396.1 GE/7–1454: Telegram
The United States Delegation to the Department of State
Secto 604. Repeated information priority Paris 55. Limit distribution. Eyes only Dillon and Johnson. With reference Secto 598,1 Cheysson of French delegation today gave me somewhat more detailed account of yesterday’s meetings between Mendes-France and Chou Enlai and between Mendes-France and Dong.
Although I am sure Mendes-France himself has already given Secretary this information, am transmitting Cheysson‘s account and his comments as of possible interest.
Yesterday morning Chou En-lai told Mendes-France that present difference of demarcation line must be settled and that it was up to both sides to make concessions with Viet Minh making the major concession. Mendes-France repeated that French position on Dong Hoi line was firm.
Later Mendes-France received Dong and they had lengthy discussion of line. Finally Dong stated he was ready to go as far as 16th parallel (this runs just south of Tourane). Mendes-France stated this was unacceptable and that French position remained at or about the 18th parallel. Mendes-France stated that it was essential for Franco-Vietnamese to maintain positions at Tourane and Hue and also to maintain control of the road running from Quang Tri to Savannakhet in Laos. This latter objective would involve retention of considerable area north of road.
Dong rejoined that it would be possible to find a settlement giving Franco-Vietnamese side Tourane and making some special arrangements (neutralization?) for Hue and the road. Mendes-France refused to consider these ideas and reiterated position that line must be in Dong Hoi area.
Cheysson is struck by fact that Dong made important although insufficient concession a week before probable end of conference and by the further fact that Communists, in making this concession, gave up the strong position they had hitherto adopted regarding the necessity for the Viet Minh to maintain and control the three provinces [Page 1369] south of Faifo which they have ruled uninterruptedly since 1946. Cheysson believes further concessions may be expected from Communists.