396.1 GE/6–2554: Telegram

The United States Delegation to the Department of State

top secret

Secto 527. Repeated information Saigon 216, Paris 505, Phnom Penh, Vientiane unnumbered. Chauvel saw Dong this morning. According to Chauvel, Dong was very “agreeable” and anxious to reach agreement with the least possible delay. Chauvel spoke of the necessity of retaining Haiphong enclave and the question of protection for the inhabitants of the Bishoprics of Phat Diem and Bui Chu as well as leaving line as far north as possible. Dong replied that these should not present too much difficulty.

Chauvel told Dong he did not himself wish to deal with purely military questions. Those should be left to French and Viet Minh military representatives. Chauvel explained that he was not personally familiar with Indochina nor was he a military expert and accordingly thought that his conversations with Dong should be only on political and larger questions. Dong agreed.

Dong was insistent on an early interview with Mendes-France, but when Chauvel explained that it would be “extremely imprudent” for Mendes-France to see Dong, either secretly or openly, at this time, Dong said that he would defer to Chauvel‘s judgment. Chauvel told Dong that when their talks reached agreement and the ministers returned to Geneva, Dong could then see Mendes-France.

Dong said that the Laotians were not difficult to deal with but the Cambodians most decidedly were. Dong asked whether France had any [Page 1249] objection to Viet Minh negotiations with the Cambodians alone in Geneva with no French representative present. Chauvel assured him there was no objection (however, there will be a Frenchman on Cambodian staff of talks in Cambodia). Dong told Chauvel that the French military representative in the Franco-Laotian-Viet Minh talks was “difficult”.

Kuznetzov, whom Chauvel had not previously known, called on Chauvel this morning. Chauvel said Kuznetzov was very friendly and hoped Chauvel would dine with him soon. In their talk Kuznetzov seemed “flexible” on question controls, but Chauvel agreed there was no evidence flexibility in Kuznetzov’s speech in today’s restricted session which merely repeated rigidly the old Soviet position on the powers and functions of the control commissions.

Chauvel expects to see Kuznetzov and will suggest that Sir Leo Lamb, acting British delegate and co-chairman, also talk with him and endeavor to get the Soviets to abate their terms on controls. Chauvel stated that the French still insist on effective control of armistice terms.