396.1 GE/6–2154: Telegram

JohnsonChauvel Meeting, Geneva, June 21, Afternoon: The United States Delegation to the Department of State


Secto 498. Repeated information Paris 479, Saigon 193. Limit distribution. I saw Chauvel this afternoon following his return from Paris. He felt General Smith’s talk with Mendes-France had been most useful. He said he had had long private conversation with Mendes-France, and he was very encouraged at his attitude on Indochina, although Mendes-France’s ignorance of actual situation was still very great.

With respect Mendes-FranceChou meeting, Chauvel said Mendes-France had proposed meeting on outskirts Paris, and Chou had refused meeting any place in France but stated he still wished very much see Mendes-France, would postpone his departure two days if necessary, and would meet any place in Switzerland. Mendes-France has proposed meeting at Bern on Wednesday, but as of this evening Chou’s reply not yet received.1

Under instructions Mendes-France, Chauvel attempting arrange secret meeting this evening with Pham Van Dong in which he will say on behalf Mendes-France that there are limits beyond which France cannot go in settlement, and any settlement must be such that US will not feel obligated “reject it”. Chauvel will urge Viet Minh move ahead in “underground military talks”, in which Chauvel says there has been no progress whatever during past week.

[Page 1210]

Chauvel said Chou’s conversation with Cambodians and Laotians (Secto 4952) bore out his “most optimistic interpretation” of Chou’s conversation with Eden and Bidault.

He said he had renewed his request that DeJean come to Geneva as quickly as possible to assist him, and hoped this would be approved shortly.

He said Mendes-France was anxious that conference reconvene on foreign minister level as soon as possible. Chauvel had pointed out to him that this was dependent upon progress military staff talks. In meanwhile, Chauvel believed conference meetings need not be held more than 2 or 3 times a week.

He discussed with me tactics for tomorrow’s meeting, which will be subject separate message.

  1. In telegram 4999 June 22, from Paris, Ambassador Dillon reported: “Mendes-France has just telephoned Ambassador to say he was leaving 11 tonight for Bern to see Chou En-lai. He also said vague approaches had been made to him to see leader of Viet Minh delegation while there but he had declined offer. Said he would give Ambassador report when he returned.” (651.93/6–2254)
  2. Dated June 21, p. 1211.