63. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Vietnam 1

1457. Task Force VN. Saigon’s 1752 and 1788, New Delhi’s 2782, Deptel 3404 to New Delhi.2 On May 15, Asst. Secretary McConaughy called in representatives British, French and Canadian Embassies3 to inform them that due DRV violations we have been required expand MAAG by about a hundred, that we did not seek justify this on basis MAAG ceiling, but rather as response DRV infractions Geneva Accords. McConaughy emphasized we not over throwing Geneva Accords, but did not wish our hands tied by following them in all respects while DRV violating them. He emphasized this personnel was for training. (Department intends soon inform Indians of above only.) FYI. There will be considerable further increases in MAAG/VietNam beyond 100 referred to above. End FYI.

On May 19 Ledward, British Embassy, asked Departmental Officer how we planned handle MAAG increase and whether Indians would be informed since problems likely arise. Ledward said Fon Off on being informed above conversation with McConaughy had replied it well understood reasons MAAG increase and had no reservations, but was anxious be informed our next move. Departmental officer replied decision not yet final, but it appeared unlikely we would seek justify any further increases as being within MAAG ceiling (although it could be argued as basis MAAG increase that there were about 1500 trainers in VN at time Geneva Accords). Our tentative view was that due vital threat to GVN posed by DRV directed guerrillas in VietNam, GVN entitled defend itself without being limited by restrictions on bringing in men and materiel set forth Articles 16 and 17 Geneva Accords for VN.

Dept officer continued main reason GVN fighting for its existence today was that these restrictions had consistently been ignored [Page 161] by DRV since Geneva Accords went into effect. However, whatever decision was reached with GVN on Geneva Accords, we would not seek contravene main purpose Geneva Accords which was to prevent one side from violating the cease-fire and attacking the other. GVN was being clearly attacked by DRV through guerrilla methods; GVN certainly did not intend to cross demarcation line and attack DRV. Its aim was to defend itself and preserve its independence. In this we intended support GVN.

Action addressees should also point out that U.S.-GVN decision not be limited by Articles 16 and 17 would be in accord with recognized principle international law that material breach of a treaty obligation by one party relieves the other of full compliance with its obligations until first party resumes observance (II Yearbook International Law Commission 1959, Articles 18 and 20 on law treaties, pp. 45, 66, 66-71). The U.S. specifically intends that this action will be limited to period during which communists continue violate their treaty obligations. The U.S. will return to complete compliance as soon as the communists discontinue their violations.

Addressees should also emphasize that U.S. and GVN consider DRV has continuously breached Article 24 Geneva Accords which states that armed forces each party “shall commit no act and undertake no operation against the other party.” (Copies Geneva Agreement pouched to addressees January 13, 1960.) There is continuing evidence that armed DRV personnel acting under DRV orders have for years traveled from DRV territory into Viet-Nam and carried out hostile acts. The Kontum attack of October, 1960 when several hundred armed persons attacked across the Vietnamese frontier in unit formation is one example.

Finally, should emphasize this decision does not reflect desire upset ICC mechanisms. As set forth Department’s 3404 to New Delhi, we believe that mechanism of ICC should be perfected. The present situation in Viet-Nam results to some extent from the fact that the ICC as set up by the 1954 Agreements has not been able to act effectively. This is why we have urged that the ICC mechanism in Laos be made effective.

For Saigon

Above rationale and procedures outlined below should be discussed promptly with GVN. Following points should be made to GVN:

We are anxious move ahead very soon in cooperation with GVN on lines this message and would welcome early expression GVN views. It is hoped that Ambassador Nolting may be able inform Embassies London, Paris, and Ottawa very soon of GVN concurrence. Embassy New Delhi to make its approach four days [Page 162] thereafter. We think it important to make U.S.-GVN position on MAAG clear to world opinion soonest.
We hope GVN will consider making its own demarche at New Delhi, as well as at Paris, London or Ottawa if it so desires. Most important will be GVN note to ICC. We hope Embassy and GVN will be able coordinate these moves, in advance. Urge GVN use suggested rationale.

FYI. As soon as embassy satisfied re GVN concurrence, it should notify other action addressees.

Department will inform GVN Embassy here four days after transmission this telegram unless contrary advice received. End FYI.

For London, Ottawa, Geneva and Paris

Suggest upon receipt telegram Saigon indicating GVN concurrence this be discussed confidentially along above lines with British, Canadians and French and that they be informed we intend bring up matter in New Delhi four days after receipt this telegram.

For New Delhi only

Unless addressee posts perceive strong objections, GOI should be informed of above four working days after receipt telegram from Saigon indicating GVN concurrences.4

The Department of State on June 1 instructed Nolting to tell Diem not to send a note to the Control Commission, but await further views on the timing of an approach to India. (Telegram 1484; ibid.. 751K.5-MSP/5-3161)

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 751G.00/5-2261. Secret; Priority. Drafted by Wood; cleared with McConaughy, Admiral Heinz, Johnson (G), L,NEA, EUR, IO, and S/S; and signed by Secretary Rusk. Also sent to London, Ottawa, Paris, and New Delhi and repeated to CINCPAC for PolAd, Vientiane, Phnom Penh, Bangkok, and Geneva.
  2. Regarding telegram 1752, see footnote 4, Document 62. Telegram 1788, May 24, restated the need to consult with members of the Control Commission. (Department of State, Central Files, 751G.00/5-2461) Telegrams 2782 and 3404, May 22 and 24, discussed various aspects of making an approach to Nehru on this problem. (Ibid., 751G.00/5-2161 and 5-2261)
  3. Memoranda of McConaughy’s conversations with the British and French are ibid., 751G.00/5-1561.
  4. The Vietnamese agreed to follow the proposal outlined in this telegram on May 29. (Telegram 1813 from Saigon; ibid., 751K.00/5-2961)