751G.00/3–1054: Telegram

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

top secret

3294. Repeated information Moscow 261, Saigon 374. Limit distribution. We are concerned with extent to which hopes for finding Indochina settlement at Geneva are rising in France and with growing belief that United States “concessions” to China will be necessary for such settlement. Laniel’s statement in Parliament March 5 (Embassy telegram 3240 March 61) reflects this thinking, as did yesterday’s debate (Embassy telegram 3293 March 102). We are constantly stressing in private conversations inadvisability of counting either upon willingness of Russians or Chinese seriously to negotiate or upon United States concessions to China, but so far without appreciable effect.

Of somewhat different character was Pleven’s expression to Symington (Embassy telegram 3205 March 52) of hope that United States would say at Geneva that Communist planes over Indochina would be met by United States planes. In this connection, Bohlen, when here after Berlin, told us he thought Russian worry over possibility of Indochina war spreading might conceivably predispose them to favor its termination. Warning note contained in Secretary’s September 2 St. Louis speech3 and declaration at time of Korean Armistice4 was helpful and well received here but, between now and Geneva, we should [Page 446] seek to avoid connotations of A-bomb-rattling or premature United States conclusion Geneva can produce no Indochina settlement.

Within narrow limits which we assume will circumscribe United States freedom of action at Geneva, we fear it will be difficult to place blame for failure to reach Indochina settlement squarely upon Chinese or Russians insofar as French and presumably other European opinion is concerned. If British, as appears likely, are reluctant to go along with a rigid United States position, we may find ourselves in uncomfortable isolation. We know that intensive consideration of Indochina problem is taking place in Washington and we believe effect at Geneva upon major United States interests will depend to considerable measure upon such answers as may be found within next few weeks to questions like following:

How far are we prepared to go, in terms of United States national interest, to prevent further Communist expansion in Southeast Asia through (a) fighting or (b) negotiation involving United States concessions?

Will United States delegation have sufficient freedom for maneuver to enable it to explore possible differences of interest between Peiping and Moscow and to capitalize upon them if found?

In view of very substantial dividends which thorough tripartite preparation paid at Berlin and even more difficult situation which we will apparently face at Geneva, we strongly recommend maximum advance tripartite consultation on Indochina as suggested by Maurice Schumann (Embassy telegram 3176 March 45).

  1. Ante, p. 435.
  2. For text, see volume xiii .
  3. For text, see volume xiii .
  4. The text of Dulles’ address before the American Legion is printed in Department of State Bulletin, Sept. 14, 1953, p. 339.
  5. Representatives of the 16 nations which had participated in the U.N. Command met in Washington on July 27, 1953, and issued a declaration stating their support for the Armistice Agreement (signed that same day at Panmunjom), and indicating their belief that any breech of the Armistice would be so grave that it would probably be impossible to restrict the resultant hostilities to the confines of Korea. The Sixteen-Nation Declaration on Korea is printed in American Foreign Policy, 1950–1955: Basic Documents (2 volumes; Washington, Government Printing Office, 1957), vol. ii, p. 2662. For related documentation, see volume xv .
  6. Ante, p. 430.