396.1 GE/7–1254: Telegram

The Ambassador at Saigon (Heath) to the Department of State


150. Repeated information Paris 62, Geneva 29, Hanoi unnumbered. I conveyed to Diem this morning oral message from Secretary transmitted in Department’s 121, July 10, sent Geneva Tosec 529.1 He was appreciative of message but obviously disappointed it did not provide for France keeping up fight and American intervention in case Viet Minh refused his minimum requirements of retention of Hanoi-Haiphong parallelogram plus return to Vietnamese administration of south delta provinces, particularly bishoprics of Phat Diem and Bui Chu. Nevertheless, he was heartened to note that America and Britain were opposed to any restrictions on Vietnam’s maintaining adequate forces for internal security, to import arms and to employ foreign advisers. He was however somewhat worried about phrase “adequate for internal security.” In normal circumstances Vietnam could get along with a relatively small army to maintain internal order. Under present circumstances of Communist infiltration and threat, Vietnam would need a much larger, stronger army than she now possesses.

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He asked me urgently to have Secretary’s message repeated by US Geneva delegation to Foreign Minister Do.2 He said he could of course telegraph latter but he very much feared French had “broken” Vietnamese code. As regards scheme of trading “regroupment zones” for Viet Minh in south in return for Viet Minh agreement to allow Vietnamese Government to retain Hanoi and southern provinces in Tonkin delta, he said that on reconsideration only southern regroupment zones they could afford militarily, economically, and politically to leave to Viet Minh would be Plane des Jones and southwest corner of Vietnam around Ha Tien (cf. Embtel 1153). He had telegraphed his Foreign Minister in Geneva and urged him to be “persuasive” in convincing Mendes-France of necessity of retention of Hanoi and south Tonkin delta provinces.

In conclusion Diem said that his government was gravely handicapped by opposition of Binh Xuyen, Cao Daists, and Hoa Haos, but he believed he would be able to overcome or nullify this opposition. His government was in terribly difficult situation but he was convinced he would succeed.

  1. Dated July 10, p. 1324.
  2. The Department of State in telegram Tosec 533, July 12, instructed the U.S. Delegation to “convey orally to Foreign Minister Do gist Secretary’s message to Prime Minister Diem.” (396.1 GE/7–1254) The instruction was carried out on July 13; see telegram Secto 596, July 13, p. 1347.
  3. Telegram 115 from Saigon, July 9, not printed. (601.51G11/7–954)