396.1 GE/5–2554: Telegram

SmithBuu Log Meeting, Geneva, May 25, Morning: The United States Delegation to the Department of State


Secto 298. Repeated information Paris 328, Saigon 109. Prince Buu Loc called on me this morning prior to his return to Paris today and [Page 915] then to Saigon. He asked me for my views on the conference and the situation in Indochina. I told him I would speak with the frankness of a soldier to say that with two to one numerical superiority and great superiority in armament the Franco-Vietnamese forces should be able, even under second class general, to defeat the Viet Minh provided there was a political situation and a political leadership behind the lines which would inspire the loyalty of the Vietnamese forces and their determination to win. We were prepared to increase our assistance, particularly in form of a training mission and we thought the record showed our methods of mass production achieved results whether in producing automobiles or training troops. Buu Loc said that he was sure that Bao Dai was more than ever determined not to give up the fight but did not want to return to Vietnam without bringing back the treaties establishing Vietnam’s independence from France fully signed and sealed. When Bao Dai left Saigon in early April he thought this would be accomplished in two or three weeks. Actually the French were refusing to sign these treaties on the pretense that signature must await conclusion of the subordinate financial and cultural agreements, but, actually, Buu Loc thought because the French did not want to commit themselves irrevocably until they saw how the Geneva conference would turn out. He asked our assistance in bringing strongly to French attention the advantage and indeed necessity in signing these accords without further delay. I told him we favored such action and would do what we could to bring it about. Buu Loc said that it was necessary that the Vietnamese Army have more autonomy and national identity. I told him that we sympathized with that idea and that was the idea of General O’Daniel who wished to form Vietnamese divisions. Buu Loc then went on to say that with military autonomy and with assurance of our continued military assistance, Vietnam would keep up the fight even if the French should agree to an armistice or even withdrawal their military forces in Vietnam. Buu Loc felt that Vietnamese National Army supported by US could hold the southeastern quarter of the Tonkin delta. His government was convinced that it must not yield the northern delta to the Communists which would probably thereafter take over southern Vietnam.

He said he was returning promptly to Saigon and had only stayed these last few days because various delegations of Vietnamese nationalists were arriving in Paris and Geneva and had asked him to stay over and brief them. He said he was urging Bao Dai to leave the further negotiations with the French in the hands of the Vietnamese Foreign Minister and Minister Dac Khe and let Buu Loc take the [Page 916] other Ministers now engaged in such negotiations back to Saigon to govern and reorganize the country.