254. Editorial Note
On April 14 British Prime Minister Wilson came to the United States for a 2-day visit. He spent most of April 14 in New York where he met with, among others, U.N. Secretary General Thant and Representative to the United Nations Stevenson. No record of Wilson’s conversation with Stevenson has been found.
On April 15 Wilson flew to Washington where the President met with him at a formal luncheon at the White House. In a memorandum of April 14 to the President, Acting Secretary of State Ball wrote that Wilson had indicated he would want to discuss primarily two subjects: the British economic situation and Vietnam. In providing talking points for the President on Vietnam, Ball remarked:
“British Government support for U.S. policy in Vietnam has been stronger than that of our other major allies. It has been skillfully conducted and stoutly maintained by the Prime Minister. Criticism of this close identification with U.S. policy was begun by the left wing of the Labor Party but has broadened to include other elements fearful of the possible consequences in Vietnam.
“Your Johns Hopkins speech, which the British Government praised as being statesmanlike and imaginative, has relieved the pressure of the Prime Minister. His sending of Patrick Gordon Walker, former Foreign Secretary, on an exploratory mission to the Far East has served the same purpose as will his ability to meet with you directly.
“You should indicate appreciation for the support the Prime Minister has given us on Vietnam. We have made known our willingness to discuss a peaceful solution but the first reactions from Hanoi and Peking are not encouraging.” (Johnson Library, National Security File, Memos to the President, McGeorge Bundy, Vol. IX)
The White House luncheon began at 1:34 p.m. and also included various Cabinet members, Congressmen, Senators, and members of Wilson’s party and the British Embassy. The President’s Daily Diary does not indicate when the luncheon ended, but the President, along with Secretary of Defense McNamara, left Andrews Air Force Base at 3:17 p.m. for Texas where he was to spend the Easter weekend. (Johnson Library) No memorandum of the discussion at the luncheon meeting has been found, but for Wilson’s reminiscences of his visit to the United States, including an account of the luncheon discussion with the President, see The Labour Government, pages 94–96.