98. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in France1

4818. For Ambassador.

The President has reviewed your 44862 and agrees with you that you should wait a day or so to assess French reaction before [Page 196]seeking interview with De Gaulle. He nevertheless believes that you should seek this interview without fail within the ’next week, adjusting your presentation to the situation as it then appears, and making the strongest possible argument to the General for a public clarification of the position of France.
The President does not wish any formal message from himself to be presented at this time, in the light of Khanh’s threatening démarche. Instead you should draw on the draft message in our 47933 as appropriate, making clear that these are Presidential views as well as those of the USG in general. You should present these views as an expansion upon the brief remarks which the President made informally to Alphand.
We do not fully share your argument that General should go uninformed of what his Foreign Minister and others are saying officially to us, and believe it should be helpful to say that the policy of France as stated to us in diplomatic channels has only to be clarified publicly in order to become much more helpful to the common cause on the scene.
President’s short meeting with Alphand took place on request of latter before Defferre meeting.4 On South East Asia, exchange was very brief. President said that as he understood it, France did not wish American forces pulled out and did not believe in this kind of neutralism which would lead to takeover of south by Communists. If this were indeed French position, President said, it would be helpful to have it publicly clarified. Alphand said he would report this view and contrive to indicate some personal sympathy with it without actually committing himself.
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 27 VIET S. Secret; Immediate; Exdis. Drafted in the White House, cleared by William Bundy and Rusk, and approved by Sullivan. Repeated to Saigon.
  2. Document 97.
  3. Document 96.
  4. See footnote 5, Document 97. No record of the Alphand-Johnson meeting has been found.