110.12 SM/6–1854: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the United States Delegation 1

top secret

Tedul 218. Eyes only for Under Secretary and Ambassador from Secretary. Ur Dulte 197.2 This poses difficult problem. On one hand [Page 1188] we do not want to discourage Mendes France initial effort at what may be policy of cooperation with US nor do we wish to do anything to make more unhappy French feeling arising out of ChurchillEden visit. On the other hand we here are in process rethinking our entire position regarding Indochina in light developments at Geneva and Paris. We need your contribution and hence no firm position will be reached until your return.

On balance we believe advisable you accept Mendes France invitation although we would prefer you to take extra time which would be involved in calling briefly on him rather than having him come to airport to see you which carries a certain emergency and feverish character which is inappropriate to our desire to make a calm fresh start covering whole gamut of our problems with French including EDC.

It seems that if you call on him you could better regulate time and character of visit and explain it as a courtesy call—an explanation which hardly fits into a hurried airport meeting.

If you do see Mendes France hope you will find it practicable principally to gather his intentions without any explicit or implicit commitment of our own.3

As far as substance is concerned believe President’s letter to Coty gives guidance and that it will be well to keep within 4 corners of that letter.4

  1. Drafted by the Secretary of State. Repeated to Paris as telegram 4671.
  2. Supra .
  3. Under Secretary Smith replied in telegram Dulte 198, June 19, that he agreed “completely with procedure you suggest [in Tedul 218] re Mendes-France and will keep plane departure flexible enough to act accordingly. Will also remain within substance of President’s letter.” (396.1 GE/6–1954) The Department of State replied in Tedul 223, June 19, that “If Mendes-France still desires see you despite absence Assembly approval his Cabinet and if Dillon concurs, we believe it would still be appropriate for you pay courtesy call in Paris on Mendes-France en route home.” (396.1 GE/6–1954)

    Smith met for an hour and a quarter with Mendès-France on June 20 at the Quai d’Orsay in Paris. In telegram 4944 from Paris, June 20, Ambassador Dillon reported that the Under Secretary and the Premier discussed various matters pertaining to Indochina and to the Geneva Conference, in particular negotiations at Geneva between France and the Viet Minh. The Under Secretary emphasized the importance of the French Delegation in Geneva keeping in touch with the U.S. Delegation regarding any negotiations with the Viet Minh “so that we would not be suddenly faced with a solution from which we would have to publicly disassociate ourselves.” With reference to an agreement with the Viet Minh, Mendés-France indicated that he expected to have considerable difficulty with the Vietnamese. He said the Vietnamese representatives would “place great weight on any advice they might get from the United States and he hoped that the United States would be able to help France by discreetly letting the Vietnamese representatives know that they would be wise to accept the French agreement with the Viet Minh as the best agreement obtainable.” Ambassador Dillon reported that the Under Secretary did not commit himself in any way on this subject. (751G.00/6–2054) For the full text of telegram 4944, see volume xiii .

  4. President Eisenhower’s letter to President Coty, June 16, and the reply by President Coty, June 23, are printed in Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1954, pp. 583–584.