396.1 GE/7–1054: Telegram

The United States Delegation to the Department of State


Secto 583. Repeated information Paris 31, Saigon 22. Pass Defense. Bonsal and Dwan talked to Offroy (French delegate) today and presented comments on French delegation working paper on control of cessation of hostilities in Vietnam along lines Secto 577.1 Offroy said he had written basic paper but that it had been somewhat modified in course of staffing. He took notes on comments and seemed particularly persuaded by several points, although overall effect remains to be seen. He has also had comments from UK and Soviet delegates.

Offroy acknowledged that word “assure” in first sentence Article 6 has connotation of enforcement, although he did not say whether he would suggest amendment. Re Article 6(B) Offroy fully agreed special provision should be made for either evacuating or disarming irregular forces as a practical matter. He also appeared to be persuaded by suggestion that locations of fixed teams covered in Article 8 should be subject to relocation only if both sides agreed. Re fourth paragraph of Article 8, he said intention of wording here not to restrict right of mobile teams to proceed to necessary points of inspection, including airports, but merely to require as practical matter that their movement to such points be coordinated with command of side in which they operated. He said French Union side would want to [Page 1328] regulate movement of mobile teams in its own area outside of action zones in reciprocal fashion. Re Article 9, he seemed to agree that some provision might be made for control of local arms and ammunition manufacturing plants.

Concerning two fundamental questions of binding authority of [garbled group] international commission (Article 12) and voting procedure (Article 15), Offroy said his original draft specifically stated that decisions of international commission would be binding on the sides but that this was modified so draft now makes decisions of international commission binding only implicitly. Here he cited wording Article 12. Reason for modification, he said, was that since this was particularly critical issue, Soviets might find it more difficult to accept if point were emphasized by being flatly stated. We pointed out that if Soviets were not prepared to accept this point it would be well to find it out before cease-fire, and emphasized strongly we felt this point should be positively stated. Concerning majority vote on minor subjects and unanimous vote on major ones, Offroy said French delegation believes Soviets will never accept principle of majority vote on all issues. Furthermore, French believe that veto provision will safeguard their interests as well in the event international commission is so composed that Asian state, perhaps India, unsympathetic with French role in Indochina, is placed in role on commission of swinging balance. Furthermore as practical matter international commission itself cannot take any effective action to stop a serious violation of agreement if one side willfully intends to break it, and that various questions must in any case be dealt with by states willing to guarantee conditions after cessation of hostilities; regarding Article 14 Offroy said not intention of French draft that recommendations of international commission concerning amendments to agreement should be binding on sides, and seemed to agree that clarification of wording would be desirable. Re Article 16, Bonsal explained we reserved comment on this Article since question of guarantees still not sufficiently developed by conference.

In response to question about what French envisage would be “demilitarized section” referred to in Article 6(C), Offroy said French initially had in mind Catholic bishoprics of Bui Chiu and Phat Diem in southern part of delta (from which forces of two sides would withdraw leaving police functions to Catholic militia) and zones separating troops of both sides along demarcation line and around one or more enclaves. Since withdrawals in delta, Offroy believes it is now less likely Viet Minh will accept demilitarization of bishoprics, but French will try get agreement on this.

  1. Dated July 9, p. 1311.