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

324. Eyes only Ambassador Lodge. Embtel 412.2

Re your paragraph 4, President’s interview3 sets general objective of U.S. policy, i.e., to secure a victory in war against Viet Cong. It is in that context that he expressed our sense of need for change in GVN policies and perhaps in personnel so as to regain touch with people.
Re your paragraph 3, we recognize that you are entering into difficult negotiations and must be the first judge of what you can or cannot achieve in the light of the leverage which you have. Believe you will have clearer picture of what is possible after your first talks with Diem or Nhu and we will then be in better position evaluate results and decide whether we can provide you with more powerful negotiating tools.
You are best judge of whether it is wiser to talk to Nhu or Diem first on question of Nhu’s offer to resign and we accept your advice on this point. However suggest you save other policy issues for talks with Diem. Believe it important to get both talks started as soon as you can.
Do not really believe we have different readings of the situation. Our previous exchanges of telegrams should give you idea of what we believe would be optimum outcome of your talks. Goal is that GVN have political support at home and abroad indispensable to winning war. In opening negotiations you should press for maximum steps in this direction, along lines generally agreed in our preceding exchanges. We do not believe we should set minimum terms at this stage, but should await further report on your negotiations.
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 15 S VIEI Secret; Immediate. Drafted by Hilsman and cleared by Rusk, Harriman, and Bundy. Repeated to CINCPAC POLAD exclusive for Felt.
  2. Supra.
  3. Document 50.