The Ambassador in France ( Dillon ) to the Department of State
5037. Repeated information Saigon 630, Geneva priority 444. Limit distribution. Re Deptel 4756.1 As a result of conversations with Chauvel and Parodi this afternoon I feel that Department is unduly concerned regarding Chauvel‘s supposed evasiveness on underground military talks. After he had told me about Mendes talk with Chou, he said that he was going to Geneva to try and reactivate the military talks and he volunteered to keep Johnson fully informed.
In answer to direct question he said there had been no further secret military talks since the departure from Geneva of the Undersecretary. Regarding details of the military settlement I asked Chauvel what the French thinking was and he replied that it was now clear that the French could have a clean-cut division of the country. They would try [Page 1239] their best to maintain an enclave some sort in the north. The difficulty in this lies in the fact that they do not wish under any circumstances to allow the Viet Minh a similar enclave in the south. Chauvel said he had been discussing this very matter with Ely today and their first preoccupation is that the territory which they will retain in the south must be absolutely clear of Viet Minh troops and influence. They will try their best in addition to obtain some sort of enclave in the Delta but they are not sure whether or not they will be successful. Comment: From talking with Chauvel I get clear impression that French will not break off negotiations over the question of an enclave in the north. In other words, if Viet Minh delegation continues to hold absolutely firm for a division of the country the French will eventually accept.
Chauvel said that he realized US wish that everything be done to avoid a situation that looked like partition. He said that this would be done by indicating clearly that settlement was merely an armistice and that Vietnam would continue to be considered as one country and would eventually be reunited under one government after free elections had taken place at some indeterminate time in the future.
I emphasized to Chauvel necessity of keeping in close touch with Johnson and he was in full agreement. I think his lack of clarity in his last talk with Johnson was simply due to the fact that he had no new information and was not himself certain at that time as to what the French position would be.