396.1 GE/7–654: Telegram

The United States Delegation to the Department of State


Secto 559. Repeated information Paris 11, Saigon 9. Dac Khe, Minister of Democratization in Buu Loc Cabinet and member Vietnamese delegation here has expressed following views to Bonsal:

Continued duration Geneva Conference is sapping will to fight and morale of Franco-Vietnamese forces. Prolongation of conference will be increasingly damaging.
Mendes-France and other French leaders are not keeping Vietnamese informed of their plans and of their negotiations with Viet Minh. If presented with unacceptable terms for ending of conflict, Vietnamese will walk out of conference. (Dac Khe did not define terms he would consider unacceptable; he is aware of probability French willing give up entire Tonkin delta.)
Dac Khe is hopeful but not confident that Diem, for whom he has admiration and respect, will be able to rally Vietnamese people. However, he insists on essentiality of true independence, i.e., rapid conclusion of current negotiations and establishment without delay of truly autonomous Vietnamese Army. In common with many other Vietnamese, Dac Khe holds that while development Vietnamese National Army and related forces has been satisfactory from quantitative standpoint, fact French High Command has regarded Vietnamese [Page 1289] Armed Forces merely as source of manpower to be used piecemeal as required and has not permitted that army to operate as integrated fighting force (coordinated of course by Unified Command) has had disastrous effect on morale of Vietnamese forces.
Dac Khe is critical of Bao Dai‘s behavior and admits Bao Dai is physically and morally depressed. Nevertheless he holds that it would be major error to press for Bao Dai‘s resignation at this time. Resignation would result in removal symbol of unity and tradition which is still valuable asset.
Dac Khe expressed confidence inhabitants of recently evacuated provinces (he himself is native of Phuly though absent many years) and particularly Catholics would give Viet Minh much trouble. He believed guerrilla networks were in existence.
Dac Khe anxious and perplexed regarding US attitude toward Vietnam. He hopes new government will justify continued US support. He believes US backing major asset and one which Communists truly respect and therefore one whose strength or weakness will have important bearing on terms of settlement if one is reached here or on possibility of continuing struggle if no settlement is reached.