462. Memorandum of Telephone Conversation Between President Kennedy and the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs (Harriman)0

The President called the Governor. He asked am I talking to the architect of the Geneva Accords. Governor Harriman said I have been willing say that and if it goes down, to take the blame for it. The President said I have a piece of it. The Governor said I want to protect you. Governor Harriman said in all seriousness I think this is the moment to talk. We are now supporting Souvanna and Kong Le and we have every right to demand that he live up to his agreement. If Kong Le gives up and Souvanna goes to Paris, then we have nothing to talk about. This is the one moment when we must go and demand he do something. The Governor said possibly it will not do any good but it won’t do any harm. The President agreed and said perhaps he could find out something of what is going on. The President said he thinks if he gets into discussion of Cuba, Governor Harriman can make a point of all the difficulties we are having trying to carry out a policy, and we think he should make a comparable effort in carrying out a policy in Laos. Governor Harriman said the Secretary suggested his saying what the President is doing here, all he is doing, going against public opinion. The President asked didn’t Governor Harriman think he should have a letter to Khrushchev saying he has sent Governor Harriman. Governor Harriman said yes he thought so. The President asked Governor Harriman to talk to Mr. Bundy about the letter. The President asked what do we do, send a wire to see if he would receive you. The Governor replied Yes. The Governor referred to Gromyko document to Home which accuses us of being the trouble. The President asked why are we the trouble. The Governor replied they say we have been supporting the Meo’s and the Meo’s create trouble. Governor Harriman said none of our people have fired a single shot. He said he thought there would be some value in confronting him with Hanoi rumors. Governor Harriman said he suggested to Mr. Bundy that Mike Forrestal accompany him. He speaks Russian, very level-headed, through the years has been very helpful and thinks he will be of help now. President said good. At the end of the conversation Governor Harriman repeated that he may not achieve anything but he guaranteed he wouldn’t do any harm. President said I think you ought to do it.

  1. Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Harriman Papers, Chronology File, Telephone Conversations, February to April 1963. No classification marking. Transcribed in Harriman’s office. A note on the source text indicates that Rusk, Ball, Thompson, U. Alexis Johnson, and Hilsman were to see it.