396.1 GE/5–1554: Telegram

The United States Delegation to the Department of State

official use only

Secto 219. Repeated information Saigon 77, Paris 272. Reference Secto 209, repeated Paris 265, Saigon 72,1 and Secto 215 repeated Paris 268 and Saigon 75.2 Following is text of letter from Smith to Molotov as “Co-Chairman, Geneva Conference on Indochina” transmitted this morning. Letter to Eden is identical except for substitution of “Mr. Molotov” for “you” in first and last sentences paragraph 2, and “Mr. Molotov” for “Mr. Eden” in last paragraph: [Page 811]

“Excellency: It is with surprise that the US delegation has learned that the Viet Minh Military Command apparently is attempting to establish extraordinary conditions for the removal of the wounded from Dien Bien Phu. Most of these brave men have suffered under intolerable conditions for many weeks. I had shared the general hope that following the discussion of this matter at the plenary session on Indochina last Monday there would be no further obstacles to the prompt evacuation of all the wounded of General De Castries’ command at Dien Bien Phu.

“When I spoke with you after our session on May 10th I raised the question of the interpretation of the Viet Minh statement. I said that I assumed it covered all of the wounded at Dien Bien Phu regardless of whether they were members of the French Expeditionary Corps or of the Vietnamese National Army, and also regardless of whether they were French or Vietnamese or belonged to other nationalities. It was my understanding that you had reached the same conclusion and that Mr. Chou En-lai likewise had made the same interpretation.

“I am informed that there are no Vietnamese among the first group designated for release. I thought it had been made clear that there should be no racial or national discrimination.

“Apart from the foregoing, I have also been informed that Viet Minh Command’s representatives are apparently attempting to establish irrelevant conditions for the release of the wounded which would have the effect of giving marked military advantages to their side.

“I earnestly hope that you may find it possible immediately to bring the foregoing to the attention of the Viet Minh representatives here to the end that arrangements made by the Viet Minh Command for the evacuation of the wounded be in full accord with the letter and the spirit of the decisions made by our conference.

“I am transmitting a similar letter to Mr. Eden as Co-Chairman of our conference. (Signed) Walter B. Smith.”3

No public release of letter will be made until French decide whether and when release their letter.

  1. Dated May 14, p. 806.
  2. Dated May 15, Supra.
  3. In a letter to Smith, May 15, Molotov replied as follows: “I have received your letter of May 15 concerning the evacuation of the seriously wounded from Dien Bien Phu. Somewhat earlier I had received a letter on this same question from the Head of the French Delegation which I have today answered. I am sending you a copy of my reply to M. Bidault in which the questions which interest you are dealt with.” (Conference files, lot 60 D 627, CF 303) See telegram Secto 224, May 15, p. 817.