87. Editorial Note

On April 10, 1963, the National Security Council met to consider problems in Laos and South Vietnam. At the request of McGeorge Bundy,-the Department of State prepared and circulated to the National Security Council a briefing paper which outlined the problems to be considered by the Council. (Memorandum of telephone conversation, April 8; Library of Congress, Harriman Papers, Telcons — March-April-May-1963) The problem at issue in Vietnam was identified in the paper as “an apparently critical situation” which had developed concerning the Counter-Insurgency Piaster Fund established in 1962. The paper traced the dispute over the question of joint supervision of the fund, and concluded: “It now seems probable that a reasonable and effective compromise can be worked out in the field which will provide for appropriate Vietnamese funding contributions and adequate U.S. advisory representation in the Counter-Insurgency Program.” (Memorandum for consideration by the National Security Council on April 10; Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Vietnam Country Series, /4/63-5/63)

The National Security Council limited its discussion on April 10, however, to the implications of developments in Laos. According to a summary record of the meeting prepared by Bromley Smith, “Mr Harriman recommended that the discussion of Vietnam be omitted in view of recent developments which indicated that the problem discussed in the State paper was not as urgent as had appeared earlier.” (Ibid., Meetings and Memoranda Series)

Harriman wrote to General Taylor after the meeting that the National Security Council had deferred consideration of Vietnam in light of the assurance received from Saigon in telegram 893 (Document 85) that a compromise on the issue of the counterinsurgency fund seemed likely. Harriman added, “it was decided that the Ambassador and the Country Team should be given an opportunity to work out the ‘reasonable and effective compromise’ which is predicated in that message.” Therefore, Harriman concluded, “it would be appropriate for the Special Group (CI) to be guided by this decision and to defer consideration of the subject until and unless it appears that our Ambassador and his Country Team are unable to accomplish the results which they anticipate.” (Memorandum from Harriman to Taylor, April 10; Department of State, Central Files,POL 26-1 S VIET)