16. Telegram From the Secretary of State to the Special Representative in Vietnam (Collins)1

2873. For Collins and Achilles eyes only. President approved Collins be in Washington sufficient time to hold preliminary discussion prior appearing before NSC meeting scheduled January 27.2 [Page 34] Report of McClintock, Yost and yourself3 presented to OCB Jan 124 (Saigon’s 2636 rptd Paris 770).

In view presently unresolved matter of French revision ElyCollins memorandum do you feel that pending settlement this problem you can continue negotiations with Vietnamese regarding force levels and other necessary points prior your departure? We now preparing separate instruction intended toward solution French omission commitment on autonomy Vietnam army but cannot predict if this will be settled prior your departure.

As soon as possible I would like to have your views as to possibility successful conclusion an agreement with Vietnam on military matters by the time you leave. Defense has your 26765 under urgent consideration.

We do not accept thesis that a deadline be established by which date, assuming no spectacular progress made by Diem, he be replaced by any of the candidates suggested by French, including Bao Dai. Based on your reports we believe Diem beginning make steady if undramatic progress and in any event we do not see, nor have you reported, a preferable alternate. Therefore you should not join with Ely in any joint recommendation in this respect.

The President would like to have you bring back with you or prepare here after you arrive a report to be considered by NSC on 27th. This should be along lines assessing our chances maintaining Free Vietnam, likely cost to us and possible consequences of failure as contained briefly your 2636.

Separate instructions will be sent regarding your staff.6


  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 751G.5–MSP/1–1055. Top Secret. Drafted by Young and Hoey and signed by Dulles. Also sent to Paris.
  2. According to a handwritten note apparently by Young on a memorandum from Young to Robertson, January 13, Dulles raised the question of Collins’ return to Washington with Eisenhower on the morning of January 13. Radford, according to the note, stated that “it was imperative that Collins return to Saigon after his report here.” (Ibid., 751G.00/1–1355)
  3. A summary of telegram 2636 from Saigon, Document 12, was submitted to the OCB as an attachment to a memorandum from Young to Hoover, January 11. (Ibid., OCB Files: Lot 62 D 430, Southeast Asia 1)
  4. According to a memorandum dated January 12 from Hoover to Dulles, the OCB unanimously suggested that Collins return to Washington between January 15 and 20 to allow sufficient time to prepare and evalute his reports prior to the meeting of the NSC on January 27. According to a marginal notation by O’Connor, the memorandum was not shown to Dulles; instead Hoover raised the issue with the Secretary on the night of January 11 and the morning of the next day. (Ibid., Central Files, 751G.00/1–1255)
  5. See footnote 5, Document 12.
  6. Not printed.