A military stalemate, deteriorating in favour of Vietminh has prevailed in Indochina for some time. The situation has become serious and recently the United Kingdom, the United States, and Australia began to step up their military aid to the French in the form of aircraft and supplies. As a result of France's lack of military success though, they have become increasingly critical of French strategy and tactics in Indochina.
2. For a considerable time, moreover, the French have sought to share the burden of the conflict and have met with some success in this connection at NATO, Canberra, and Washington, where the Indochinese war is becoming viewed more and more as a part of the West's struggle against Communism. The French have also tried to link the war with a settlement in Korea. On March 28th, a press release issued by the State Department summarizing recent talks with French Ministers stated that the "prosecution of operations in Indochina and Korea cannot successfully be carried out without full recognition of their inter-dependence." (It might be pointed out, however, that the United Kingdom has made serious reservations about this.)
3. Early in April, the Franco-Vietnamese military position was further weakened by Vietminh's invasion of the Kingdom of Laos. Vietminh forces are now reported within 20 miles of Luang Prabang, the Laotian capital, and latest information has it that the French -- outnumbered by more than two to one -- will not be able to hold the city owing to lack of reserves. They cannot use Vietnam troops in Laos, because of local enmities, and their only reinforcements are their French African and Foreign Legion units.
4. On April 13th, the King of Laos appealed through radio and press to the nations of the free world urging formal condemnation, presumably by the United Nations, of the Vietminh invasion. The French, who control. Laotian foreign affairs, did not take too kindly to this move, since they prefer to consider the war in Indochina as an internal struggle within the French Union. However, our Embassy in Washington reports that when Mr. Dulles was in Paris for the recent NATO meeting he expressed himself to French Ministers as being in favour of referring the invasion of Laos to the Security Council, but not to the General Assembly, for the moral advantages of having the aggression stigmatized and in order to embarrass Russia vis-à-vis China should Russia be unable to veto a resolution condemning Vietminh aggression. The French were said to have maintained their previous attitude of reluctance to bring the problem to the United Nations, but to have told him that they would re-examine the possibility of doing so. We are asking our Washington Embassy to investigate this matter further.
5. On April 22nd, the French Embassy sent us formal notes on behalf of the Laotian and French Governments, officially advising that Laos has been invaded. Noncommittal formal acknowledgements were sent in reply, but we have asked our missions in Paris, London, New York, and Washington for more information concerning the significance behind the French notes.
6. It is still too early to assess Vietminh intentions. Their recent announcements about setting up a free Laotian Government and a "Thai homeland" are important political moves which have serious implications going beyond the borders of Indochina. Apparently the Vietminh already have a Laotian princeling in reserve as a puppet for their free Laotian Government.
7. It is doubtful whether the Vietminh invasion of Laos was undertaken without consulting the Chinese. We have no information on this, but if the invasion has the blessing of the Chinese, the implications go clearly beyond Indochina. On the other hand, Vietminh may have begun its campaign strictly on its own without the cognizance of either Peking or Moscow.
8. The situation is still very fluid. Events are moving swiftly and as fresh information comes in, new reports will be prepared.
9. Attached are copies of the three telegrams on Indochina which have come in within the last week.?