30. Telegram From the Acting Secretary of State to the Embassy in France 1

2726. Paris 3195 repeated Saigon 485.2 We are still concerned over potential misunderstanding which may result from French use of January 7 version as “agreed document that could, if necessary, be made public”. Our position is that French version in itself was not satisfactory to U.S. After talking with General Collins however and since we desire see early solution this important matter Department feels French revision dated January 7 of ElyCollins Minute of Understanding is acceptable, only if implemented in conjunction with a letter from General Ely to Diem regarding autonomy and a letter from General Ely to General Collins defining the role of the U.S. MAAG. These three documents will therefore constitute a satisfactory substitute for the original ElyCollins memorandum of understanding. [Page 72] You should inform Foreign Office our acceptance French counter proposal is based on following commitment by France:

A letter to be sent from General Ely to General Collins stating: “It is agreed that all U.S. 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 general3 authority of the Commander in Chief of the French Union Forces in Viet-Nam. (Note U.S. addition of preceding words, added for clarity.) As the efficiency of the Vietnamese Armed Forces increases, the number of U.S. and French advisors and trainers will be decreased.”
A letter from General Ely to Diem which will include the phrase that “The Armed Forces of Viet-Nam will be completely autonomous by July 1, 1955; specifically that all units of these armed forces will be staffed and commanded by Vietnamese officers.”

These two letters then and the French revision of 7 January would be acceptable to the U.S. in place of the original ElyCollins Minute of Understanding.

To finally settle issue we propose French Government should instruct Ely dispatch letters to Diem and to Collins soon as possible, probably by February 4. (Latter to be held in Saigon by Kidder pending his arrival.)

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 751G.5/1–2855. Top Secret. Drafted by Hoey and cleared by Young, MacArthur, Murphy, and Collins and in EUR. Repeated for information to Saigon. Dulles was on vacation outside Washington January 29–February 5. (Princeton University Library, Dulles Papers, Dulles Appointment Book)
  2. Supra .
  3. In telegram 3240 from Paris, February 2, Achilles reported that the French Foreign Ministry accepted all revisions proposed except the word “general” in this sentence. The reason given by the French was that it was untranslatable into French. Achilles suggested with French concurrence that “overall” be substituted (translated as “haute” or “superieure” in the French text). The Department of State agreed in telegram 2742 to Paris, February 2. (Department of State, Central Files, 751G.5/2–255)