396.1 GE/4–1054: Telegram

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


1956. Repeated information Paris 639, Hanoi 354, London 32. Re Paris telegram 302 [3702] to Department repeated Saigon 415, London 890.1 It probable most Vietnamese Government officials and many [Page 513] of more vocal leaders of anti-Communist political and religious groups would fear Viet Minh participation at Geneva as leading to loss face by Vietnamese Government and concurrent increase stature and pretentions Viet Minh Government. However, it equally probable great mass of people would experience secret satisfaction at seeing Viet Minh—especially Ho Chi Minh in person—at council table bearding French and other Western powers. Much depends in this connection on outcome at Dien Bien Phu.

There is fear on part anti-Communist Vietnam that Viet Minh would not fail capitalize on Geneva as springboard to increase tremendously their stature in eyes of Vietnamese and other Asian people. It is argued that there would be much more interest shown in Viet Minh delegates by press and photographers than in rather colorless Vietnamese delegation and that Viet Minh would steal show. Viet Minh would follow line of Red Chinese in attempting build up international position and profit to greatest extent possible opportunity develop their propaganda line through press conferences and public statements. They would present Bao Dai and Buu Loc Government in most unfavorable light possible while building up case for “legitimacy” Ho Government. Persons supporting these views believe it would be better not have Associated States represented if that would mean inclusion Viet Minh.

Buu Loc told me personally he would not head government which had to sit at conference table across from Viet Minh. His present feeling is that Vietnam should be represented but only by an observer. Cambodia would have no objection sit across from Viet Minh and Laos, while it would not object, would probably do whatever France wanted.

  1. The Embassy at Paris reported in telegram 3702 to the Department, Apr. 3, that the Vietnamese Delegation in Paris had told the French Government that a definitive position concerning Associated States representation at Geneva would have to await Buu Loc’s return to Paris or his instructions from Saigon. The delegation had intimated that the presence of Viet Minh representatives in any status equal to that of the Associated States, however, would have an adverse public effect in Indochina. (396.1 GE/4–354)