365. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Vietnam1

931. CINCPAC for POLAD. Paris for Koren. Saigon’s 1142 and 1143.2 We concur your view on desirability public statement US position on international negotiations regarding Viet-Nam. Believe it would be better for statement to be made in Saigon than Washington since that should be less likely provoke press request for US public statement (which we prefer avoid) on proposed international conference on Cambodian neutrality.

Suggest you make statement along following lines:

“International discussion of the Viet-Nam problem has been suggested in some press circles. I wish to state that the US Government does not see that any purpose would be served by international talks on Viet-Nam. It, therefore, is giving no consideration to such talks.

“US policy toward Viet-Nam continues to be as outlined by the late President Kennedy in 1961 and as reaffirmed by President Johnson. Like the Republic of Viet-Nam, we are devoted to peace. Our primary purpose in Viet-Nam is to help the government and people of -South Viet-Nam maintain their independence.

“As President Kennedy stated in 1961,3 the measures we are taking to assist the defense efforts of South Viet-Nam will no longer be necessary if the Communist authorities in North Viet-Nam will stop their campaign to destroy the Republic of Viet-Nam.

“Our goal is thus to return to the cease-fire established in Viet-Nam by the Geneva Accords of 1954. If Hanoi will cease and desist in its subversive aggression against the Republic of Viet-Nam, and the Government in Saigon is thereby enabled to extend its authority without resistance throughout South Viet-Nam, a cease-fire will result.

“Meanwhile, as long as Hanoi continues to support the guerrilla war against the Government of the Republic of Viet-Nam, the US will continue to furnish whatever assistance is required to help that government resist aggression.”4

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 27 S VIET Confidential; Priority. Drafted by Mendenhall; cleared by Hilsman, Robert J. McCloskey, Deputy Director, Office of News, Bureau of Public Affairs, and Frank P. Lockhart, public affairs officer in the Bureau of Far Eastern Affairs; and approved by Harriman. Repeated to CINCPAC, Phnom Penh, Bangkok, London, and Paris.
  2. Telegram 1142 is Document 359; regarding telegram 1143, see footnote 5 thereto.
  3. Apparent reference to Kennedy’s letter to Diem, December 14, 1961, the text of which is printed in Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: John F. Kennedy, 1961, p. 801.
  4. The Embassy, in telegram 1157 from Saigon, December 13, took exception to the Department’s proposed statement. The telegram reads as follows:

    GVN’s immediate concern is conference on Cambodian neutrality which they rightly fear would encourage neutralism in South Viet-Nam and undermine will to fight in this country. As proposed statement does not address Cambodian neutrality proposal, I do not believe it would be reassuring to GVN, given context in which question has been raised. We are better off standing on Deptel 922, substance of which I have passed to them privately, and which goes further than proposed public statement.

    “I must reiterate as strongly as I can that until U.S. has turned down Sihanouk’s proposal definitively, there is going to remain in Viet-Nam a large residue of doubt about our ultimate intentions. And this doubt will inevitably have a bad effect on the determination of the new Vietnamese leadership to pursue the war effort vigorously.” (Department of State, Central Files, POL 27 S VIET; telegram 922 is Document 358.)