396.1 GE/5–954: Telegram

The United States Delegation to the Department of State


Secto 157. Repeated information Paris 229, London 143. At his meeting this morning, Chauvel inquired as to outcome of NSC meeting yesterday.1 Achilles stated we could not associate ourselves with any arrangement for cease-fire in advance of adequate and controlled armistice, but that we could support initiation of negotiations for such an armistice agreement. He added that French proposal2 as tabled had been received in Washington only after NSC meeting, and that it was, therefore, not dealt with specifically, but that we assumed we would be in position to support general lines of French proposal as minimum. We might have to disassociate ourselves, should that proposal be weakened in negotiations.

[Page 743]

In discussion of French proposal it became clear that French have not thought through much of it. In discussion of paragraph I (1), questioning brought out their tentative thinking that framework for regrouping would be established by conference, that commanders in field would then be asked to work out details, which would in turn be submitted for approval by conference. There was no answer to Allen’s remark that Eden did not wish to spend next two years in Geneva.

With respect to I (4), French had no definite idea as to composition of control commission other than that they need not necessarily be same nationalities as guarantors in paragraph III. Chauvel indicated less opposition than previously to United Nations responsibility for control and selection of control commissions.

There was considerable discussion of paragraph III on guarantees. In answer to British question as to nature of obligations contemplated, Chauvel stated only specific obligation was consultation, although they wish this provision to involve each of the nine in some political responsibility. Allen remarked that consultation with Communists might take time but Chauvel said that any government could act immediately, particularly those with forces in field. We stressed desirability of providing framework for action by six,3 with possible addition of other governments prepared to participate in united action. Allen felt proposal as phrased might be helpful in associating Colombo powers4 with some form of united action, whereas they would be reluctant to join in framework limited explicitly to non-Communist powers. We stressed importance of avoiding any possibility of Communists or neutralists, delaying or paralyzing collective action. French felt that reference to “individual or collective measures” avoided this possibility, since any single nation or group of nations could act. They stated their intent was to facilitate united action. British said proposal would help them, as would any agreement reached here, to secure both UN and Commonwealth support for united action. Achilles reiterated US would not participate in negotiating, let alone guaranteeing, any unsatisfactory settlement. Allen stated that the less satisfactory any settlement reached here might be the greater and more urgent would be the need for united action. Objective was to check the rot in as much of Indochina as possible and prevent its spreading elsewhere in Southeast Asia. Question of “guarantees” will obviously require careful consideration as to how we might utilize it to facilitate development of united action and prevent its complicating picture.

  1. For report of decision taken by the National Security Council at its 196th meeting, May 8, see telegram Tedul 43, May 8, p. 731.
  2. Contained in telegram Secto 143, May 8, p. 730.
  3. France, the United Kingdom, the United States, Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam.
  4. Burma, Ceylon, India, Indonesia, and Pakistan.