303. Telegram From Secretary of State Rusk to the Department of State1

Secto 29. Mayflower. For the Under Secretary from the Secretary. Have just returned from Chancellor’s lunch for visiting dignitaries. After lunch Gromyko and I and our wives were at a small table for coffee. I commented to Gromyko that we were in something of a dilemma about Southeast Asia. We felt there might be some value in a serious exchange of views between our two governments but that we did not know whether they themselves wished to discuss it.

He commented with considerable seriousness that the Soviets will not negotiate about Viet-Nam. He said there were other parties involved in that situation and that the United States would have to find ways of establishing contact with them, and he specifically mentioned the DRV. He said they will continue to support North Viet-Nam and will do so “decisively”. He then made reference to a fellow socialist country under attack.

I interrupted to point out that the problem was not that a socialist country was subject to attack but that a socialist country was attacking someone else. I said that American military forces are in South Viet-Nam solely because North Viet-Nam has been sending large numbers of men and arms into the South.

He denied these facts in the usual ritual fashion but added that in any event it was not up to the United States to be the judge between Vietnamese. I reminded him that he must know by now that a North Korean attack against South Koreans would not be accepted merely because both were Korean. He merely commented that there were important differences between those two situations.

He referred to Dobrynin’s talk with me2 and said that the temporary suspension of bombing was “insulting”. I said I could not understand this in view of the fact that Hanoi, Peiping and Moscow have all talked about the impossibility of discussions while bombing was going on.

At this point Chancellor Klaus joined the table to express great happiness that Gromyko and I were sitting together. Neither one of us dispelled his illusion.

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I do not know whether Gromyko will pursue the matter further when the four Foreign Ministers meet briefly with Quaison-Sackey this afternoon or when we all assemble for the opera tonight.

Thompson and I both have the impression that Gromyko’s attitude clearly means that the Salinger talk was of little substance and that we should now merely consider what kind of signal we wish to get back by way of Salinger as a part of the closing out process.

I do not believe that we should assume from Gromyko’s remarks that we ourselves should not put to Moscow our own most serious views of the situation, whether they are willing to discuss them or not. It is quite clear, however, that Gromyko wanted me to believe that they are not prepared to work toward a settlement in Hanoi and Peiping and that, indeed, unless we abandon our effort in South Viet-Nam there will be very serious consequences ahead.

  1. Source: Department of State, EA/ACA Files: Lot 69 D 412, Project Mayflower. Secret; Immediate;Nodis. Repeated to Moscow. No time of transmission is indicated on the source text, but it was received in the Department of State at 1:18 p.m.
  2. See Document 294.