The Pentagon Papers
Gravel Edition
Volume 1
Document 80, Telegram from Ambassador Dillon to Secretary of State Dulles containing Texts of US-French-British Letters on Indochina, 14 July 1954, pp. 554-57

FROM: Paris

TO: Secretary of State

NO: 179, July 14, 9 p.m. PRIORITY

Paris Talks-III

In addition to the following agreed texts of Paris meeting, the Secretary's party will bring full memoranda of conversations: (The following documents are classified and not (repeat not) for release.)

A. Agreed French-United States position paper on Indochina.

1. France and the Associated States of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia are recognized to be those which, on the non-Communist side, are primarily interested in the Indochina phase of the Geneva Conference.

The United States is interested primarily as a friendly nation which desires to assist, where desired, in arriving at a just settlement, but who will not (repeat not) seek, or be expected, to impose its views in any way upon those primarily interested.

2. The attached 7 points constitute a result which France believes to be obtainable by negotiation at Geneva and which would be acceptable to France and, France believes, to the Associated States. The United States, while recognizing the right of those primarily interested to accept different terms, will itself be prepared to respect terms conforming to the attached. The United States will not (repeat not) be asked or expected by France to respect terms which in its opinion differ materially from the attached, and it may publicly disassociate itself from such differing terms.

3. If the settlement is one which the United States is prepared to "respect" its position will be expressed unilaterally or in association only with non-Communist states in terms which apply to the situation the principles of non-use of forces which are embodied in Article 2 (4) and (6) of the Charter of the United Nations.

4. The United States is prepared to seek, with other interested nations, a collective defense association designed to preserve, against direct and indirect aggression, the integrity of the non-Communist areas of Southeast Asia following any settlement.

5. If there is no (repeat no) settlement, the United States and French Governments will consult together on the measures to be taken. This will not (repeat not) preclude the United States, if it so desires, bringing the matter before the United Nations as involving a threat to peace as dealt with by Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations.

6. France reaffirms the principle of independence for the Associated States in equal and voluntary association as members of the French Union.


B. Annex to above document consisting of the 7 points regarding a settlement which could be respected as agreed during Churchill-Eisenhower conversations. (Please note following phrase which has been added with the full consent of Eden and Mendes-France at the beginning of paragraph 2 of the 7 points.)

"In connection with the line of military demarcation, preserves--"

"Memorandum of points referred to in paragraph 2 of the France-United States position paper.

An agreement which:

"1. Preserves the integrity and independence of Laos and Cambodia and assures the withdrawal of Viet Minh forces therefrom;
"2. In connection with the line of military demarcation preserves at least the southern half of Vietnam and if possible an enclave in the deltas; in this connection, we would be unwilling to see the line of division of responsibility drawn further south than a line running generally west from Dong Hoi;
"3. Does not (repeat not) impose on Laos, Cambodia or retained Vietnam any restrictions materially impairing their capacity to maintain stable non-Communist regimes; and especially restrictions impairing their right to maintain adequate forces for internal security, to import arms and to employ foreign advisers;
"4. Does not (repeat not) contain political provisions which would risk loss of the retained area to Communist control;
"5. Does not (repeat not) exclude the possibility of the ultimate unification of the Vietnam by peaceful means;
"6. Provides for the peaceful and humane transfer, under international supervision, of those people desiring to be moved from one zone to another of Vietnam; and
"7. Provides effective machinery for international supervision of the agreement."

C. Letter from Mendes-France to Secretary (unofficial translation of French text).


Dear Mr. Secretary:

Following our frank and friendly conversation of last evening, I believe I understand fully the position of the United States with regard to the negotiations at Geneva concerning Indochina.

If I interpret your views correctly, you recognize fully the primary right of France, the Associated States of Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia, to decide the conditions for the settlement of a war in which they are the only belligerents on the non-Communist side. You wish to aid us through your good offices in obtaining a just and honorable settlement which will take into account the needs of the interested peoples. However, you are not (repeat not) prepared to participate with the Communist countries in any settlement which might appear to retain for them the benefits of aggression or the domination of non-willing peoples. In any case, if a settlement should be arrived at between the parties holding the primary responsibility, you would agree to indicate that you would comply with the principles which are contained in Articles 2 (4) and (6) of the United Nations Charter and you would consider any violation of the settlement by the Communist regimes as being of grave concern.

It being your belief that the continuation of the war would involve a serious risk of an extension of the conflict, both as concerns the combat areas and the belligerent countries, the question of the participation of the United States would be guided by the terms defined in the fourth paragraph of the letter addressed on July 16, 1954, by President Eisenhower to President Coty.

You have indicated to me that you would fear, in the present state of negotiations, that the sending by the United States to Geneva of representatives chosen at a high level and bearing instructions from President Eisenhower to adhere to the principles noted above, could cause a situation capable of giving rise in France, under the most regrettable circumstances, to a feeling that our two countries are divided and that it might risk affecting seriously their good relations which are so important to the whole free world.

I have noted your hesitation to come to Geneva in the fear of having eventually to disassociate yourself from an agreement, or certain of its terms, which you might not (repeat not) be able to respect. This appears to me to be understandable, but in my opinion it does not (repeat not) respond to the situation. In effect, I have every reason to think that your absence would be precisely interpreted as demonstrating, before the fact, that you disapproved of the conference and of everything which might be accomplished. Not (repeat not) only would those who are against us find therein the confirmation of the ill will which they attribute to your government, concerning the re-establishment of peace in Indochina; but many others would read in it a sure sign of a division of the western powers. Finally, the negotiations would thus be deprived of the element of balance indispensable to the seeking of a solution as recommended in the memorandum of June 30.

I consider thus that such an absence would produce an effect diametrically opposed to the intentions which you have expressed and which I have cited above. In a situation as difficult as this only the unity of the western democratic front, supported by the immense potential which we have in common, can bring about the very military and strategic unity which we should seek eventually to establish in that part of the world.

It is in this spirit that the French Government envisages, aside from the assurances which the conference itself could furnish, the establishment of a collective guarantee by virtue of which the signatories would declare themselves prepared to intervene if, in Indochina, one of the three states was a victim of aggression. I am fully conscious of the position of the government of the United States and I have noted with care the consequences which it might imply; but for the reasons which I have just enumerated, I have the profound conviction that the common interests of our two countries and of the three Associated States would be effectively defended only if you, yourself, or the Undersecretary should represent in person your government at Geneva.

If the situation should nevertheless evolve in a manner which would confirm your fears, I engage myself, on behalf of France, to make known publicly the conditions under which you have acceded to my request.


D. Letter from Secretary to Mendes-France.


My dear Mr. President:

I have received your letter of July 14 with reference to participation by the United States in the final stages of the Indochina phase of the Geneva conference.

In the light of what you say and after consultation with President Eisenhower, I am glad to be able to inform you that the President and I are asking the Undersecretary of State, General Walter Bedell Smith, to prepare to return at his earliest convenience to Geneva to share in the work of the conference on the basis of the understanding which we have arrived at.

I greatly appreciate the opportunity which we have had to confer together and I believe that it has added a new chapter to the honorable and precious tradition of Franco-American cooperation.


E. Letter to Mendes-France from Eden.


My Dear Mr. President:

Thank you for providing me with copies of correspondence exchanged today between yourself and Mr. John Foster Dulles on the present phase of the Indochina conference at Geneva.

I have noted their contents and wish to assure you that, as a friend and ally, I shall do my best to help you to achieve a settlement on the basis set out in this correspondence.

I am sending a copy of this letter to Mr. Dulles.



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