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285. Notes of a Meeting, The White House1

Rusk: prob. of American impatience is involved in VN. Gen. Choi [Chau?]commented that many in VN who revere Ho Chi Minh & hate French and all Westerners. Diem is having great trouble staying in power. We are trying to find out if a job can be done-Diem fears we are trying to take over VN. Controlled VN press is pushing this line.

Johnson summarized where we are now. Talks began on 17 Nov. Diem worried over comment in message to Diem 2 “we expect to share in decision making in security milt pol. & ec. field.” Thuan felt Diem could not accept it publicly. Diem could not accept sweeping reorg. of govt. Diem felt security came before reorg. of govt.

SecState-VN Amb. conversation-expressed concern over press items etc. re-and rebutted US failures.3

Lansdale-Diem fears we are trying to do what French did by putting key officials in VN conferences. State proposal is to send Lansdale out as an “explainer” of US position.

SecDef suggested that Nolting come back & report if next talks are negative.

Jorden report is being printed-will be finished by 6 Dec. Question is-should we release it if next round of talks is negative.

Rostow considers joint survey of Corps Areas is extremely important.

Hamilton explained ec. aid proposals-Diem not yet informed Nolting is armed.

Meeting with Pres.

Rusk reviewed previous comments.

Pres. asked Lansdale if our program made sense.

[Page 676]

Lansdale-Yes, but there is an opportunity for misunderstanding which should be cleared up.

P-what about Jorden report?

SecState-being printed but no dist. until new talk with Diem.

P-when policy is decided people on spot must support it or get out. There must be whole-hearted support.

Johnson & Rostow will redraft instr. to.

P–who will head it up in Defense?

Sec-myself & L.

  1. Source: National Defense University, Lemnitzer Papers, L-217-71. Top Secret. Handwritten by Lemnitzer. According to the source text, the following people were present: Rusk, Johnson, McNamara, Lemnitzer, Taylor, William Bundy, Rostow, McGeorge Bundy, Hamilton, and Lansdale. Neither Lemnitzer’s nor Taylor’s Appointment Books at the National Defense University lists the participants at the meeting. Rusk’s Appointment Book lists as participants the President, Rusk, McNamara, Lemnitzer, Taylor, Johnson, Bell, Rostow, Hamilton, and Bundy (without specifying William or McGeorge). (Johnson Library, Rusk Appointment Books) The President’s log indicates that the meeting was off the record and was attended by the President, Rusk, U. Alexis Johnson, McNamara, William Bundy, Lemnitzer, Lansdale, Hamilton, Dulles, Taylor, Rostow, and McGeorge Bundy. (Kennedy Library, JFK Logs) The source text seems to indicate that the President joined the meeting in progress.
  2. Apparently a reference to telegram 319, see footnote 2, Document 257.
  3. See Document 280.