289. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Vietnam1

349. After receipt Embtel 3262 Cottrell called on Thuan and made following points:

He was sure that Thuan must have received clear impression in his talks in Washington that USG officials were solidly in support of Viet-Nam and our commitments to GVN. Thuan confirmed this.
It is a fact that USG is just as firmly determined to have commitments to Laos fulfilled.
This is why GVN statement it obliged revise its whole diplomatic position and international commitments to Laos is received here as a shock. It means that a western power is threatening to pull the support props out from under the international structure so painfully erected. It is imperative that western powers fulfill their obligations to the letter and that any breakdown in Laos not be caused by western powers.
While understanding GVN frustration and anger over an RLG action which touches a sensitive fundamental GVN national issue at the same time we understand GVN has a commitment not only to Laos but to 12 other signatories including the USG.
The British have undertaken to see that the accords are observed by the western powers and the Russians have assumed a similar responsibility for the Bloc. Therefore the GVN contemplated action would constitute a blow against the British as well as to the other western signatories.
Cottrell reviewed the possible subsidiary effects outlined Deptel 3483 but emphasized that the central point was that GVN action to carry out revision of its commitments to Laos would produce a head on collision with a firm determined US policy on Laos.
Cottrell requested Thuan convey above to his government. Thuan agreed. Said he himself did not understand last para Embtel 326 and had no firm ideas how to solve this impasse but would transmit immediately US views expressed above.4

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 651J.51K/9-2062. Secret; Priority. Drafted by Cottrell and cleared in substance with Harriman. Repeated to Bangkok, Phnom Penh, Vientiane, London, and Paris.
  2. Telegram 326, September 20, transmitted the text of a statement issued by the Government of Vietnam on that day deploring the Laotian Governmentʼs decision to exchange ambassadors with North Vietnam. The last paragraph stated that because of this the Government of Vietnam was “obliged to revise its whole diplomatic position and all its international commitments regarding Laos.” (Ibid.)
  3. Dated September 20. These effects dealt largely with Communist and Soviet undertakings to support the Laotian settlement which might cease if Saigon appeared to have broken the agreements. (Ibid.)
  4. Nolting saw Foreign Minister Mau on September 21 and 22 to reiterate Washingtonʼs concern about Diem breaking relations with Laos. At the latter meeting Mau agreed to try to convince Diem that if the Laotian Government did not accept the credentials of the North Vietnamese Ambassador, the Republic of Vietnam would leave its mission in Vientiane. (Telegrams 336 and 338 from Saigon, September 22; ibid., 751J.51K/9-2262)