162. Memorandum of Telephone Conversation Between Secretary of State Rusk and the Deputy Representative to the United Nations (Yost)1


Sec said he would appreciate it if Y could make a quiet but prompt call on the SYG and make the following points: 1) we have followed with great interest all indications we have had from Hanoi and Peiping through many channels in addition to their public broadcasts and we do not yet see any indication on their side privately or otherwise that a political [Page 367] channel can be used to bring about the security and safety and peace of these nations of Southeast Asia; 2) any idea that the US should withdraw must be linked with the cessation of infiltration from the North and a withdrawal of infiltrated personnel that the North has sent in to South Viet Nam; this is fundamental, otherwise it would leave the countries of Southeast Asia at the mercy of the Communists; 3) there is no possibility of negotiations the object of which is to have the US withdraw and leave those countries to be overrun by the north; 4) a public negotiation which fails is an exceedingly dangerous development in the situation; therefore there is a real point in quiet diplomacy to ascertain whether any possibility of success exists; 5) this is relevant to his calling a meeting of the Powers in Geneva; it could be very dangerous if there is not sufficient preparatory work; 6) we cannot undertake direct, bilateral contact with Hanoi; we could not do it without the knowledge of our friends in Southeast Asia; there was no indication such contacts would produce results; we do not believe direct contact is desirable or contributes to peace. Y said he would ask what he could do. Sec said if he feels as SYG he wants to try to find out whether Hanoi is prepared to accept the publicly stated American view that our presence there is solely a result of the infiltration of men and material from North to South Viet Nam and if this can be stopped, American forces would go home—he could explore on his behalf but not on ours. Sec said to emphasize very strongly that the idea of American withdrawal in the absence of cessation of this aggression is out of the question. Y will do that. Sec said we were not looking for a face saver; we are looking for the security of 100 small nations around the world including his own of Burma; if he feels as SYG by quiet diplomacy he can find out something, ok. Y said he would see him early tomorrow morning or will try tonight.

(Y’s office called back to say SYG had left for home and Y would see him first thing in the morning, about 10 am.)

  1. Source: Department of State, Rusk Files: Lot 72 D 192, Telephone Calls. No classification marking. Prepared by Procter. Rusk was in Washington; Yost was in New York. For related information, see Document 161.