396.1 GE/6–954: Telegram

The United States Delegation to the Department of Defense1


Army Message Gento 53. Action Department of Defense and State Department; information USARMAs Paris, London and Saigon. [Page 1102]From US Defense representative Geneva. For Hensel from Sullivan. Following is summary French-VN military talks with Viet Minh 8 June reported to Defense representative by member French del:

Viet Minh representative was not prepared to specify areas in North Vietnam over which Viet Minh claim military superiority, as requested by French at previous days session, and urged French representative to give such information for all of Vietnam.
French representative acceded and described limits of all areas in Vietnam over which French claim their forces hold military superiority (French del contact reported that areas so described by French representative presented “optimistic” picture from their point of view and included territory which, in some cases, is “rotten” with Viet Minh infiltration. We will attempt to secure detailed information tomorrow on areas described).
Bulk of session devoted to lengthy exchanges of opposing views on validity French claims, each side using different criteria to determine what constitutes military supremacy over an area. Viet Minh representative stated he would present Viet Minh claims but did not say when.
French representative proposed text of joint telegram of instructions to be sent by both sides to their military commanders in Indochina, directing commanders to appoint liaison officers to make contact with view to meeting of delegations in the field. Meeting place for liaison officers suggested as one of the three places used in exchange of wounded POWs. French representative further proposed text of joint communiqué to be issued by military representatives Geneva, announcing this action. Viet Minh stated they would consider proposal and reply next meeting.
French del contact states French representative does not plan to engage in further dispute with Viet Minh over validity French area claims until Viet Minh describe areas over which they claim military superiority.
Further stated French representative proposal for joint telegram to commanders designed to counter expected Viet Minh charge that French have not lived up to 29 May agreement to establish contact “on the spot”. Viet Minh charge to this effect in fact was made by Dong (Viet Minh del) in 8 June Indochina Plenary (French del contact has said that military delegation is being assembled in Indochina, prepared to establish contact with Viet Minh when orders received to do so.) Bidault stated in reply to Dong that necessary instructions have been issued. Presumably this referred to preparatory arrangements only since authorization to meet with Viet Minh representatives in field apparently not issued.
French del contact says his delegation feels orders for representatives opposing sides to meet in field must be in form of joint instructions arising from agreement reached at Geneva. Otherwise, attempts by commanders in field to make contacts under separate orders from their governments could create impression that new French Union Commander, General Ely, has been sent Indochina in role of supplicant for armistice.

  1. Transmitted in two sections. Section two could not be located.