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Mr. Jean Letourneau, Minister in the French Cabinet for the Associated States in Indochina, has just concluded a series of conversations with U.S. Government officials from the Department of State Department of Defense, the Office of Director for Mutual Security, the Mutual Security Agency, and Department of the Treasury. The Ambassadors of Cambodia and Viet-Nam have also participated in these talks.
The principle which governed this frank and detailed exchange of views and information was the common recognition that the struggle in which the forces of the French Union and the Associated States are engaged against the forces of Communist aggression in Indochina is an integral part of the world-wide resistance by the Free Nations to Communist attempts at conquest and subversion. There was unanimous satisfaction over the vigorous and successful course of military operations, in spite of the continuous comfort and aid received by the Communist forces of the Viet-Minh from Communist China. The excellent performance of the Associated States' forces in battle was found to be a source of particular encouragement. Special tribute was paid to the 52,000 officers and men of the French Union and Associated States' armies who have been lost in this six years' struggle for freedom in Southeast Asia and to the 75,000 other casualties.
In this common struggle, however, history, strategic factors, as well as local and general resources require that the free countries concerned each assume primary responsibility for resistance in the specific areas where Communism has resorted to force of arms. Thus the United States assumes a large share of the burden in Korea while France has the primary role in Indochina. The partners, however, recognize the obligation to help each other in their areas of primary responsibility to the extent of their capabilities and within the limitations imposed by their global obligations as well as by the requirements in their own areas of special responsibility. It was agreed that success in this continuing struggle would entail an increase in the common effort and that the United States for its part will, therefore, within the limitations set by Congress, take steps to expand its aid to the French Union. It was further agreed that this increased assistance over and above present U.S. aid for Indochina, which now approximates one third of file total cost of Indochina operations, would be especially devoted to assisting France in the building of the national armies of the Associated States.
Mr. Letourneau reviewed the facts which amply demonstrate the determination of the Associated States to pursue with increased energy the strengthening of their authority and integrity both against internal subversion and against external aggression.
In this connection Mr. Letourneau reminded the participants that the accords of 1949,(2) which established the independence within the French Union of Cambodia, Laos and Viet-Nam, have been liberally interpreted and supplemented by other agreements, thus consolidating this independence. Mr. Letourneau pointed out that the governments of the Associated States now exercise full authority except that a strictly limited number of services related to the necessities of the war now in progress remain temporarily in French hands. In the course of the examination of the Far Eastern economic and trade situation, it was noted that the Governments of the Associated States are free to negotiate trade treaties and agreements of all kinds with their neighbors subject only to whatever special arrangements may be agreed between members of the French Union.
It was noted that these states have been recognized by thirty-three foreign governments.
The conversations reaffirmed the common determination of the participants to prosecute the defense of Indochina and their confidence in a free, peaceful and prosperous future for Cambodia, Laos, and Viet-Nam.
Mr.Letourneau was received by the President, Mr. Acheson, and Mr. Foster, as Acting Secretary of Defense. Mr. John Allison, Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs, acted as Chairman of the U.S. Delegation participating in the conversations.
(2) Agreements of Mar. 8, 1949 (Viet-Nam), July 19, 1949 (Laos), and Nov. 8, 1949 (Cambodia) La documentation franchise, Mar. 14, 1950. The text of the agreement with Viet-Nam is also printed in Documents on International Affairs 1949-50 (London, 1953), pp. 596-608. Back
American Foreign Policy 1950-1955
Basic Documents Volumes I and II
Department of State Publication 6446
General Foreign Policy Series 117
Washington, DC : U.S. Governemnt Printing Office, 1957