751G.00/1–852: Telegram

The Minister at Saigon (Heath) to the Department of State


1344. Repeated Paris 512, London 23, New Delhi 11. On Pres Huu’s orders govt-owned news service excised for obvious reasons from its bulletin today the following passage in Schuman’s1 exposé before MRP meeting at Toulouse Jan 6:

“In Indochina our policy is a policy of peace. It is not preoccupied by any spirit of imperialism or conquest. Without wishing to abandon Fr interests in this country nor those who have placed confidence in us, nor open the door to communism we do not refuse there either any agreement which might be susceptible to bringing to an end the dolorous conflict which for five years has torn this country apart. If an armistice can be concluded under honorable conditions France will not hesitate to make peace.

If Schuman’s statement contained additional passages on Indochina we wld appreciate pertinent text by cable. We note this may be first occasion on which Fr FonOff has invited political negotiations.

Local centers of neutralism and appeasement which had remained quiescent through recent Pleven and Letourneau parliamentary statements have reacted very quickly to what they regard as Schuman’s lead. For past several days local press has carried series stories re Fr-Brit insistence on FE détente, on linking Indochina to Korean negotiations in over-all FE “settlement” which wld admit Chi Commies planning liquidate Formosa, and bring peace in our time. Press has suggested Churchill wld exert all his influence along these [Page 14] lines and Stalin’s2 reported willingness to meet Big Three in Stockholm to discuss FE solution has had due attention along with Vishinsky’s3 proposal to move Korean talks to UN.

If these Fr initiatives had been discussed with US we assume we wld have been advised. If they have not they represent at least a portentious lack of coordination. In Indochina the PlevenSchumanLetourneau series threatens the Vinh Yen program of psychological mobilization and may work grave injury to De Lattre’s patient attempts to build Vietnamese confidence and to convince the listless and the careful that this is their war.

In these muddied waters the Indians have begun to fish. Our first news of Schuman’s declaration and our first info that it had been censored came from an exalted Kamath, the Indian ConGen here, who had heard of statement on Indian broadcast early this morning and who had received its cabled text few hours later. This surprising Indian forehandedness echoes Indian UN del statement Jan 4 that India was certain Chi Commies would not invade “Fr Indochina” unless Americans first attacked Manchuria or Chi mainland, and, as if in reply to suggestions that Indochina conflict be “internationalized”, volunteered opinion it was “normal practice” for Peking to send administrators to VM and train VM units in Chi terr. No doubt Kamath, whose views on Indochina are as unchanging as Nehru’s4 is busy on the wires to Delhi. We may soon be confronted with Indian or Indian-backed proposal to mediate Indochina or to submit Indochina war to UN with all the trappings of a cease-fire, a plebiscite, or UN-sponsored, observed elections, coalition govt and the other devices which wld only result in the surrender of Indochina to the Chi Commies.

We assume Paris is ascertaining Fr intentions and anticipations re Schuman’s latest gambit and that we shall coordinate our responses to possible Asian attempts to produce Asian Munich.

  1. Robert Schuman, French Foreign Minister.
  2. Iosif Vissarionovich Stalin, President of the Council of Ministers of the Soviet Union; Secretary General of the Central Committee of the Communist Party.
  3. Andrey Yanuaryevich Vyshinsky, Soviet Foreign Minister.
  4. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Prime Minister of India.