751G.00/6–3054: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Embassy in France 1

top secret
limit distribution

8. Re Embtel 5117.2

Partition line taken from Five Power Conference report and Dong-Hoi used as point of reference to avoid confusion between two systems, French and English, of parallels. Actual line thought of forms triangular promontory with apex at about 20th parallel (French system).
Implication paragraph on timing elections due to use of expression “final settlement and troop withdrawal” is that Mendes-France thinking of withdrawing entire French Expeditionary Corps from all of Viet Nam within next six months. “Withdrawal”, on other hand, could mean deployment into agreed regroupment areas. Does Mendes seek agreement allowing reassembly in retained Viet Nam those Expeditionary Troops withdrawn from Tonkin and indefinite maintenance in retained Viet Nam of French forces now stationed there or are French prepared agree withdraw from all Viet Nam all French forces within matter of months? This requires full and urgent clarification.
Dillon with Mendes and Johnson with Chauvel should urgently seek such clarification.
  1. Drafted by Fisher of EUR/WE. Repeated to Saigon as telegram 15 and to Geneva as telegram Tosec 506.
  2. In telegram 5117 from Paris, June 30, Ambassador Dillon reported on a discussion between British Ambassador to France Sir Gladwyn Jebb and Premier Mendès-France on June 30. Ambassador Jebb indicated Mendès-France had confirmed that negotiations with the Viet Minh at Geneva were stalled. He said Mendès-France was perplexed by a reference in a British note to a “‘line running generally west from Dong Hoi’ as possible partition line for while Dong Hoi is approximately at 17.5 degrees French had been holding out for 18th Parallel in face Viet Minh wanting 13th.” On the question of elections, Ambassador Jebb quoted Mendès-France “as stating that the Viet Minh wanted them to be held in six months but that the French were taking the position that they should be delayed for a year after final settlement and withdrawal of troops had been achieved. This, as presently envisaged, would mean a year and half to two years from now.” (751G.00/6–3054)