396.1 GE/6–554: Telegram

The United States Delegation to the Department of Defense


Army Message Gento 50. Action Defense; repeated action USARMAs London, Paris, Saigon and Department State. From Defense representative Geneva. For Hensel from Sullivan. Following is summary French-VN military talks with Viet Minh 4 June reported to Defense representative by member French delegation:

At four hour session Viet Minh referred to statement of Pham Van Dong at 25 May restricted session of delegations as basis upon which military talks should proceed, and suggested military representatives reach agreement thereon.
French representative took position that Dong proposal not acceptable basis for discussion since it dealt with political and economic subjects and only incidentally strategic ones. French representative maintained discussion should deal with concrete proposals and not with principles of nature those in Dong’s statement. Referred again to Laniel proposal of 5 March as concrete suggestion and basis for further discussion. Invited Viet Minh to table concrete proposal of their own.
Viet Minh representative said situation had changed since 5 March; said French had suffered many reverses and many casualties, condemned Laniel proposal as “provocation”, and said world opinion also condemned it. French representative responded that Viet Minh had also suffered heavily and that a battle lost is not a war lost as history of French nation testifies.
Viet Minh representative contended he could not discuss specific details without agreement on principles first.
Comment: No indications of progress in this meeting. French delegation contact expressed opinion that Viet Minh tactic of agreement on Dong principles would be dangerous since Communists could claim that French refusal to agree later to specific proposals allegedly in consonance with the principles demonstrated French bad faith. French still contend they will not fall into trap of beginning detailed talks in Indochina before agreement reached here on framework for [Page 1047] talks in the field. French delegation contact noted that Viet Minh group consisted of only one military officer and is of opinion that Viet Minh may not be serious about reaching military agreements in Geneva, preferring that talks take place in field.