396.1 GE/6–1154: Telegram

The United States Delegation to the Department of State


Secto 425. Repeated information Paris 420, Saigon 163. A delegation of North Vietnamese nationalists, after a three days pow-wow with Bao Dai, have been here in Geneva for two days and are returning next week to Vietnam. The group consists of Le Toan, Pham Huu Chuong, Tran Trungdung, Nguyen Thuc, Nguyen Tienny, Le Quang Luat. Foreign Minister Dinh had me to dinner with them last night.

The apparent leader of the group was Le Toan but the most active and voluble was Dr. Chuong.

In talking with them last night I told them I thought the elements necessary to improve the cause of Vietnam would be formal signature of the independence treaty, more autonomy or separate identity for [Page 1122] the Vietnamese national army (on which the group was insistent) and leadership.

Chuong, accompanied by Hy, called on Heath this morning. Chuong said that Bao Dai had finally agreed to set up in the immediate future, a new government of national unity and under “honest and dedicated” prime minister whose name, however, Chuong did not divulge. He will perhaps be Ngo Dinh Diem. Chuong said that Bao Dai was less interested in signing the treaties than in obtaining agreement from the French that the Vietnamese command would enjoy a definite consultative voice in French military planning and decisions. Chuong said a written proposal for such an arrangement had been tentatively presented by the Vietnamese military but had been rejected by the French high command. Chuong said Bao Dai would not return to Vietnam until he had such an agreement. Heath replied that we could not comment on the proposal until we saw a copy of it but he was of the opinion that the French would not reject any reasonable proposal. If Bao Dai felt strongly about it why did not he go immediately to Paris and take it up with Pleven? Heath went on to say that he understood consultative arrangements between the Vietnamese and French staffs were already in existence adding that formal arrangements were less important than having Vietnamese defense teams with the necessary will and the military knowledge to insure a hearing by the French high command. He added that after Bao Dai’s presentation of his request to Pleven he saw every reason why Bao Dai should return promptly his Vietnam.

Chuong then outlined a project of his group which was the formation of an underground guerrilla force which would infiltrate present Viet Minh territory and operate a stay-behind resistance in any new territory acquired by the Viet Minh. He asked whether American arms and equipment would be available to such a group. He was told no reply could be made in advance of a definite Vietnamese Government request and convincing plan for such operations.

Heath said he had, of course, no criticism to make of the present government or any suggestions about government changes but it was clear that immediate effective and determined governmental performance was vitally necessary in Vietnam. Certainly one element in the hesitancy of friendly nations towards extending assistance to Vietnam was their doubt that there existed an effective cohesive movement determined to fight for the territorial integrity of that country. There was no time to be lost in proving to world opinion that such a movement did exist in Vietnam.