751G.00/5–1254: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the United States Delegation 1

top secret

Tedul 60. Paris for Ambassador, Geneva for Under Secretary, Saigon eyes only and info only McClintock, from Secretary. Ambassador Bonnet called on me today at his request.2 He referred to our talk [Page 786] May 8 when I told him US was prepared to sit down to talk with French about “internationalizing” war in Indochina (Tedul 463). He said French Govt believes time has now come to have such discussions and wants to know US attitude and position in event Geneva does not lead to cessation hostilities and military situation Indochina makes it imperative for French to ask for outside assistance. French Govt cannot wait until outcome of Geneva to know US attitude since by then military situation may have so deteriorated that Indochina would be lost. French Govt knows US intervention must be within framework of collective action but doubts that Australia can move before May 29 elections and recognizes that UK “because of preoccupations re both Hongkong and Nehru” may not be willing to join. It is therefore very important to know precisely what US is willing to do and when it might be able to act.

I told Bonnet we were prepared to begin discussions with French but doubted desirability of doing so until after vote of confidence by French Assembly tomorrow. I added that problems involved in US participation had been under continuous examination by us including highest level this govt and I felt we could usefully begin talks at very early date after vote of confidence. Bonnet agreed and said he obviously was not in position to discuss substance today.

Question then arose as to where discussions should be held. I said we would wish to keep in close touch with Laniel and tentatively thought Paris might be best place. Bonnet said he would put this question to Paris indicating there were probably advantages in having them in Paris and also advantages in having them in Washington. He would seek French views on this.

  1. Drafted by MacArthur. Repeated to Paris as telegram 4048 and to Saigon as telegram 2269.
  2. For text of memorandum of conversation, May 12, see volume xiii .
  3. Dated May 9, p. 742.