161. Editorial Note

At a press conference on February 24, U.N. Secretary-General U Thant intimated that the U.S. Government was hiding [Page 366] from the American people the truth about the possibility of a negotiated peace in Vietnam. For an extract from the press conference transcript, as well as extracts from a transcript of a subsequent White House news conference at which questions were raised about U Thant’s comments, see The Papers of Adlai E. Stevenson, volume VIII, pages 663–664. The full transcripts are in Princeton University, Stevenson Papers, Box 906, Press Conferences 1965. At 6:30 p.m., February 24, Secretary of State Rusk telephoned the Deputy Representative to the United Nations, Charles Yost (Adlai Stevenson was in Jamaica); see Document 162. At approximately 10 that evening, Rusk called the Secretary-General, apparently at the latter’s home, and said that “there had been quite a reaction in Washington to the Secretary General’s implication that the truth was being withheld from the American people.” Among other things, Rusk told U Thant that his proposals for talks with the North Vietnamese had been “procedural” rather than “substantive.” A memorandum of this telephone conversation is in The Papers of Adlai E. Stevenson , volume VIII, pages 664–665.

In telegram 2083 to the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, February 25, the Department of State instructed Yost to call on U Thant that morning and provided the points that Rusk wanted him to raise. (Department of State, Central Files, POL 27 VIET S) In telegram UNMIS 21, February 25, Yost reported on the conversation with U Thant (Document 164).

After Stevenson returned from Jamaica, the Department of State, in telegram 2114 to the U.S. Mission, February 26, instructed him to raise with U Thant the following day the matter of a negotiated settlement in Vietnam. (Ibid.) A memorandum of Stevenson’s conversation with U Thant on February 27, with Yost and Bunche also attending, is in The Papers of Adlai E. Stevenson , volume VIII, pages 717–722. Stevenson’s memorandum of March 1, which was sent either to the President or the Secretary of State and in which he recommended the beginning of negotiations in the near future “if they can be arranged without unacceptable preconditions” is printed ibid., pages 722–724.