The Pentagon Papers
Gravel Edition
Volume 1
Document 83, Telegram from Walter Bedell Smith to Secretary of State Dulles on a Vietnamese Note Concerning French Withdrawal, 17 July 1954, pp. 560-61


FROM: Geneva

TO: Secretary of State

NO: SECTO 633, July 17, 8 p.m.

Nguyen Huu Chau of Vietnamese delegation handed USDEL copy of note which was given to French delegation today. He said French requested contents be kept secret for moment, and that French not aware copy given to this delegation. Following is unofficial translation:

BEGIN QUOTE

Just as the French High Command in Indochina evacuated, without fighting and in spite of the strongest protests by President Ngo Dinh Diem, zones vital for the defense and the existence of a free Vietnam, the delegation of the Vietnamese National Government learned only by the papers and by the messages which were sent to it yesterday, July 16, that the French delegation appears already to have accepted abandoning to the Viet Minh all of that part situated north of the eighteenth parallel and that the delegation of the Viet Minh might claim an even more advantageous demarcation line.

The National Government of Vietnam has also been left in complete ignorance of the proposals on the fate of Vietnam made by the French Government to the American and British Governments, particularly at the meeting in Paris. The delegation of the State of Vietnam must express its surprise at this situation. This delegation finds it hard to understand that peace in Vietnam is being negotiated without previously consulting with its qualified representatives. The de facto partition which seems to have been adopted from the outset by the delegations of France and of the Viet Minh--at discussions bearing only on the materialization of the partition--does not take any account of the unanimous will for national unity of the Vietnamese people.

On the other hand the regroupment of non-national armed forces in the zones resulting from the partition implies their consolidation outside of any danger of combat and thus reinforces the threat that they constitute to the free expression of the will of the people.

Therefore not only does such a cease-fire not lead to a durable peace, since, ignoring the will for national unity, it provokes the people to "unify" the country, but, by the consolidation of the armed forces now facing each other, it violates in advance the liberty of the future elections.

The delegation of the State of Vietnam, which more than any other wishes the return of peace, is pleased with the efforts put forth by the other delegations in favor of this object. However, it greatly fears that the cease-fire, such as it seems to be accepted by certain delegations, far from leading to peace, makes peace improbable and precarious.

Aware of these very grave dangers and certain that it is expressing the profound aspirations of all true Vietnamese, including most of the Viet Minh fighters themselves, and in full accord with the Chief and the Government of the State of Vietnam, the Vietnamese delegation asks not only a cease-fire but the disarmament of all the belligerent forces in Vietnam.

The Vietnamese delegation asks that the entire territory of Vietnam be placed provisionally under the control of the United Nations pending the complete reestablishment of security, of order and of peace in their minds and in their hearts which will permit the Vietnamese people to decide their destiny by free elections.
His Majesty Bao Dai, Chief of State of Vietnam, thus shows once more that he places the independence and the unity of his country above any other consideration, and the National Government of Vietnam would prefer this provisional control by the United Nations over a truly unified and independent Vietnam to its maintenance in power in a country dismembered and condemned to slavery.

The Vietnamese delegation reserves its right to develop its proposal at a later time.

END QUOTE

SMITH


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