251G.51G22/S–754: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Embassy at Saigon1


491. Joint State–Defense–CIAFOAUSIA message. Above agencies form special OCB group designed assist all addressees in rapid decisions required in adjustments existing programs and redeployment resources in respect Indochina,2 Priority given refugee movement and resettlement. Among other matters group will be concerned with evacuation mil equipment to areas to be designated by US, provision mil and other assistance to retained Vietnam and other AS designed to strengthen position vis-à-vis VM and Commie China. Essential that country team Saigon submit as soon as practicable and in as precise detail as possible recommended program for most effective use of US economic financial and mil aid with indication of controls necessary to most expeditious and efficient implementation.

Embassy Saigon instructed prepare note to Vietnamese Govt in answer their request Saigon’s 458 repeated Paris 165 Tokyo 9 Manila 58 Hanoi unnumbered3 offering US assistance in removal from areas north of 17th parallel of Vietnamese and their resettlement in retained portion. Outline suggested text follows:

Usual opening “US Govt desires extend Govt Vietnam all reasonable assistance to evacuate from areas defined in cease-fire agreement its nationals who understandably unwilling face grim certainties life under commies. Well aware that mere removal does not solve problem for such people, or for Govt Vietnam, US Govt also prepared provide as far as possible material help needed to enable refugees from VM domination to resume existence under their chosen Govt with maximum opportunity add strength that Govt through own efforts.

[Page 1925]

“Embassy will continue close cooperation Vietnamese Govt to ensure that US assistance is made effective in meeting the needs of the Govt and its people. US will expect maximum cooperation of Govt Vietnam in working to this mutual end.”4 Usual closing.

In accompanying oral comment Amb will of course note that US now dealing direct with local Govt, though Fr Govt in view their continuing interest and involvement have been given advance info this note. Our aid primarily for benefit Vietnamese, though recognize that we cannot categorically exclude Fr in view impossibility knowing all future circumstances. Emb Saigon requested telegraph final text with time delivery to permit simultaneous release here. State will inform AS missions. Embassy Paris: Inform Foreign Office substance of note.

Defense communicating with CINCPAC, info to Chief, MAAG, Saigon, and CINCFE re lift requirements.

Emb Saigon and Chief MAAG/Indochina will recognize political undesirability receipt Fr request for assistance on behalf Vietnamese refugees as distinguished from possible utilization US facilities by Fr if necessary. Both instructed therefore forestall such request if it appears imminent.

  1. Drafted by Robert McClintock of FE (formerly Counselor of Embassy at Saigon). On Aug. 11, McClintock was designated chairman of a special interdepartmental working group on Indochina. On Aug. 18 he was named Ambassador to Cambodia. This telegram was repeated to Manila as 479, to Tokyo for CINCFE, to Paris as 486, to Hanoi (via Saigon) as 162, to Phnom Penh as 17, and to Vientiane as 11. It was also transmitted to the Navy Department for CINCPAC.
  2. In a memorandum of Aug. 3 to Under Secretary of State Smith, Chairman of the Operations Coordinating Board, Robert Cutler, Special Assistant to the President, suggested that the OCB establish a special working group on Indochina. (OCB files, lot 62 D 430, “SEA #2”) At its meeting of Aug. 4, the OCB agreed upon the establishment of such a group under the chairmanship of the Department of State. It was intended that the group deal with day-to-day developments in Indochina, particularly in regard to necessary readjustments in U.S. programs in light of the termination of hostilities. The OCB instructed the working group to prepare immediately an offer of U.S. assistance to be presented in Saigon to the Vietnamese Government regarding the evacuation and resettlement of refugees from the north. (OCB files, lot 62 D 430, “Minutes”)
  3. Dated Aug. 5, p. 1921.
  4. In Press Release No. 431 of Aug. 8, the Department of State announced that the United States had delivered this message to the Government of Vietnam. The published version was identical in substance to the draft appearing here. For text of Press Release No. 431, see Department of State Bulletin, Aug. 16, 1954, p. 241.