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

1901. 1. Recent Paris London Saigon telegrams indicate while possibility French-Vietnamese accord disposition FEC and question successor FHC remains, we cannot be sanguine parties will reach accord speedily if at all. Mau statements to Dillon (Paris 2510 repeated Saigon 133, London 1492) presumably endorsed by Luyen, raise serious doubts Vietnamese would agree to minimum course suggested in Saigon’s 2206 repeated Paris 406, London 192.3 We also note from available account Mau visit to London (London 2217 repeated Saigon 63, Paris 2764) British apparently did not themselves take position [Page 595] with Vietnamese that they should undertake functions now being exercised by French High Command (London 1999 repeated Saigon 54, Paris 253 and Department’s 1769 to Saigon repeated Paris 2013, London 28555).

2. Under circumstances, and unless amplification we await from British here on Mau talks in London indicates British did raise matter, we will tell British we feel their suggestion US intervene with Diem has been overtaken by their own failure raise issue.

3. FYI. Our present thinking is that while we should certainly take no positive steps speed-up present process decay Geneva Accords neither should we make slightest effort infuse further life into them. MauLuyen view that military responsibilities under Armistice Agreement now carried out appears have considerable merit, at least so far as principal military provisions concerned. Since 14d6 now dead letter, only 14c7 and prohibitions personnel and arms imports and bases remain really important active provisions. In every case these violated by North and cause of serious present and potential difficulty for South. Result of failure two sides agree on question succession might well provide excuse for Indian-Polish recommendation withdrawal of ICC from Viet-Nam. However in our view situation in Viet-Nam fundamentally altered since Geneva and present deterrent on Communists lies less in thin mechanism Commission maintains on ground in Viet-Nam than in policies governments principally concerned on Free World side. Moreover, at this time ICC highly troublesome to Free Viet-Nam in intermeddling consultations problem, issuing critical 4th Interim Report, present attempt control US military personnel.

4. Request views Saigon Paris on evaluation contained paragraph 3.8

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 751G.00/11–2355. Secret. Drafted by Kattenburg and cleared with Young and Sebald (in substance). Sent also to Paris as 2154 and to London as 3097; repeated for information to Ottawa, New Delhi, Vientiane, and Phnom Penh.
  2. According to this telegram, November 23, Mau’s statements included an indication that South Vietnam would not view the “early fold-up and departure ICC” as “unfavorable.” (ibid.)
  3. According to this telegram, November 23, that minimum course was to maintain the present situation of the ICC until a suitable time for its departure—possibly July 1956—when termination could be logically explained as completion of the primary mission of supervising the ceasefire. (ibid.)
  4. In this telegram, November 29, the Embassy in London reported that Mau’s visit was uneventful; neither the British nor Vietnamese Foreign Ministers wished to discuss controversial differences. Macmillan stressed the necessity for placating the ICC and Mau agreed that the Commission performed a useful function and should continue for as long as possible. (Ibid., 033.51G.41/11–2955)
  5. Dated November 15 and 21, neither printed. (Ibid., 751G.00/11–1555 and 751G.00/11–1855)
  6. Article 14d of the Agreement on the Cessation of Hostilities in Vietnam (July 20, 1954) allowed for free movement of civilians to and from either zone until the time limit of 300 days for movement and regrouping of troops (Article 2) was completed.
  7. Article 14c enjoined each party to refrain from any reprisals or discrimination against persons or organizations on account of their activities during the hostilities and to guarantee such persons democratic liberties. For the complete text of the Agreement on Cessation of Hostilities, see Foreign Relations, 1952–1954, vol. xvi, p. 1505.
  8. In telegram 2692 from Saigon, December 5, the Embassy fully concurred with the view that “Geneva Accords should be allowed die natural death” and said it believed that the French were “inclined share this view.” (Department of State, Central Files, 751G.00/12-555)