396.1 GE/5–1454: Telegram

The United States Delegation to the Department of State


Secto 209. Repeated information priority Paris 265, Saigon 72. We communicated substance of Saigon’s 109 sent Department 2391 Paris 8411 to French this morning and offered to assist them in any way we could. They did not receive similar information directly until just before meeting this afternoon when they received it in instructions to Bidault to take it up at today’s session.

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Bidault consulted Eden and me during recess in considerable distress. His information convinced him that Viet Minh would be able to move bulk of their forces from Dien Bien Phu to delta within two weeks necessary to fly out wounded unless their movement along RC–41 was effectively blocked. Viet Minh proposal would only be admissible if it were possible to have international control of RC–41 to insure it was not used for troop movements. This seemed wholly impractical. In circumstances Bidault felt that to raise it in public meeting today would do no good for wounded who were probably doomed in any event.

At later talk after meeting he and I decided best tactic would be for him to write head of Viet Minh delegation as one belligerent to another and to both chairmen protesting this diabolic blackmail. I agreed to raise supporting letters to both chairmen. Letters are being phrased to provide out for Communists if there is any possibility of their backing out. We will try to avoid publicity pending further developments.

  1. In telegram 2391 from Saigon, May 14, not printed, McClintock reported that the Viet Minh had placed conditions on the evacuation of wounded from Dien Bien Phu. Dejean indicated to the Chargé that “this was but a diabolical ruse to delay evacuation of French Union wounded as long as possible in order to prevent French air attack of RC–41 while Giap moves his divisions toward delta. Wounded of Dien Bien Phu are in fact being used as hostages.” (751G.00/5–1454)