396.1 GE/7–854: Telegram

JohnsonOffroy Meeting, Geneva, July 8, Morning: The United States Delegation to the Department of State


Secto 574. Repeated information Paris 23, Saigon 15. Offroy called on Bonsal and me this morning. He described his talk with Tuong Viet Minh delegate (see 6th paragraph Secto 560).1 With reference Dong‘s position on Viet Minh sympathizers south of Dong Hoi line (paragraph 2, Secto 560) French position is that while cease-fire agreement to be signed by the two commands could include provisions for free movement of populations from one regrouping area to the other, as well as arrangements for repatriation of prisoners, etc., this agreement should not include any specific reference to a date for the withdrawal of “foreign troops” from Vietnam or to a date for elections. At most, French would agree that in final declaration of Geneva Conference some general statement be made re territorial integrity of Vietnam, provisions for eventual unity and desirability of democratic processes. Tuong has not yet replied to this statement of position. I urged on Offroy importance including in cease-fire agreement arrangements for movement anti-Communist civilian population from evacuated zones so that responsibility for implementation would be clearly fixed and subject to supervision of international commission.

Offroy furnished us with copy of working paper prepared by French Del with regard to system of controls. He said besides ourselves copies were only being given UK and USSR for their comments. Translation contained Secto 575.2 Offroy reiterated views contained Secto 5683 re [Page 1301] this matter, stated was only “working paper” and French did not consider it binding on them.

While fully understanding our views, he clearly contemplates that agreement with Communists on composition will only be reached if Soviet satellite included. He contemplates that the others would be one or more Asian “neutrals” such as India and a Western country such as Canada or Belgium. He also is convinced that Communists will insist on “veto” on major questions. I expressed concern that French paper does not provide for majority decision in all cases, stating that if contrary to our views French contemplate acquiescing in inclusion Soviet satellite, majority principle is of even greater importance. In reply he stated that with strong possibility that an Asian “neutral” such as India would have decisive vote under majority rule in any Commission, he felt it of equal importance that Western Power on the Commission friendly to our side also be able to exercise a veto on major matters.

We discussed with Offroy present state of Franco-Vietnamese relations and desirability, in our view, that French should take steps to establish close relations with new Vietnamese Del. Bonsal described in general terms his talk with Vietnamese yesterday. (Secto 5714). Offroy expressed some reluctance in view his inability answer questions re current French conversations with Viet Minh plus his rather pessimistic view of possibility of having current Vietnamese Government officials take realistic and helpful view of situation. He suggested perhaps USDel should undertake this task. It is his view that if Vietnamese could be assured that part of Vietnam which will remain under their control after armistice agreement will receive wholehearted support in political, economic and military fields from France and US and other free world powers, their attitude might be improved. We replied that we did not believe it practical at this stage for USDel to be source of information re situation in which French have leadership and are playing major role. Offroy stated he would consider matter further. We hope we made some impression on him.

I raised with Offroy what French contemplated course of events with regard conference would be on Saturday when report of military representatives is due to be made, but he had no views on subject. He said that when he returns, Chauvel might have some views and would communicate with me. He expects Mendes-France on Sunday.5 He asked whether we have heard if anyone would be coming from the US.

  1. Dated July 6, p. 1286.
  2. Dated July 8, p. 1305.
  3. Dated July 7, p. 1294.
  4. Supra.
  5. July 11.