294. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in the Soviet Union 1

3104. Strictly eyes only for Ambassadors from Secretary. I saw Dobrynin tonight and made oral statement confirmed by piece of paper2 following exactly same format on substance as message to DRV contained septel.3 Only changes concerned first paragraph and first sentence of second paragraph with appropriate substitutions of Soviets and calling attention to Soviet specific mention of factors cited first sentence second paragraph.

I explained we were not indicating any precise number of days, that we retained freedom of action, and that we would convey similar message to Hanoi. I also said we would make no announcement although we expected press pressures, and made clear our action related only to strikes of any sort and not to continued reconnaissance. (Paper itself makes clear action confined to DRV and does not include Laos or SVN.)

I also said we did not know what to expect but that Hanoi knows what it is doing and can find a way to make its response clear.

Dobrynin noted we were merely informing Soviets and was clearly relieved we not asking them to act as intermediary. Asked about my trip to Vienna4 and indicated there might be further conversations there Saturday with Gromyko. Asked basically whether action represented any change in fundamental US position.

I replied that it did not and that this should be no surprise.

I reviewed recent indications that Cambodia conference blocked by Peiping despite favorable mention in DRV-Moscow communiqué5 and that three-party talks on Laos likewise in abeyance apparently following Peiping and perhaps Hanoi pressure. President on April 7 had tried open up discourse but thus far channels blocked. If attacks on DRV were part of problem, Communist response to present action might open up channels.

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Dobrynin said he thought we would get some answer but could not predict what.

I underscored importance action not be misunderstood in Hanoi. Hanoi appears to have impression they may succeed, but US will not get tired or be affected by very small domestic opposition or by international pressures. Hanoi cannot rely on Saigon instability. They may have wrong ideas on these points and important they not misunderstand our action.

Dobrynin responded he saw no danger of misunderstanding but problem was to find way.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 27 VIET S. Top Secret; Immediate; Nodis. Drafted by William Bundy, cleared by McGeorge Bundy, and approved by the Secretary. Repeated to Saigon.
  2. Not printed. (Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Vietnam, NODIS-MAYFLOWER)
  3. Document 293.
  4. Rusk traveled to London on May 11 for the NATO Ministerial meeting, May 11–12, and then to Austria for the 10th anniversary celebration of the signing of the Austrian State Treaty.
  5. For excerpts of the joint communiqué issued at Moscow on April 17, see American Foreign Policy: Current Documents, 1965, pp. 855–856.