Memorandum of Conversation, by the Secretary of State


During the course of the discussions at the Embassy this afternoon, Ambassador Johnson suggested to Secretary Dulles that he felt that [Page 1362] Mr. Mendes-France and Mr. Eden might not fully comprehend the position of the US with reference to “guaranteeing” a settlement which would turn over much of Vietnam to the Communists. Thereupon, Secretary Dulles drew Mr. Mendes-France and Mr. Eden aside with him and said he wished to make it crystal clear that the US could never join in any guarantee to the Communists of the fruits of their aggression. The US did accept it as a fact that certain people became the victims of Communist aggression, and it was not prepared itself to go to war or to encourage others to go to war to rectify the situation. However, this was not the same as to say the US would become an ally of the Communists if there were a breach of the agreement by non-Communists.

It would be compatible with the foregoing that the US should make a unilateral declaration to the effect that in accordance with its obligations under the UN Charter, it would not resort to force to upset an agreement if it were arrived at, and it would seek to bring others to act correspondingly. Also the US could agree with others to react with force to Communist aggression in violation of the agreement. This, however, would have to be conditional upon Senate ratification of the treaty and/or Congressional approval of belligerency.

Mr. Mendes-France and Mr. Eden expressed their understanding of the US position. Mr. Eden stated that he hoped that the UK and others, including many South Asian countries, would be able to associate themselves with a declaration by the US against the use of force to overturn the Geneva agreements.

Ambassador Johnson and Mr. MacArthur were present during the above conversation.


Paris Talks, July 13–14, 1954


We have had intimate and frank discussions. These have resulted in a clear understanding of our respective positions in relation to Indochina.

The United States Secretary of State, Mr. John Foster Dulles, explained fully the attitude of his Government toward the Indochinese phase of the Geneva Conference and the limitations which that government desired to observe as not itself having a primary responsibility in the Indochina war.

The French Premier and Foreign Minister, M. Pierre Mendes-France, expressed the view with which Mr. Anthony Eden, the Secretary [Page 1363] of State for Foreign Affairs for the United Kingdom, associated himself, that it would nevertheless serve the interests of France and of the Associated States, and of the peace and freedom of the area, if the United States, without departing from the principles which Mr. Dulles expressed, were once again to be represented at Geneva at the ministerial level.

Accordingly, President Eisenhower and Secretary Dulles are requesting the United States Under Secretary of State, General Walter Bedell Smith, to return to Geneva at an early date.