301. Telegram From the Embassy in the Soviet Union to the Department of State1

3395. London—eyes only for Secretary. Pierre Salinger who is here on private movie production deal, has been in touch with Mike Sagetallyan, former TASS Bureau Chief Washington, now in headquarters Moscow. At dinner and evening at his apartment Tuesday May 11 [Page 661] Sagatellyan probed Salinger hard as to whether he was on some kind of covert mission and seemed unconvinced despite latter’s reiterated denials. In any case, Sagatellyan, protesting he was speaking personally, talked at length about Viet-Nam. He wanted Salinger’s opinion on hypothetical formula for solution approximately on following lines:

US would announce publicly temporary suspension of bombing DRV;
DRV or USSR or both would make statement hailing suspension as step toward reasonable solution;
Soviet Union would intercede with Viet Cong to curtail military activities;
De facto cease-fire would thus be accomplished.
Conference would be called on related subject (not specifically Viet-Nam). Viet Cong would not be participant but have some kind of observer or corridor status (this followed Salinger’s expression of opinion US govt would never accept Viet Cong as participant in any conference).
New agreement would be worked out on Viet-Nam providing for broader based SVN govt not including direct Viet Cong participation but including elements friendly to Viet Cong.

Salinger refused express opinion on substance foregoing but in reply Sagatellyan’s direct question said he would of course be willing carry any message back to Washington. Sagetellyan, repeating these his personal ideas, said he would talk with government circles and be in touch with Salinger later. He has in fact invited Salinger to dinner again tonight and latter will report results to me tomorrow.

During conversation Sagetellyan several times repeated Sovs could not control situation in Viet-Nam but implied that if they seemed responsible for bringing about cessation of bombardments influence with DRV and Viet Cong would be enhanced. Salinger felt Sagetellyan reflecting official Soviet feeling both Soviet Union and US enmeshed in Vietnamese situation to benefit ChiComs.

  1. Source: Department of State, EA/ACA Files: Lot 69 D 412, Project Mayflower. Secret; Nodis; Repeated to London. No time of transmission is indicated on the source text, but it was received in the Department of State at 2:05 p.m.