396.1 GE/5–1554: Telegram

The United States Delegation to the Department of State


Secto 217. Repeated information Paris 270, London 164, Saigon 76. Re Secto 183, May 12, repeated Paris 244, Saigon 59, London 1521 [Page 812] and Secto 201, May 13, repeated Paris 257, Saigon 66 and London 161.2 Eden, Bidault and I have discussed tactics for Monday’s3 restricted session on Indochina which will be devoted principally to answers to Eden’s questions.

During discussion Eden stated Chou En-lai had yesterday told him Viet Minh proposal indicated their agreement on Eden’s first question. I warned against anything that could become de facto partition and suggested we concentrate first on separating out Laotian and Cambodian questions. Bidault agreed and thought Commie case weak on this point. On Vietnam, he maintained we must do everything possible to avoid simple line across country which would cost us North Vietnam. He thought Commies would continue firm on having political settlement before military one and that this left no alternative but to continue “casting iron dice” (shooting). Political settlement at this time would mean loss of whole country and French had not fought eight years for that.

In response to my question as to who would be responsible authority outside delimited areas, Bidault mentioned possibility international supervision, principles of which he observed Molotov had not rejected. I pointed out Soviet concept of effective supervision very different from ours and advised them of second letter of Swiss and Swedes asking to be relieved of their obligations on Korean commission since Commie members prevented them accomplishing task. I asked whether we were agreed there should be UN supervision. Bidault said it should be UN but he would not exclude some other set-up if satisfactory alternative could be found. Eden said we must avoid Korean set-up of two and two. We agreed to discuss this further in light of results Monday when Commies might show more of their hand in restricted session and that we would make every effort to draw them out on all points in Eden’s questionnaire.

Eden anticipated battle over separating Laos and Cambodia with Commies again proposing admission of ghost governments. Bidault felt their case on this ridiculous and that more they pushed more they would hurt themselves with French opinion. I suggested that Commie intransigence on this would show they did not want settlement. Bidault felt there would be difficulties with Vietnamese over delimiting areas and that we should first seek agreement that military settlement must come before political. I remarked it would be impossible to have political settlement while fighting continued and Eden said Western [Page 813] insistence on this would put Commies in position of being ones who are preventing cessation of hostilities.

We agreed first item should be Dien Bien Phu wounded, second separation Laotian and Cambodian cases from Vietnam and third principle that military settlement must precede political one. Eden will be in chair. We are coordinating this afternoon first with British and French and subsequently with Associated States.

  1. Ante, p. 776.
  2. Ante, p. 793.
  3. May 17.