194. Telegram From the Ambassador in France (Dillon) to the Department of State1

5080. Foreign Office (Roux) called meeting United States–United Kingdom Embassy representatives this morning (Minister Associated States representative present) to initiate discussion question all-Vietnamese elections. Roux began by saying that he thought on basis views already expressed by United States (he referred to paper left by Young2) and United Kingdom, all three countries were fully in agreement that pre-electoral consultations between South Vietnamese Government and Vietminh should take place as envisaged by Geneva Accords beginning July 20. He said question to be resolved now, however, was how bring two parties together.

Roux expressed thought that views United States–United Kingdom–France on this score could perhaps be presented Vietnamese Government most effectively within framework proposed four-power conference Saigon if held in time. We added that we had gotten impression from Vietnamese official sources Paris that this was sort of question Vietnamese Government would like raise with three powers in course Saigon conference (Embtel 49793). Roux noted, however, that it important that tripartite views on how initiate pre-electoral consultations be presented Vietnamese Government within next 30 days whether four-power conference held within that time or not. Roux added that if conference Saigon at level permanent representatives then it could very likely be held between now and June 15.

As regards level representation proposed Saigon conference, we said we had gotten impression from Vietnamese official sources Paris that Vietnamese Government thinking in terms level above that of permanent representatives Saigon and preferably at or near Foreign Minister level (Embtel 50354). Roux indicated tentative French thinking as favoring permanent representative level although he made clear this not final. Roux cautioned, however, that if conference at Foreign Minister level and held so close date consultations scheduled to begin, there might be tendency on part certain countries to interpret conference as designed to concert allied views toward a modification of Geneva Accords. Secondly since San Francisco conference5 [Page 420] would make it impossible for Foreign Ministers to meet Saigon before end June, if by then, conference at level permanent representatives Saigon would appear offer best possibility for holding of conference by early June. We stated Department considering question level representatives. British expressed no firm views this score.

Roux stated that immediate and most pressing question was who should take initiative to bring South Vietnamese Government and Viet Minh together by July 20 to begin pre-electoral consultations, noting the importance of not delaying and giving Viet Minh opportunity seize initiative, or arriving at July 20 with question still undecided. Roux said French considered there two possibilities: Call on two presidents Geneva Conference or on ICC to make approach to two parties. He indicated French thought former course preferable and most logical. United Kingdom representative concurred subject approval London. Roux continued saying that if four-power conference Saigon held in time, United Kingdom, for example, might propose that conference call on two presidents Geneva Conference take initiative to approach two parties. In approaching two parties with view bringing them together, Roux said Geneva Conference presidents should perhaps suggest a possible site for talks as well as pose question as to level representation two parties desired have participate talks. Regarding possible site, the thought was generally expressed that a location in demilitarized zone would perhaps have best chance acceptance by two sides. Roux concluded saying that Geneva Conference presidents would solely endeavor bring two parties together leaving to latter discussion fundamental aspects problem of elections.

Roux suggested finally that United States and United Kingdom Embassy representatives continue to meet with French to concert views on objectives arid modalities all-Vietnamese elections which could then be presented to Vietnamese Government for its consideration in course four-power conference. It was generally agreed that in any event Vietnamese Government would be kept informed developments tripartite thinking on all-Vietnamese elections regardless four-power conference timetable. This connection, Roux stated that French views on fundamental aspects all-Vietnamese elections appeared to parallel substantially views expressed in paper this subject handed him by Young. We presume Department has no objection our giving copy latter paper to United Kingdom Embassy.

Question possible Australian request for participation in four-power conference Saigon raised, but Roux pointed out that this fundamentally question for Vietnamese Government since it inviting power and, in any event, it should not be difficult to agree on formula to keep Australian representative Saigon fully informed. It was [Page 421] generally agreed that inclusion Australia would perhaps open door additional demands for participation.

We said we would convey general lines French thinking this score to Department. Roux said he would send to United States and United Kingdom Embassies written outline points raised in course meeting to facilitate consideration by United States and United Kingdom Governments with view to development common position. Will forward when received.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 751G.00/5–2055. Secret. Repeated for information to Saigon.
  2. The text of the U.S. position paper, May 5, was attached to a memorandum of conversation by Young, May 13. (Ibid., 751G.00/5–1355)
  3. Dated May 16, not printed. (Ibid., 751G.00/5–1655)
  4. Dated May 18, not printed. (Ibid., 751G.00/5–1855)
  5. The reference is to the ceremonies planned for June 23–27, marking the tenth anniversary of the founding of the United Nations.