Conference files, lot 60 D 627. CF 810

The Acting Secretary of State to the Secretary of State

top secret

Dear Foster: During your absence as brief as it has been, it seems to have become increasingly clear that the basic decision which confronts you regarding Geneva is whether you want the United States to be particeps to an agreement on Indochina which, in the light of the Geneva conversations, cannot be happy from the American point of view. Nothing has happened so far which provides encouragement for belief that a satisfactory understanding would eventuate. I doubt you have expected that. The United States is not a belligerent in the Indochina hostilities and barring overt Red Chinese participation, perhaps will not enter at this late hour. In view of the British obvious determination to see some form, almost any, of settlement, and what appears an unmistakable trend in Paris on the political side to achieve a settlement, we have the concomitant of a French effort to nudge us into some form of military participation. I think you have said that if the latter effort is designed to strengthen the position at Geneva, there will be no objection; but if it will lead to compromising the conditions laid down by the United States for participation, that was to be avoided. At the risk of belaboring the obvious, it is suggested that giving instructions to Bedell without a clear-cut conviction whether in the end we wish to be parties to an agreement of settlement for Indochina, whether termed “honorable” or not, is an exceedingly difficult undertaking. The arguments for and against are fairly clear. Our tactical position would be best protected if the United States would not be particeps. I hope that we can have the benefit of your guidance on this basic consideration after your return.

We have elaborated some thoughts on both Korea and Indo-China which are enclosed in the forms of a copy of our Tosec 3161 and a staff memorandum on Indo-China, Tedul 144.2

I hope the short break you had was beneficial.

All the best.


Robert Murphy
  1. Dated May 81, p. 326.
  2. Supra.