The Pentagon Papers
Gravel Edition
Volume 1
Document 72, Telegram from Ambassador Dillon to Secretary of State Dulles on the French Position in the Negotiations, 6 July 1954, pp. 545-46.

FROM: Paris
TO: Secretary of State

NO: 66, July 6, 11 p.m.


After finishing discussion of Kerr article, Mendes said that the second major thing which he wished to discuss with me was the question of the resumption of the Geneva talks at the Ministerial level. He said that it was now clear that the Ministers would have to make the decisions as the technical committees had been unsuccessful. Therefore, and in view of his July 20 deadline, he personally hoped that Ministerial discussions could commence as soon as possible.

In this connection he mentioned a report that Molotov might return to Geneva on July 8. He said that Chauvel had tried to confirm this with the Russians at Geneva but they replied that they were without information. Mendes said he very much did not (repeat not) want to be in a position of talking at Geneva with only Molotov and Chou En-lai. Therefore, he would like very much to find out what US intentions and plans were as to when the Secretary or Under Secretary would return to Geneva. He said that Massigli was making similar inquiries of Eden on his arrival today.

I said that I was unfamiliar as to US plans and asked Mendes what his understanding was as to when the conference would resume. He replied that it was his definite understanding that all five Foreign Ministers had agreed to return to Geneva not (repeat not) later than July 12, to recommence their discussions. Referring to US, he indicated that he expected that either the Secretary or the Under Secretary would return at that time. I told him that I was not informed but that I would inquire and let him know as soon as possible.

Mendes then informed me that he will announce tomorrow to the National Assembly that if a cease-fire is not (repeat not) agreed to prior to July 21, it will be necessary for the Assembly to approve the sending of conscripts to Indochina and that the last act of his government before resigning will be to introduce a law to authorize the sending of conscripts to Indochina. This law would be introduced on July 21, and the Assembly would be required to vote on it the same day as they will have had two weeks from the date of his announcement to consider the matter. He said that his government would definitely not (repeat not) resign until such a law had been passed. Mendes also said that the shipping to move the first group of conscripts to Indochina would be ready on July 25, so that his schedule for parliamentary action would cause no (repeat no) delay in the movement of troops.

I then mentioned DEPTEL 39, and Mendes said that he recognized that this posed a real problem. He said that Ely had been instructed to keep Diem as fully informed as possible and that he had stressed the matter again in a telegram to Ely. Mendes said, however, that no (repeat no) matter what occurs or what action is taken, he expects there would be difficulties with Diem, and he said that he wanted again to ask for our assistance at that time. He said he realized that the US would probably be unable to underwrite any settlement which might come out of Geneva. He said he also realized that it would not (repeat not) be easy for us to tell Diem, to accept everything. Mendes said he did not (repeat not) want to ask us to do anything we could not (repeat not) do, but that he hoped we could by unofficial means discourage Diem from being too stubborn and difficult if a solution along general lines of US-UK formula had been reached.


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