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

5267. Follows text of U.S. position paper on elections which given French, British. You should outline orally Diem.

Use text of Department telegram 43622 to Saigon with following changes:

New paragraph one: Same text as paragraph one Department telegram except delete last sentence. Paragraph two: Insert following as new paragraph two: “The United States believes that Free Vietnam [Page 423] and the Viet Minh should be the only principal parties in the negotiations. The United States believes that the International Supervisory Commission should not play a prominent role in the electoral discussions. It is important that the Free Vietnamese Government be in a position to make political capital from strong advocacy of unification through genuinely free elections. It is also important that the Communists clearly bear the onus for any refusal to agree to conditions which would guarantee genuinely free elections or for any obstruction of the preliminary talks. If the International Supervisory Commission is active in the discussions its activity might tend to diffuse the political advantages which Free Vietnam might otherwise gain from the negotiations and at the same time provide the Communists with the means for avoiding full responsibility for any negative attitudes which they may adopt. The United States believes that it would be unwise to entrust any important part of the task of devising the conditions or objectives of elections in Vietnam to a commission composed of members having such conflicting views. The United States would not expect Free Vietnam to be willing to delegate such authority to such a commission.”

New paragraph three same as old paragraph two. New paragraph four same as old paragraph three. New paragraph five insert the following: “If the negotiations proceed past the point of discussion of conditions for free elections to the questions of the mechanics and objectives of an election, the United States believes that Free Vietnam should negotiate for principles which would protect it from fraudulent Communist takeover. The United States believes that these principles should be generally consistent with the principles which the Western Powers are advocating with respect to Germany and Korea. The United States also believes that the Free Vietnamese should take the position that elections should aim at setting up a joint constituent assembly whose sole task would be to draft a constitution for the whole country. The United States believes that pending adoption of the constitution such an assembly should have no governmental powers and that both Communist and Free Vietnam should remain under the administration of the existing governments in each zone.”

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 751G.00/4–655. Secret. Drafted by Hoey on May 18, cleared by Robertson, and approved by Young.
  2. Document 102.