790.5/5–1754: Telegram

The United States Delegation to the Department of State

top secret

Dulte 77. Repeated information Paris priority 283. Eyes only Ambassador. Reference: Tedul 67.1 In reply to question whether subject Southeast Asia collective security measures should continue to be dealt with here between Eden and General Smith or in future be handled between Washington and London, Caccia said that from British point of view as long as Eden was here it would be better to carry on business [Page 836] in Geneva.2 Other questions apart, Caccia felt that only outstanding problem regarding proposed military staff talks was development of terms of reference. He felt that Eden was now prepared to go along with Washington as site.

However with respect to subject in general, a new obstacle has been created by published reports of US–French talks on US participation in Indochina war. Before this report was published on Saturday Eden had been ready to agree to going ahead immediately with military staff talks but now felt he had to await outcome of US–French talks. Problem for him was that if French were to ask for US intervention on terms proposed it would not be possible for him to pretend that five-power military staff talks were “without commitment”, for the US and France would in fact be planning on basis of very specific commitments. Caccia said that as far as British were concerned it remained essential that proposed five-power military talks be without commitment and that Eden be able so to report to Parliament.3

When it was pointed out to him that some time might elapse before French Government reached decision whether to request US intervention, Caccia seemed to reflect that this aspect had not been considered by Eden and he said that the latter would no doubt wish to give further thought to this aspect.

Caccia said Eden was disturbed by press reports indicating Department had put specific question re adherence to Southeast Asia pact to certain Colombo states including India and Burma and had got flat turndown. Eden was also concerned whether this reflected decision on our part not to follow agreed division of labor whereby British would deal with Colombo states and US with Thailand, Philippines, etc., on this subject. We are assuring British that there is no such intention on our part and that talks between Murphy and Ambassadors of Colombo states were of much more general character than that attributed to them by press.

  1. Dated May 14, p. 799.
  2. The Department of State in telegram Tedul 86, May 18, instructed Under Secretary Smith that “so long as Eden remains Geneva substantive negotiation with British regarding Southeast Asia collective security measures should be dealt with by you. Will of course be impossible avoid consultation from time to time with Makins here. On such talks we will keep you informed and in order to avoid any possibility crossed wires will look to you to report in detail developments on this subject at Geneva.” (396.1 GE/5–1854) Under Secretary Smith replied in telegram Dulte 88, May 19 that “I shall of course report immediately any developments here on SEA collective security measures and will not take any steps without your instructions. I would hope that Makins could be kept currently informed by you of any developments here so that we may avoid any crossed wires.” (396.1 GE/5–1954)
  3. The U.S. Delegation reported in telegram Dulte 78, May 17, that “Eden had made up his mind to go ahead with five-power military staff talks. He only wanted to await the result of questions in Parliament this afternoon on the basis of which he would then determine whether to take decision himself or whether it would be necessary to refer to Cabinet.” (396.1 GE/5–1754)