Memorandum of Conversation, by the Adviser to the United States Delegation (Bonsal)

top secret


  • Tezenas du Montcel, Minister of the Associated States
  • Philip W. Bonsal


  • Visit to General Smith of Bao Dai’s Personal Representative, Ngo Dinh Luyen

Pursuant to General Smith’s approval of the recommendation contained in my memorandum of May 21,1 I asked Tezenas du Montcel to come to see me. He did so on Saturday evening, May 22.

Emphasizing the highly sensitive and confidential nature of what I was about to tell him, I gave Tezenas du Montcel a broad outline of the approach made to General Smith by Ngo Dinh Luyen in the capacity of Bao Dai’s personal representative. I indicated that the major purpose of the approach seemed to be in order to find out to what extent Bao Dai could count on American support in the event that present French support should appear to weaken for any reason. I told Tezenas du Montcel that General Smith had stressed in the most emphatic terms to Ngo Dinh Luyen his conviction regarding French resolution and determination under present circumstances. I added that no reply had as yet been given to Ngo Dinh Luyen with regard to the questions which he had asked. I said also that we are somewhat puzzled as to whether Ngo Dinh Luyen is in fact accurately stating the views of His Majesty. He may be serving more as a mouthpiece of his brother, Ngo Dinh Diem.

Tezenas du Montcel expressed great appreciation of General Smith’s action in seeing that the French were informed of this move. He assured me of his realization of the very sensitive nature of this information. [Page 895] He said that it was his impression there was no love lost between Bao Dai and Ngo Dinh Diem and that in the past when Bao Dai had spoken of the possibility of giving Ngo Dinh Diem the post of Prime Minister, it had been with the idea of breaking Ngo Dinh Diem’s back (“pour lui casser les reins”).

In conclusion Bonsal said that we had merely listened to Ngo Dinh Luyen and had given him no answers regarding our policies in certain contingencies. Bonsal said that we would not give such answers in the absence of coordination with the French.

  1. A memorandum dated May 21 from Bonsal to Under Secretary Smith has not been found in Department of State files.