The Pentagon Papers
Document 37, Telegram from Secretary of State Dulles on Conversation with Eden and Bidault about Indochina, 26 April 1954, p 478-79
TO: Secretary of State
NO: DULTE 9, April 26, 9 p.m.
SENT DEPARTMENT DULTE 9; REPEATED INFORMATION LONDON 73, PARIS 122.
DEPARTMENT EYES ONLY ACTING SECRETARY FROM SECRETARY
PARIS AND LONDON EYES ONLY AMBASSADOR
I met for about an hour this afternoon with Eden and Bidault at latter's villa.
Meeting was called at latter's request with no (repeat no) indication its purpose.
After some discussion procedural problems Indochina conference (reported separately) discussion turned to Bao Dai's declaration in Paris and current attitude. Bidault told us that he understands Bao Dai named as his personal representative and observer a former member Ho Chi Minh's cabinet but that Bidault has not (repeat not) been able to confirm observer's arrival at his station in Evian.
Bidault then launched into rather confused discussion of problem his government faces with regard to establishing position for Indochina negotiation which he said was extremely difficult during progress of Dien Bien Phu battle. He touched lightly on whole range of possibilities including collective defense, cease-fire and partition. He mentioned further deterioration in political situation in Associated States.
Eden picked up the question of cease-fire and encouraged further discussion by Bidault this subject with cryptic remark that a month ago British had felt cease-fire due to general infiltration was dangerous but that now without having any clear view they were not (repeat not) so sure. I pointed out that cease-fire at Dien Bien Phu locally would be in fact surrender and that cease-fire generally would involve serious risk of native peoples' rising with resultant massacre of French. Side conversations later made it clear French believe with support of their military authorities in Indochina that general cease-fire lacking any control or safeguards would make it impossible for French Union forces to resume fighting once cease-fire established. Bidault said that the French Government had queried French High Command in Indochina and had received a reply that there would either have to be a final cease-fire or further reeinforcements would have to be sent to Indochina during the conference.
As indicative of Bidault's continuing courage, he said that when he saw Molotov tomorrow he intended to stand on Laniel's statement of March 5 and attempt to draw Molotov out without ceding ground himself and without getting involved in detailed discussions of substance on an Indochina settlement.
In my judgment, Eden has arrived with instructions actively to encourage French into almost any settlement which will result in cessation hostilities in Indochina. My guess is that behind this lies British fear that if fighting continues, we will in one way or another become involved, thereby enhancing risk Chinese intervention and possibility further expansion of war. This estimate of mine is confirmed by fact that Chauvel told MacArthur the French believe Eden's instructions are to press actively for a cease-fire.
I made clear to Bidault privately that we would have no (repeat no) part in settlement at Geneva of Indochina war which constituted surrender of Indochina to Communists, and that France has better chance by fighting on rather than by attempted withdrawal which would be under most difficult conditions. I intend to see Eden alone tomorrow morning to talk with extreme bluntness to him expressing my dismay that British are apparently encouraging French in direction surrender which is in conflict not (repeat not) only with our interest but what I conceive theirs to be.
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