307. Memorandum of a Conversation, Department of State, Washington, February 28, 19561


  • French Views on “TERM


  • The Secretary
  • Couve de Murville, French Ambassador
  • Pierre Millet, French Minister
  • William TylerWE
  • Kenneth T. YoungPSA

The French Ambassador called on the Secretary this afternoon to hand him the attached French reply2 to the U.S. Aide-Mémoire of February 253 on the same subject.

The Ambassador informed the Secretary that the French Foreign Minister would like to talk this subject over with the Secretary in Karachi. The Ambassador explained that the American request for additional military personnel would be very difficult for France to accept because in the French view it would mean a violation by the United States of the Geneva Accord and French acquiescence thereto if France agreed to this temporary military mission. The Ambassador also pointed out that the whole question of Viet-Nam is now an acute problem for France because of the Vietnamese demand for the withdrawal of French forces. France must adhere to this demand in the light of its commitments in Geneva in 1954. If the French forces are to be withdrawn from Viet-Nam it also means dissolution of the French High Command. The Ambassador said that France would not retain any responsibilities under the High Command if French forces are withdrawn. The Ambassador pointed out that the fundamental question is who will have responsibility under the Armistice in carrying out the Agreement? France does not desire this responsibility after the French High Command is dissolved. However, it might be possible for France to retain some responsibilities in Viet-Nam if that would not imply arty large commitment under the Armistice.

The Secretary stated that the United States could not leave such a huge amount of equipment in such unprotected condition in Viet-Nam.

The Secretary also stated that the United States does not believe that a temporary group of technical personnel would violate the [Page 649] Cease-Fire Accord. He informed the Ambassador that he would obtain the views of the Defense Department on the French note so that he would be in a position to discuss this with Foreign Minister Pineau in Karachi.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 751G.5/2–2856. Confidential. Drafted by Young.
  2. The French aide-mémoire, February 28, is attached to the source text in both original French and Department of State translation. It is summarized in this memorandum of conversation and is therefore not printed.
  3. The text of this note is contained in Document 305.