11. Telegram From the Secretary of State to the Embassy in Vietnam1

2766. Paris 2870 repeated Saigon 443.2 French Embassy Washington gave us text version proposed memorandum this afternoon. Identical with reference telegram except in paragraph 3 French text said “this date will be set be Generals Ely and Collins” instead of “January first” contained reference telegram.

Copies have been given Defense and their early views requested. We hope Paris Saigon will comment soonest. We made no comment to French at time transmittal.

In addition French handed us note outlining basis for their suggested changes. Text follows in free translation:

“Text of French project of joint recommendation by American and French Governments relating to training of autonomous Vietnamese armed forces which was drawn up on basis work of Generals Ely and Collins essentially takes note of following points:

“(1) Sovereignty of Viet-Nam gives it right to determine conditions or training and structure of its army. Therefore it can only be question of recommendation which will be addressed to it by representatives U.S. and France.

“(2) French High Command responsible for execution accord on cessation hostilities in Viet-Nam cannot accept any measure which does not conform this accord. This consideration must govern execution of recommendation and in particular application paragraph four. In this regard certain important points must be emphasized:

“(a) Number American military personnel present Indo-china at moment cease-fire was 350; this number cannot therefore be augmented.

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“(b) So far as concerns replacement of those elements MAAG which not qualified as advisors and instructors (administrative and supply personnel), it is essential that change-over be carried out in gradual and discreet manner. This replacement poses problem from point of view Geneva Accord and it is necessary that each change may be presented in manner acceptable to ICC and not appear as arrival new personnel. Size and rhythm of these numbers must be object of constant consultation between American and French services on spot.

“(3) Risks involved in measures liable to bring about break in armistice would obviously be much more serious than inconvenience of partial or delayed execution of joint recommendation to Vietnamese Government.”

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 751G.5/1–755. Top Secret; Niact. Drafted by Hoey and cleared for transmission by Young. Repeated to Paris.
  2. Supra.