851G.01/5–1349: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Consulate General at Saigon 1


83. Urtel 147:2 Dept believes extent to which Fr concessions embodied Mar 8 agreements will satisfy nationalists can be determined only by reaction nationalists themselves. Meanwhile wld appreciate your view.

While not fully informed provisions Mar 8 agreements plus associated documents, Dept fears nationalist opinion will follow line Duoc Viet editorial Apr 9 which states “although Vietnamese reassured on score their country’s unification, they remain uneasy about question foreign relations and army. Vietnam sovereignty will not permit Vietnamese army be commanded by Fr general nor will requirement of sovereignty be satisfied by diplomatic representation only in China, Siam and Vatican.”

As practical matter, Dept believes that when independence movement in colony too strong to be defeated, metropolitan power if it wishes preserve influence in area has no real choice but attempt establish special relationship with former colony based free acceptance terms by latter, and that assoc between metropolitan power and former colony is more likely prove fruitful and durable if based free consent of latter than if transfer of autonomous powers to latter is made conditional upon its acceptance of such important qualifications upon its independence as continued metropolitan control its fon relations and command armed forces.

However, Dept persuaded Fr unlikely make further concessions this time and that any US efforts press them do so wld probably miscarry. (Paris to indicate if this not correct.) Hope is, therefore, that Fr will carry out their obligations under Mar 8 agreements with such generosity and expedition that impressively constructive atmosphere will be created and that at same time Viet nationalists will rapidly appreciate true character menace approaching from Chi and will prefer cooperate Baodai solution rather than accept alternative continued resistance and risk loss all real autonomy to Chi Commies. Presumably such outcome not impossible particularly if Fr cld let it be understood Baodai agreement does not permanently define status Vietnam but provides basis for further early evolution.

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At same time, shld it appear as Dept fears that Fr are offering too little too late, Dept will not be inclined make up for Fr deficiencies by rushing into breach to support Baodai agreements at cost its own remaining prestige Asia. Dept considers US this stage shld avoid conspicuous position any kind and try reach common attitude with other interested govts, particularly UK, India and Philippines.

  1. Repeated as 1712 to Paris and 13 to Hanoi and in 379, May 24, 5 p. m., to New Delhi, 286 to Bangkok, and 636 to Manila.
  2. May 13, not printed.