851G.01/5–1149: Telegram

The Consul at Hanoi ( Gibson ) to the Secretary of State


36. Interview Xuan1 his request following return Dalat and consultations Bao Dai, he asked US use its influence impress French Government necessity for prompt and decisive action by French Assembly after May 17 query Cochin China territorial assembly resolution and ratification March 8 accords.

Xuan asked what would be US policy in supporting or even nominating Vietnam for membership UN event France does not live up obligation do so under terms accords or stalls. Emperor attaches great importance prompt UN membership even in recognition of what he regards as “possibility” USSR veto.

President extremely concerned developments China and reaction it will have Chinese minorities Vietnam. In this query, as virtually all others, he regards time element highly important in influencing margin Bao Dai’s chances success.

He stated further Emperor would definitely visit Hanoi before leaving Vietnam. Departure planned about one month after French National Assembly takes decisive action two matters enumerated above. Emperor will return France, but Xuan states he plans go Washington thereafter both establish contact and, I ventured, probably ask arms for new Vietnamese army among other things. Xuan readily admitted this.

Xuan reports Emperor does not regard failure publish March 8 accords to date as important—states done purely for internal French [Page 26] political considerations as they are so favorable to Vietnam, not reverse.

Xuan reports Emperor landed Dalat extremely pessimistic frame mind as result of (a) military developments China and Tonkinese border which he felt might cause crisis before he could establish his presence and form government; (b) what he considered French loophole contained territorial assembly’s resolution. Emperor has since readjusted his thinking and discarded concerns with (b) entirely and thinks possibility of (a) temporarily postponed, but danger ever present.

Xuan considers military query primary importance and agrees heartily but privately with urgency of need French reinforcements men and materiel to forestall further Viet Minh successes north and maintain sufficient order make it possible for National elements who wish rally Emperor’s side to do so. Note: I am informed by reliable journalistic source here that long time National Hanoi estimates true “National” deflections [defections] Viet Minh will be limited less than 10 percent.

I questioned President what further consideration was being given to making conciliatory gesture Ho Chi Minh, even perhaps as far as offering him portfolio new cabinet as had been suggested by Xuan during our last discussion Saigon. He made entirely evasive and ambiguous answers to such an extent I am now convinced such eventuality is under active consideration at least by Xuan himself if not with Emperor’s approbation.

On latter point Department may wish issue guiding instruction to us as what tack follow with Xuan and perhaps others this specific query. I think any simple statement to Xuan now or near future to Emperor by Consul General Abbott regarding Ho the Stalinist vs Ho the National would strongly influence direction any such move. Xuan and probably Emperor are lead think more and more, notably most recently by April 25 Newsweek article, US looks almost favorably on Ho and considers him as much National as Communist. Study Viet Minh broadcasts, recent survey which now en route Department, are sufficient in themselves dispel any such naive theory, and it might be useful point out at this time Newsweek and other recent similar articles not only do not necessarily coincide with views US Government but exactly how they differ.

This interview with President more significant and profitable than usual for his sentiments obviously grew out consultations with Emperor in Dalat (he referred constantly to notes). It probably took [Page 27] place as it did at all only because direct contact between Bao Dai and Abbott is not yet feasible. Sent Department 36, repeated Paris.

  1. Gen. Nguyen Van Xuan, former President of Cochinchina, 1947, and of the Central Provisional Government of Vietnam, 1948.