790.5/5–2054: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the United States Delegation1

top secret

Tedul 98. Limit distribution. We consider it necessary that we and British work as closely as possible and have as full an understanding as possible of each other’s viewpoints and objectives with regard to Southeast Asian problems. This particularly important in view recent trend drifting apart from each other and resulting adverse effect Western unity. We hope that British now understand what we are doing in the talks with French at Paris. We are not so sure we have a full understanding of what Eden has in mind with regard to the Colombo powers. We do fully concur that he should, in the first instance, work with these powers and with Canada and have concurred specifically with his point on this in the terms of reference for the five power military staff talks. We do however believe that this point should not preclude us from talking with the representatives of these states here in Washington or at their capitals it being understood that we would take pains not to work at cross purposes with the British and would keep Eden fully informed.

We note (Dulte 662) that British concur in our concept of parallel lines of development, one with regard to military staff talks and other with regard collective grouping in Southeast Asia. We would like fullest information obtainable regarding Eden’s views on the latter. You should express our great concern that if we were to await final outcome of Geneva before doing anything further with respect to Southeast Asia we would be playing into hands Communists who can stall at Geneva while pressing military situation in Indochina to point where Associated States may be beyond saving and it would be too late enlist active cooperation other states in area or draw anything like an effective or satisfactory line to be held at all costs. Consequently we believe that prior outcome Geneva we must, in addition to having military talks, get UN POC into area soonest, clarify possibilities of military participation of US and others within Indochina itself and continue preparations for collective efforts even though precise stand to be taken by collective group cannot yet be determined in light uncertainties (1) military-political developments within Viet Nam (2) French position (3) prospects for armistice at Geneva. We also hope that our talks with French in Paris may help to bolster [Page 869] French at Geneva and to give Communists cause for concern that might help achievement more acceptable armistice.

We plan talk to Makins here soonest along foregoing lines.

  1. Drafted by Fisher of EUR/WE. Repeated to Paris as telegram 4188 and to London as telegram 6227.
  2. Dated May 13, p. 791.