Memorandum of Conversation, by Mr. Charlton Ogburn, Jr., of the Division of Southeast Asian Affairs

top secret
Participants: Mr. John Davies, SP
Mr. Douglas MacArthur, II, WE
Mr. Elim O’Shaughnessy, WE
Mr. G. McMurtrie Godley, WE
Mr. Charles S. Reed, SEA
Mr. W.S.B. Lacy, SEA
Mr. Charlton Ogburn, Jr., SEA

The meeting was called to consider what steps, if any, we might profitably take in Indochina.

The SEA representatives noted that the agreement of March 8 between Baodai and Auriol left France in nearly full control of Vietnam’s foreign relations and in substantial control of Vietnam’s armed forces and hence that there seemed little chance that the agreement would appeal to Vietnamese nationalists or that the Baodai experiment would succeed.

The WE representatives explained that there was no chance whatsoever of the French making any concessions at the present time beyond those contained in the agreement, and that for us to press them to do so would only stiffen and antagonize them.

It was the consensus of the meeting that the US should not put itself in a forward position in the Indochina problem since there appeared to be nothing we could do to alter the very discouraging prospects, and that we should endeavor to “collectivize” our approach to the situation.

Accordingly, it was determined that WE would instruct Embassy Paris to endeavor to obtain openly the text of the agreement between Baodai and Auriol in order that we might discuss it with the French and other governments. Embassy Paris would also be instructed to obtain copies of the documents associated with the agreement, some of which the Department has not received from any source and which are believed to include provisions for the transfer of the federal services to the Bao-dai Government.

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In particular it was decided that we should aim at establishing a common position with the British, the Indians, and the Filipinos.