396.1 GE/7–754: Telegram

The United States Delegation to the Department of State


Secto 568. Repeated information Paris 16, London 10, Saigon 13. Secto 563 repeated Paris 14, London 8, Saigon 12.1 Following summarizes results Bonsal conversations today with Tahourdin (UKDel) and Offroy (French Del) principally regarding subject of international control. Bonsal stressed US views on composition, authority, voting, and scope and mobility of commission.

Tahourdin stated that proposed tripartite conversations (France. UK, USSR as envisaged in Secto 5492 and Secto 5603) have not as yet been initiated. French have made no specific approach to UKDel as yet. UKDel here has no authority to make any change in previously assumed positions regarding control organization.

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Lamb dined with Kuznetsov last night. Later discussed question of voting procedure of commission from “practical” point of view indicating that in fact parties would not implement decision handed down by other than unanimous vote on matters of real importance and that hence question of whether voting be unanimous or by majority largely academic. Lamb had impression Kuznetsov earnestly seeking agreement this point. Conversation resulted in no progress. Tahourdin volunteered personal view that solution of question of Chinese position international commission might be reached if our side would accept one Communist insisting at same time on inclusion, in addition to selected Colombo powers, “one proper neutral” presumably from Western Europe. He said that we should of course maintain insistence on vote by majority on all matters and on prior acceptance by parties of authority of commission.

Offroy informed Bonsal that French Del paper regarding control mechanism has been completed and approved by Foreign Office legal adviser Gros. Chauvel intends to take it to Paris this afternoon for Mendes-France approval. Offroy stated that he would get us copy of paper as soon as possible and that plan was to submit it as basis for discussion to UK and USSR delegations. He emphasized paper does not reflect final position and he added it does not go into matter of composition which Offroy regards as question to be decided by Ministers. It provides for acceptance by parties of majority decisions of commission on less important questions while at same time providing that in case of important violations or threats to peace, commission must reach unanimous agreement or refer majority and minority opinions to guarantors, i.e., Geneva powers.

Offroy had talk recently with Novikov who expressed adamant position on inclusion at least one Communist power on control commission and on necessity for unanimous decision on really important cases.

Offroy‘s personal philosophy on this matter on international control is that control cannot hope, under circumstances, to be effective in itself. Nor does he envisage that whatever guarantee arrangement Geneva powers may be able to set up will produce practical action. It is his thought, however, that presence of international commission some of whose members will be in position to make trustworthy reports on developments plus probability that majority of guaranteeing powers will approve these reports will be of greatest importance in mobilizing free world public opinion for whatever action may be necessary to stop further Communist advances in Southeast Asia. He cites Korean precedent.

Offroy contemplates a settlement which would leave Laos, Cambodia and part of Vietnam on this side of the “bamboo curtain”. At game time, interested powers (US, UK, France, Australia, New Zealand, [Page 1296] Thailand, Philippines and possibly others) would set up SEA defense pact. This pact would become operative in event violation of Geneva arrangements for Indochina. Offroy does not contemplate that “combined Vietnam”, Laos and Cambodia would participate directly in pact although they would be guarantors of Geneva arrangements.

Offroy‘s view of military situation in Tonkin delta colors his thinking on this whole subject. He believes that in absence of truce or of very substantial reinforcements in the order of three divisions, French will be obliged, in addition to current withdrawal from south delta which was militarily essential, to evacuate Hanoi before end of September and retreat to Haiphong redoubt. He is convinced defeat at Dien Bien Phu radically altered balance of military strength in North Vietnam and that Franco-Vietnamese attempt to hold more than Haiphong redoubt this fall against assault of which enemy fully capable would result in major disaster because enemy would cut lifeline between Hanoi and Haiphong.

As Department is aware Offroy has spent two years in Saigon as Diplomatic Adviser to High Commissioner and was recently named Ambassador to Thailand. He was in Indochina in May and had many contacts with French military leaders. He states that his views reflect current French military thinking. He is unfamiliar with and skeptical of capacities new Vietnamese political leaders.

Offroy convinced Ministers must settle demarcation line in Vietnam, status of Laos and Cambodia, composition and powers of international control commission and other topics although possibly agreements will be reached through private bilateral or trilateral conversations rather than at conference table. Durability of any basic agreements reached will depend on degree to which US and other free world powers effectively guarantee such agreements through willingness to take action in event of violations.

  1. Dated July 6, p. 1291.
  2. Dated July 1, p. 1266.
  3. Dated July 6, p. 1286.