751G.00/6–954: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the United States Delegation1

top secret

Tedul 178. Eyes only for Ambassadors. Ambassador Bonnet came to see Secretary Dulles Wednesday afternoon and raised question of participation of US Marines Indochina. He said he had received telegram from Maurice Schumann expressing excitement and dismay at information from Valluy that Radford had said there was no question of utilization Marines Indochina. Ambassador said this conflicted with what French Govt had hitherto understood to be intentions US Govt this respect. He further stated suggestion made by Radford to Valluy that three Korean divisions might be used in Indochina was unacceptable.

Secretary said US position had been clear from start and that we were not willing to make commitment ahead of time which French could use for internal political maneuvering or negotiating at Geneva and which would represent a kind of permanent option on US intervention if it suited their purpose. A month ago, French had been explicitly informed conditions which must be met and fulfilled by them before President took decision whether to go to Congress and ask for authority use American armed forces in relation Indochina. Among [Page 1101] these conditions was need for French and Associated States to request US and certain other interested countries to come in. We were still in dark as to what French intentions really were.

Secretary said he felt French desire obtain firm commitment from us on which they could draw was understandable, but equally understandable in circumstances is our determination not to give them such blank check. Secretary confirmed US position as stated by Dillon (4766 from Paris2) that use of Marines would not be excluded provided an agreed operational plan required their presence. He said it was useless and illusory to attempt to obtain from us at this time a commitment more specific on this point than that which we had already given.

With regard to what we would do in event act of open aggression by Chinese, Secretary read relevant extracts (last four paragraphs of section Roman four) from his Los Angeles speech which is being separately transmitted.3

Bonnet expressed surprise that we considered that French Govt had not made up its mind with regard to internationalization of Indochina war and said he considered request had already been made by French. Secretary pointed out that our offer on basis certain specific conditions had been made a month ago in context of situation at that time, which confirmed and made precise much earlier representations. Since then things had changed rapidly and would doubtless continue to change. For this reason delay was regrettable, and further delay would not improve situation with regard to any role we might consider playing.4

  1. Drafted by Tyler of EUR/WE. Repeated to Paris as telegram 4476, to Saigon as telegram 2551, and to London as telegram 6684.
  2. Dated June 9; for text, see volume xiii.
  3. For the text of the speech delivered by the Secretary of State at Los Angeles on June 11, see Department of State Bulletin, June 28, 1954, pp. 971–973.
  4. Under Secretary Smith replied in telegram Dulte 165, June 10, as follows: “I pointed out to Bidault several days ago and again yesterday to Chauvel that before any US forces could be engaged in Indochina a resolution authorizing the President to take such action must be passed by Congress; that before such a resolution could be passed certain conditions must be fulfilled, such as, for example, association of other states in intervention, request for assistance by France, et cetera. I explained that should such a resolution be passed participation of Marines would not be excluded since Marines were part of Navy.” (751G.00/6–1054)