751G.00/12–754: Telegram

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

top secret

2417. Rptd info Saigon 349. Limit distribution in Department. Saigon for Collins. Re Saigon tel 2108 rptd info Paris 665.1 I am gratified to read Collins report that Saigon is enjoying satisfactory working relations with French and “we are now moving in same direction” [Page 2350] there. It is in the thought that nothing should be done to disturb these relations or give French reason to claim that we are not adhering to Washington agreement that I think it would be mistake to approach Bao Dai unilaterally along lines paragraph 8 reftel until French have been consulted and permitted to express their views. As they have agreed to designate full authority in these matters to Ely it appears to me that such consultation should more appropriately take place between Collins and Ely in Saigon rather than in Paris.

Moreover, I question whether we should approach Bao Dai in an effort to persuade him to relinquish his control over the Vietnamese armed forces so soon after we have successfully prevailed upon him to exercise that same control in summoning General Hinh to Paris and neutralizing him. We have found as general rule that it is more effective approach Bao Dai with specific request, as we did in Hinh case, rather than in generalities.

Similarly, I question whether it would be wise to attempt to remove Bao Dai’s authority and transfer his powers to Diem or anyone else until such time as there is specific plan for new form government, constitutional monarchy or otherwise. Mendes has recently confirmed policy of Foreign Office and Ministry Associated States that “thread of legality” which Bao Dai still represents is useful asset which we can ill afford to dissipate until another can be substituted. Recent action in Hinh case proved how useful an instrument Bao Dai’s authority can be to serve our purposes when required. I therefore suggest that Collins may wish to discuss Bao Dai démarche with Ely before Department formulates its instructions in matter.

  1. Dated Dec. 6, p. 2341.