5. Telegram From the Ambassador in France (Dillon) to the Department of State 1

2795. Re Section II Embtel 2762,2 believe it useful recall for record Soutou’s3 statement to me during Secretary’s past visit to effect he, Soutou, thought “left-wing” govt needed in South Vietnam. Soutou predicated this conclusion on premise that if we wished avoid general elections 1956 then it necessary to develop strength in South Vietnam and this only possible by having “left wing” Vietnamese govt prepared embark on imaginative and bold reform programs etc. Soutou’s statement compares with Clarac’s4 statement to us to effect that Fr Govt prefers see emergence “more moderate” Vietnamese govt in South and one less openly anti-Vietminh (para 4 Embtel 27615).

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We inclined think that a “left-wing” Vietnamese govt such as that envisaged by Soutou, which presumably would be headed by personality such as Buu Hoi, would most likely move parallel with rather than counter to Vietminh govt. Such a development in our view likely to lead some form rapprochement between North and South Vietnam prior holding July 1956 elections, thus making question latter largely academic.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 751G.00/1–355. Secret. Repeated for information to Saigon.
  2. Dated December 30, 1954; for text, see Foreign Relations, 1952–1954, vol. xiii Part 2, p. 2437.
  3. Jean-Marine Soutou, Deputy Cabinet Director under Mendès-France.
  4. Cabinet Director for Guy La Chambre, Minister for the Associated States.
  5. Paragraph 4 of this telegram, dated December 30, 1954, reads as follows:

    “Clarac then proceeded to say that while they under no illusions concerning longer term possibilities of doing business with Vietminh, they thought Sainteny effort worthwhile if only to gain time in terms one to two years in which shore up Cambodia and Laos. Clarac admitted, however, that Sainteny approach in North in conflict with present manifest anti-Commie line taken by Diem govt in South and the position taken by Diem on this score made Sainteny’s job in North that much more difficult. We said, however, that if firm anti-Commie position to be taken in South, it would appear to be evident that one could hardly lend support or encouragement at same time to Sainteny line in North. Clarac said he recognized this fundamental conflict and said this in part why French prefer see emergence ‘more moderate’ Vietnamese Govt in South and one less openly anti-Vietminh. He added that if stronger govt could be formed in South, it could be expected exert moderating influence on Vietminh as well as on outcome elections. We said it because we concerned over possible emergence Vietnamese Govt in South likely move parallel to rather than against, Sainteny line in North that we found it difficult to accept fully French insistence Diem be replaced. We said we aware conflict between policy symbolized by Diem and that by Sainteny, however, to adopt an approach that would tend to lessen this conflict seemed, for the present at least, to run counter Free World’s desire maintain Free Vietnam and would appear involve basic US appraisal [reappraisal] its approach Vietnam. Clarac’s only comment this score was to state that it better maneuver for time in Vietnam and try at all costs not to drive Vietminh into arms Chinese Commies and Soviets, and to use time thus gained to build up strength Laos and Cambodia.” (Department of State, Central Files, 451.51G31/12–3050)