29. Telegram From the Chargé in France (Achilles) to the Department of State 1

3195. Roux gave us this afternoon French Govt position on Secretary’s proposal (Deptel 26292), saying that Mendes personally had asked him convey these views to us. Roux said that with exception two minor modifications in text letter from Ely to Collins on MAAG training role, French Govt prepared accept two points contained Secretary’s proposal. As regards letter from Ely to Collins, French Govt prefers combine first two sentences US suggested draft to read as follows: “It is agreed that all US and French advisory and training personnel assigned or detached to the Vietnamese armed forces will be under the direction of the Chief MAAG acting under the general authority of the Commander in Chief”. Roux reiterated reasons (second para reftel 3) for eliminating phrase in first sentence “US personnel will be assigned” and for use term “Commander in Chief” instead of more personalized reference to “Gen Ely”. Roux said, however, that French Govt has decided not ask for inclusion reference letter from Ely to Collins that MAAG responsibilities be carried out “in conformity with agreements in force” (third point second para reftel).

Principal point French Govt position as outlined by Roux that indicated third para reftel. Roux reiterated that since French Govt prepared give US assurances in form letters proposed by Secretary subject above modifications, and since this then presumably would satisfy US criticism of shortcomings French January 7 proposal, French Govt hoped that US Govt could see its way clear to meet [Page 71] equally strong French desires to use French January 7 proposal in French-US approach Vietnamese Govt. Roux said once again that French desired use document such as French January 7 proposal in approach Vietnamese Govt in order underline joint nature Franco-American approach and in order have agreed document that could if necessary be made public and that could be used in connection with possible future French Parliamentary inquiries for example. Roux concluded saying that he personally thought French proposal reasonable and that he hoped that we could settle this matter quickly and to satisfaction both sides.

With respect to Cambodian army training problem (Embtel 31744), Roux said this “much more delicate matter” and that preliminary French views this regard being transmitted French Embassy Washington for presentation to Department.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 751G.5/1–2855. Top Secret. Repeated for information to Saigon.
  2. Document 26.
  3. While there is no indication in the source text of the specific number of the reference telegram, Achilles is apparently referring to telegram 3173 from Paris, January 27, in which he reported concern by an unnamed Foreign Ministry official (whose position in the Quai d’Orsay coincided with Roux’s) that Mendès-France was under increasing pressure at home to insure that the Geneva Accords were strictly observed. The phrase, “U.S. personnel will be assigned” conceivably opened the door to charges that the United States intended to increase the MAAG ceiling in Vietnam above the figure allowed by the Geneva Accords. (Department of State, Central Files, 751G.5/1–2755)
  4. Not printed.