396.1 GE/4–3054: Telegram

HeathBao Dai Meeting, Cannes, April 29, 7:30 a.m.: The Secretary of State to the Department of State

secret

Secto 47. Repeated information Paris 150, Saigon 15, London 96. Following is Ambassador Heath’s report to the Secretary of his talks with Bao Dai yesterday at Cannes:

I went to Cannes yesterday on the same plane as Falaize, Bidault’s Chef de Cabinet. Falaize had asked me to let him see Bao Dai before I did. However, Bao Dai sent for me shortly after my arrival at 7:30 a.m. and saw Falaize only later.

Bao Dai told me very promptly that he had independently arrived at the conclusion that it was necessary for the Vietnamese to take part in the conference and not interpose objections to Viet Minh being [Page 604]present. He would send his Foreign Minister to head a delegation to Geneva. He was not afraid of encountering the Viet Minh in international conference and his delegation would know how to reply forcefully to Communist lies and impertinences. I had planned to take the noon plane back, but he asked me to stay over to see his Foreign Minister Dinh, arriving later that morning.

Unfortunately, Dinh rather complicated Bao Dai’s outright acceptance of both Vietnam and Viet Minh participation by insisting there must be some precedence and differentiation in invitation to Vietnam. Accordingly he suggested procedure set forth in Secto 35, April 29,1 to which Falaize readily agreed and said he would recommend by telephone to Bidault.

I thought it better not to discuss my trip on the telephone and that the Secretary’s decision could await my return this morning. Bao Dai had refused to give assurances on Vietnam participation to Jacquet when the latter was there two days ago. Bao Dai was evidently awaiting word from American delegation and possibly from Bidault through Falaize, before finally making up his mind.

Bao Dai explained the declaration he made last week,2 to the consternation of French official opinion, as motivated by the refusal of French President to call a meeting of High Council of French Union. Bao Dai said that under previous agreements any Associated State had the undoubted right to call a High Council meeting. Bao Dai, without criticizing Navarre, said he understood latter’s recall was imminent and if it occurred, he planned to recommend General Cogny be appointed to High Command. I observed that Cogny had already spent three and one half trying years in French expeditionary force. Bao Dai had talked with Cogny a few weeks ago and Cogny had said only time he had suffered from over–fatigue was the year he had spent as head of LeLattre’s military household. Bao Dai thought it would be a mistake to send General Guillaume since it would take latter months to learn how to wage war in Indochina. It would be the Navarre experience repeated over again. He praised Cogny’s military ability, tact and loyalty.

In Paris I recall Admiral Radford suggesting to me that Cogny would be a good successor to Navarre.

Dulles
  1. Post, p. 608.
  2. Reference is to the Apr. 25 statement by the Bao Dai cabinet. See footnote 1, p. 584.