90. Memorandum of Conversation, Department of State, Washington, February 27, 1962, 3:04 p.m.1

SUBJECT

  • Vietnam

PARTICIPANTS

  • His Excellency B.K. Nehru, Ambassador of India
  • The Secretary
  • Mr. James R Grant, Deputy Assistant Secretary, NEA
  • Mr. Rogers B. Horgan, Office of South Asian Affairs

Ambassador Nehru made what was essentially a courtesy call on the Secretary immediately prior to his return to India for a fortnightʼs consultation. After the usual pleasantries, the Secretary raised the subject of Vietnam.

The Secretary reviewed briefly the United States position regarding Vietnam, emphasizing that the US did not wish the trouble in Vietnam to become a serious war. He said that if the ICC can find a way of stopping penetrations from the North, the US would work diligently to bring the situation back in line with the Geneva Accords. We recognize the problem posed to the ICC by our overt assistance to South Vietnam, but we cannot fail to take account of the reality of the covert violations of the Geneva Accords by the other side.

The Ambassador indicated that both in New Delhi and in Vietnam itself the Indians had some difficulties because of the extreme visibility of our assistance. The Ambassador, however, repudiated the Secretaryʼs suggestion that perhaps the Indian Chairman of the ICC [Page 184]would prefer to dose his eyes to violations on both sides. The Secretary then explored the Indian position with regard to the ICCʼs responsibilities toward investigating subversion. The Ambassador indicated his belief that India held the view that subversion as such was not the concern of the ICC; it became a matter for the ICC only when it could be shown that it came from the outside.

The Ambassador asked whether there was anything specific the United States wished India to do in Vietnam. He would be glad to convey these desires to New Delhi. The Secretary said what we wished was for the ICC to get at the violations coming from the North if it can do so. Mr. Grant added it was our hope the ICC would not make charges against the GVN right now, at least until it answered complaints that have been made against the North.

The Secretary wondered whether our side had been getting to the ICC all the information we can on these complaints.

It was left for Mr. Grant to inform himself on this matter and to have specific information for the Ambassador regarding the type of ICC action the US felt should be taken now. (Mr. Grant talked further to the Ambassador on this subject the following day and left with him the attached paper.)

[Attachment]

For an extended period of time the Government of the Republic of Vietnam has been providing the ICC with evidence that the North Vietnamese regime has been violating the Geneva Accord. Thus on October 24, 1961 the Government of the Republic of Vietnam made an elaborate presentation to the ICC of the data available at that time of North Vietnamese-directed subversion in South Vietnam. The presentation was accompanied by the request that the ICC investigate. Additional evidence was submitted on November 16, 1961, December 29, 1961 and, most recently, on January 27, 1962. Much of this information was used in the preparation of the “White Paper” prepared by the United States Government entitled “A Threat to the Peace”.2

By its letter of December 9, 1961, to the ICC,3 the Government of the Republic of Vietnam notified the ICC that it has requested extraordinary aid from the United States for as long as the North Vietnamese regime pursued its aggression. The United States considers the position of the Government of the Republic of Vietnam stated in that letter to be consonant with international law: non-observance [Page 185]of a treaty obligation by one party to that treaty justifies comparable non-observance by the other party until the first party is prepared to observe its obligations.

The ICC has not yet taken definitive action on these complaints of the Government of the Republic of Vietnam. This is despite the fact that on June 24, 1961 the ICC decided that it has the competence and the duty to investigate complaints under Articles 10,19, 24 and 27 of activities fomented by one party against the other in violation of the Geneva Accord.

We recognize Indiaʼs very difficult role as Chairman of an organization whose members have widely differing views and which has the responsibility of attempting to enforce a cease fire under most difficult circumstances. The actions of the North Vietnam regime are convert actions taken by a closed society. Counter-actions of the Government of the Republic of Vietnam and the support by the United States provided on request are those of open societies acting overtly.

The United States hopes that before any citing of the Government of Vietnam the ICC would act on the complaints made by the Government of the Republic of Vietnam over the last two years of subversion by North Vietnam. If the ICC does cite the Government of the Republic of Vietnam for violating the Geneva Accord, we would expect the ICC at the very least to cite at the same time the North Vietnam regime, since it is the actions of North Vietnam which give rise to the counter-actions of the Government of the Republic of Vietnam.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 751K.00/2-2762. Confidential. Drafted by Grant and Horgan. Approved in S on March 6. A note at the top of the first page indicates that this is the first of two parts. Part II is not attached to the source text, but another account of the meeting transmitted to McGeorge Bundy in the White House under a memorandum of February 28 for the Presidentʼs perusal prior to his 11:30 meeting with Nehru contains a second section on Kashmir. (Ibid.) The text of the section on Vietnam is identical with that printed here except for the final sentence, which is missing in the version transmitted to the White House. The attachment is also missing from the White House version. No record of the Presidentʼs meeting with Nehru has been found.
  2. See Foreign Relations, 1961-1963, vol. I, Document 315.
  3. Printed in American Foreign Policy: Current Documents, 1961, p. 1056.