214. Telegram From the Acting Secretary of State to the Embassy in Vietnam1

5597. Secto 3 from San Francisco repeated Saigon Paris London as Secto 1.2

Following are your instructions regarding British démarche to Diem:
Although U.S. agreed British proposal with omission words “time place level representation”, actual démarche to be made by British only.3
Should Diem inquire our position on démarche, tell him we continue fully support Vietnamese Government in favoring genuinely free elections with adequate safeguards. We believe it beneficial for Government make public pronouncement these lines. Nevertheless we have never wished push Vietnamese participate formal consultations beginning July 20 against their inclinations, but at same time have felt it necessary point out disadvantages negative attitude toward consultations which might be interpreted as rejection Geneva Accords. Pressures from all sides have been increasing rapidly recent weeks almost to point where failure Vietnamese begin consultations would forfeit large measure support of states interested primarily in implementation Geneva Agreements. We considered British proposal as generally in line our view Vietnamese should take stand on genuinely free elections and as method satisfying international pressures while giving Vietnamese time work out own position on methods consultation. We had therefore concurred.

British Embassy says messages received here indicate Stephenson instructions confined British démarche per se, with no mention informing Diem of Indian aide-mémoire. Although unaware Foreign Office thinking, British here believe that, though Diem undoubtedly will eventually learn of Indian proposal, the later he finds out the better, since it bound exacerbate his attitude toward ICC, particularly Indians.

While recognizing truth last phrase, we concerned effect British and our relations with Vietnamese if Diem learns of Indian aide-mémoire from other sources, especially since USSR, Poles, Canadians, French, and probably Viet Minh now also informed. We agree with British that, since they recipients Indian note, they are only logical informants, if decision taken apprise Diem.

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Request Saigon’s comments whether: 1) You should discuss with Stephenson problem informing Diem of Indian note; and 2) Whether Embassy London should approach Foreign Office same lines.

If you discover Diem already aware Indian proposal, this could of course be cited as factor in our decision agree to British démarche.

Following is that portion U.S. position Vietnamese elections which Sebald read British French representatives June 18 meeting:

“Free Vietnamese must have complete and steady backing in whole process electoral consultations to assure them they will be fully supported in taking stand for genuinely free elections.

We should continue urge Free Vietnamese make public declaration in favor genuinely free elections with all adequate safeguards. We should not try compel Vietnamese participate formal consultations beginning July 20, 1955, while pointing out difficulties and risks of completely negative attitude toward whole problem consultations and elections.

Formal direct confrontation delegations North Viet-Nam and South Viet-Nam in Panmunjom style may not be necessary or desirable at least in initial stages. Conference with formal agenda, chairman, regularized deliberations also might not be suitable for discussions in first instance between two such bitter adversaries.”

Saigon’s comments requested.4

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 751G.00/6–2055. Secret; Priority. Drafted by Byrne and cleared by Young and Robertson. Repeated to Paris, London, New Delhi, and Ottawa by pouch.
  2. Supra.
  3. A report on the démarche is in telegram 5947 from Saigon, June 23. (Department of State, Central Files, 751G.00/6–2355)
  4. Those comments, in telegram 5981 from Saigon, June 25, read as follows:

    • “1. We fully concur Department’s reasoning Section 2, reference telegram. We estimate danger Diem learning of Indian note indirectly might lead to unnecessary suspicions and would present greater problem than his possible irritation with Indians. We believe matter should be discussed with British here and London.
    • “2. We also agree with US position set forth Section 3, reference telegram. At present moment it seems unlikely Diem could be persuaded to go any further by July 20 than consultation by means of written communication through co-president. To attempt push him further is to us unrealistic.” (Ibid., 751G.00/6–2555)