The Pentagon Papers
Gravel Edition
Volume 1
Document 81, Secretary of State Dulles Report to the NSC on His Trip to Paris, 15 July 1954, pp. 558-59


At the NSC meeting of 15 July, Secretary Duties reported on his recent trip to Paris as follows:

1. He had been in practically continuous meetings with Mendes-France and Mr. Eden from the time of his arrival to his departure, sometimes with one or the other individually and sometimes with the two together. He had told Mendes that, in his opinion, most of France's troubles stem from a lack of French decision on EDC. Because of this, the Soviets were being successful in splitting France and Germany. Therefore, he put the greatest urgency on French action on EDC. Mendes said that it might not be possible now to get a constitutional majority of 314 votes in the Assemble without some face-saving formula. He hoped this could be done through minor amendments which would not require renegotiation, but in any event, Mendes had promised Secretary Dulles action by the Assembly by early August. Mr. Duties had pointed out that the U.S. public was getting a trifle short-tempered on the EDC topic and that if Mendes was not careful, the U.S. Congress might terminate aid to NATO which would be detrimental to the military effort of all Europe, especially France.

2. a. Regarding the dilemma of U.S. participation in the Geneva Conference, Secretary Dulles had pointed out that if the U.S. participates in the Conference and then finds itself unable to guarantee the results, a violent French public reaction against the U.S. would ensue. Similarly, if the U.S. participates and so stiffens French will that France does not accept the Communist best offer, then again, the U.S. would be blamed and a major strain placed upon U.S.-French relations. Therefore, the U.S. was seeking to play an inconspicuous role.

b. The original VM proposal had been for a partition line along the 14th parallel; their second proposal, along the 16th parallel. Both had been rejected and the French position was to hold out for the 18th parallel, along with the guaranteed independence of Laos and Cambodia.

c. The Secretary had worked up with the French a joint U.S.-French paper along the lines of the seven points of the U.S.-U.K. paper which had resulted from the Churchill-Eden talks. Mr. Dulies had said there would be no U.S. guarantee of the settlement, but rather a unilateral declaration that the U.S. would not attempt to change it by force. Mendes had provided Mr. Dulles with a letter of reply and acceptance of the U.S.- French position paper. Accordingly, Gen. Smith was returning to Geneva with his instructions contained in these two papers.

3. Mr. Dulles said that the Mendes Government put more emphasis on the granting of independence to the Associated States than had the Laniel Government. Mendes even agreed that French functionaries and eventually armed forces would have to leave the area. It was current French planning to hold Haiphong until French forces and their equipment could be evacuated but not to attempt to maintain Haiphong as a permanent enclave.

4. When asked if the VM would agree to the seven points, the Secretary said he was not sure but he could count on support from Laos and Cambodia. Mr. Allen Dulles felt the possibility of VM uprising against the French was a real one.

5. Mendes had assured Secretary Dulles that if the Geneva Conference was a failure, he would send two additional French divisions to Indochina, although they could not arrive before September, 1954.

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