189. Memorandum of a Conversation1


  • Franco-American Relations and Europe


  • US
    • The President
    • Mr. Ball
    • Ambassador Bohlen
    • Mr. Tyler
  • France
    • Mr. Couve de Murville
    • Ambassador Alphand
    • Mr. Lucet

[Here follows discussion of matter unrelated to Vietnam.]

He [the President] said he thought that we were quite close on Laos, but General De Gaulle’s statement on Vietnam had been unhelpful, particularly with regard to its timing. The Foreign Minister said that it had not been General De Gaulle’s intention to do anything unhelpful. France had been in a position at the time when she had to say something. France had never had very good relations with the Diem Government. There was a French interest in developing economic and cultural, rather than political, relations. He felt that in the long run, evolution seemed to lead in the direction of the unification and neutrality of Vietnam. He said that he was aware that the statement had been badly received in Washington, but it had been no better received in Moscow or Peiping. Mr. Ball repeated that the timing had been unfortunate. The Foreign Minister said he did not know what the real situation was in Vietnam. The President said he thought it was being made to appear worse than it is. The Foreign Minister said France had been in Indochina during a period of some ninety years and her experience had always been that any problems must be discussed with the Chinese. He thought that this held true today also. He said the Russians were out of Vietnam and Southeast Asia in general [Page 390] and that they have almost no influence there. He said they were in roughly the same position as the UK: both were getting less and less influential, whereas the Chinese influence was increasing.

[Here follows discussion of matters unrelated to Vietnam.]

  1. Source: Department of State, President’s Memoranda of Conversations: Lot 66 D 149. Secret. Drafted by Tyler and approved by Bundy and Ball. The meeting was held at the White House.