178. Telegram From the Embassy in Vietnam to the Department of State1

Eyes only for Secretary Rusk for [from] Lodge. Please pass to DCI Mr. John McCone. Reference Big Minh-Conein meeting ([document number not declassified]).2 While neither General Harkins nor I have great faith in Big Minh, we need instructions on his approach. My recommendation, in which General Harkins concurs, is that Conein when next approached by Minh should:

Assure him that US will not attempt to thwart his plans.
Offer to view his plans, other than assassination plans.
Assure Minh that US aid will be continued to Vietnam under government which gives promise of gaining support of people and winning the war against the Communists. Point out that it is our view that this is most likely to be the case if government includes good proportion of well qualified civilian leaders in key positions. (Conein should press Minh for details his thinking re composition future government.)

[Page 368]

I suggest the above be discussed with Secretary McNamara and General Taylor who contacted Minh in recent visit.

  1. Source: Department of State, Har-Van Files, Coup South Vietnam. Top Secret. Sent via CIA channels as telegram IN 34026. A note on the source text indicates that copies were sent to McGeorge Bundy, Hilsman, and Krulak. Also printed in Pentagon Papers: Gravel Edition, vol. 11, p. 768. No transmission time is given on the source text.
  2. Document 177.