751G.00/6–1654: Telegram

HeathOffroy Meeting, Geneva, June 15, Evening: The United States Delegation to the Department of State

top secret

Dulte 184. Repeated information Paris 441. Eyes only Ambassador. Heath last night saw Offroy, French Ambassador Thailand, whom [Page 1151] Bidault had appointed to “watch over” the talks in Geneva between representatives of the Viet Minh and Franco-Vietnamese Commands. Offroy expressed a personal preference that the terms of reference of these talks be expanded to include discussion of such political problems as would undoubtedly arise in any practical plan for cessation of hostilities.

He went on to say, speaking personally, he thought a mistake had been made in not drawing the Viet Minh out on their proposal of May 25.1 Discussion of that proposal would lead, he thought, to the Viet Minh unveiling their real proposal, which was one of partition.

He rather hesitantly advanced the idea that partition might be the only practical solution unless “internationalization” of the war occurred promptly. He personally thought that neither a new government nor the Assembly at this time would consider taking up the “option” of American interventions, as outlined in the Secretary’s Los Angeles speech of June 11.2 The Assembly would want to hear first a final Viet Minh proposal. In its present mood the Assembly would accept such a proposal if it were at all reasonable. If, however, the Viet Minh took an extreme, intransigent stand then American intervention might be requested.

There was another circumstance, Offroy thought in which the Assembly and government might ask American aid. If the Viet Minh attacked Hanoi and it seemed the latter would fall there would be two possible reactions in France. One would be insistence on a cease-fire on almost any conditions. The other reaction of public opinion might be one of anger and determination to carry on the fight, asking American intervention. He, Offroy, would not venture to predict which of these alternative reactions would occur. He was afraid if the latter occurred that the US would decline intervene on a last-minute call for help on the grounds that it would then be too late to save Hanoi. Heath made no comment on this observation.

Offroy objected to Eden’s proposal that the conference adjourn pending a report from the military representatives of the two commands. He thought it extremely important that at least a skeleton conference sit while those talks were still in progress in order to hear reports on developments in those conversations and to provide guidance for the military representatives. He assumed that such conference [Page 1152] delegates as remained in Geneva would not meet daily but would reconvene instantly as occasion required.

In conclusion, Offroy reiterated he had expressed personal views and asked his name not be divulged in connection therewith.

  1. Made at the Sixth Restricted Session, May 25. See telegram Secto 302, May 26, p. 920.
  2. For the text of the speech delivered by the Secretary at Los Angeles on June 11, see Department of State Bulletin, June 28, 1954, pp. 971–973.