position at Korean political conference, or any five power conference which might follow [Page 891] coming four power. Peking (and presumably USSR) would find it convenient to claim that move toward negotiations between belligerents in Indochina had already been made and subject Indochina war therefore excluded from consideration.

Roux believes possibility mutually satisfactory Franco-Vietnamese negotiations have suffered serious setback. How could present or prospective Vietnamese Government be expected discuss treaty relationship with France as long as they believed possibility existed for French to grant terms to Viet Minh?

Throughout Roux emphasized that Ho “feeler” was addressed only to France and that of course this was unacceptable and that even if it did lead to anything, which was unlikely, it would only be with full knowledge and participation States governments.

Foreign Office giving matter further study would have more to add shortly.3

  1. Dated Nov. 30, p. 887.
  2. Supra.
  3. On the evening of Dec. 2, the French Government issued a communiqué stating that France had already made clear its views on the problem of the cessation of hostilities. It was up to the Viet Minh to make their views known through official channels. France and the Associated States would consider them. For text of the communiqué, see Documents on International Affairs, 1953, pp. 478–479.

    The Embassy in Paris transmitted an analysis of the Ho Chi-Minh interview and its impact on French policy in despatch 1508, Dec. 8. The Embassy indicated that while basic French policy had not changed, the possibility that some sort of negotiations would ultimately develop had increased. (651.51 G/12–853)

    The Ho Chi-Minh interview was considered at the 173d Meeting of the National Security Council, Dec. 3, in the course of the briefing of the Council on world developments by the Director of Central Intelligence. The memorandum of discussion of that meeting read in part as follows:

    “Mr. [Allen] Dulles stated that Ho Chi-Minh’s alleged offer to negotiate with France had had little or no effect initially in Indochina, but after the friendly reception accorded this overture in Paris, the repercussions in Indochina became serious. Bao Dai had spurned the proposal, but it had nevertheless had a bad effect on the morale of the Vietnamese troops. Incidentally, Mr. Dulles pointed out, no Westerner really knows whether or not Ho Chi-Minh is actually alive. No Westerner has seen him or heard his voice over the radio for many months. He must be presumed to be alive, but there is no proof.” (Eisenhower Library, Eisenhower papers, Whitman file)