217. Telegram From the Ambassador in Vietnam (Reinhardt) to the Department of State1

6040. 1. Foreign Minister Vu Van Mau informed me this morning that Cabinet had decided on its position with respect to Geneva type elections and consultations called for in Geneva Agreement. It had been decided that Prime Minister would make public declaration containing following elements:

Government stood for unification of Vietnam.
This to be achieved by democratic process of elections.
Elections must be free and protected by all necessary safeguards.
This position was not of Geneva Agreement which Government did not recognize but was an expression of Government’s earnest desire for unification of country through democratic process.

2. Cabinet was considering a possible supplemental point to effect that Government of State of Vietnam was sole legal Government in country and was preparing election to National Assembly which, when convened, would welcome proposals from all Vietnamese [Page 471] political parties designed to effect, in democratic fashion, the unification of the country. I think I convinced Mau that this variant might best be saved for possible later use.

3. As to timing of Prime Minister’s declaration, Mau said former had intended to make it some time after July 20. He agreed with my comment that an earlier date would have many advantages and said he thought it might be possible to convince Prime Minister to take the step within a week or 10 days.

4. Foreign Minister said he expected to reply to British démarche within a day or two conveying information regarding proposed public declaration on elections and politely refusing British offer to serve as postman for communication to Viet Minh. He confirmed that Cabinet decision precluded Government taking any initiative with respect to consultations, adding that if other side wished to use Moscow–London circuit, that was their business, but that his Government wished to avoid implications which would flow from accepting good offices of co-chairman Geneva conference. Furthermore, it was impossible, for internal political reasons, for Government to take any initiative with respect consultations. (Request substance this paragraph not be conveyed to British since VN position may change before their note is drafted and delivered.)

5. Foreign Minister then handed me brief biography Sarah Wambaugh, saying it would be extremely useful if such a specialist in international elections could be attached to Embassy to back-stop Foreign Office. He added that personality suggested was simply chosen as an example of the kind of expert required. He agreed that, if a suitable expert of other than American nationality could be found, it would be preferable. I assured Foreign Minister I would pass his request to Department and told him of Kattenburg’s arrival and that for next few weeks his services would be available.

6. From foregoing, I conclude that present intention Diem Government is to make policy declaration along lines indicated, take no further step with respect to consultations and await developments. Renewed request for services of expert would seem, however, very clear indication that they do not preclude an eventual involvement in some kind of negotiations with Viet Minh on subject of elections whether by conference or remote control.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 751G.00/6–2955. Secret. Repeated for information to Paris, London, Ottawa, New Delhi, Phnom Penh, and Vientiane.