The Pentagon Papers
Document 70, Telegram from Secretary of State Dulles to Ambassador Dillon on the French Position in the Negotiations, 4 July 1954, pp. 542-43.
1954 Jul 3
SENT TO: Amembassy PARIS 52
PRIORITY EYES ONLY FOR AMBASSADOR FROM SECRETARY
We are considering here what position we should take as regards the French negotiations in Indochina. These negotiations appear to have gone underground and we have little reliable knowledge of what is really in the minds of the French Government or what is likely to emerge. We have ourselves agreed with the British on the 7 points previously communicated to you. However, we have the distinct impression that the British look upon this merely as an optimum solution and that they would not encourage the French to hold out for a solution as good as this. Indeed, during the talks here the British wanted to express these 7 points merely as a "hope" without any indication of firmness on our part. The word "respect" was agreed on as a compromise. The fact is however that the US would not want to be associated in any way with a settlement which fell materially short of the 7 point memorandum.
We fear the French may in fact without prior consultation with us of more than perfunctory character agree to a settlement which though superficially resembling the 7 points will in fact contain such political clauses and restrictions that Laos, Cambodia, and Southern Vietnam will almost surely fall in a few months under Communist control. No doubt such a solution would be accepted with satisfaction by the French people and parliament who would rejoice in the ending of the fighting and close their eyes to the possible future implications of the settlement. At this point the US may be asked as one of the powers which convoked and participated in the Indochina phase of the Geneva Conference to sign or otherwise adhere to the settlement. Also the Communists may insist upon this and take the position that if we did not do so that would be a violation of the understanding upon which the armistice was negotiated and they might even threaten to withdraw their armistice terms if the US did not adhere to them. This Communist tactic would well serve their purpose of creating animosity between France and the US at a time when the defeat of EDC is a major Soviet objective.
We are giving consideration to various possibilities such as the withdrawal of the remnants of our delegation from Geneva or clarification of our position as regards the French position. This latter matter would not (rpt not) serve the desired purpose unless it were public and if it were public it might be looked upon as a threat which would create the French antagonistic reaction which we want to avoid.
Possibly you could find out whether or not there is the danger which we apprehend and whether or not the French are negotiating on the assumption that we may not be a party to the settlement. If the French are operating on this basis and if they know that the Communists also accept this premise, the situation is not dangerous. If either or both French and Communists are operating on assumption we will adhere to any settlement they agree to, then we may be headed for serious trouble. I would like your personal thoughts on this matter.
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