47. Telegram From the Delegation to the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization Council Meeting to the Department of State1

Secto 17. For the President and Acting Secretary. We are still punching a feather bed in trying to find out what French really have in mind about South Vietnam. It seems quite clear that Couve does not intend to present any plan or detailed suggestions about neutralization. He apparently believes, as we have known before, that present course in Vietnam cannot succeed and that real choice lies between larger war (which, contrary to Alphand interpretation, he does not seem to recommend or view hopefully) or some sort of political solution. The missing piece is of course full French effort to give present line best chance of success as better alternative to grim choices which failure would pose.

We cannot yet be sure on basis of first dayʼs discussion whether we shall have a confrontation over handling of South Vietnam in communiqué. My present impression is that French may not push in such a way as to underscore still further their isolation within SEATO. There is no disposition among others, however, to let France set the tone. Will keep you informed.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 27 VIET S. Secret; Nodis.