313. Telegram From the Embassy in France to the Department of State 1

6612. Subject: Hanoi “Signal.” Lucet, Director PolAffs Foreign Office, called in DCM May 20 to transmit officially Hanoi signal (Embtel 6582)2 to USG. Stated “We were not asked to convey message” but were doing so as “friend and ally.”

Message followed lines reftel with additional details:

Re “Indian propositions”3 (i.e. cessation of hostilities on both sides of 17th parallel, surveillance of “frontiers” of two Vietnams by Afro-Asian force, maintenance of demarcation line) DRVN had asked how North and South Viet Nam could agree on cease-fire since conflict not between Vietnamese but between Americans and Vietnamese. Furthermore, DRVN could not understand how India could propose Afro-Asian force since India knew ICC and Geneva Accords were existing instrumentalities designed to guarantee Viet Nam independence, territorial integrity and unity. Indian proposals would result in “consolidation of division” of Viet Nam; hence, they could only be rejected.
However, “with text in his hand,” Bo stressed that four April 8 points including withdrawal of American troops, liquidation military bases, etc. should not be “isolated” from “declaration” which followed. Four points constituted “best base” from which to find “most just” solution. Recognition these “principles” would create favorable conditions [Page 683] for solution problem and would “open” possibility of convocation conference like Geneva 1954.4
When asked if Hanoi recognized that realization of its proposed “principle of withdrawal” of American forces would depend upon the “conclusions of a negotiation,” Bo responded “exactly” and indicated that if there were agreement on the “bases”, the “ways and means” of application of “principles” would be found and in peaceful manner; possibilities were many; a way out (porte de sortie) should be found for US; “our suggestion humiliates no one (sic).”

Quai officials seemed convinced that DRVN delegation head had been instructed by his government to make the foregoing approach as a matter of urgency during the cessation of US bomb attacks.5 Lucet had no comment on discrepancy between Hanoi May 18 communiqué denouncing “so-called cessation bombings”6 and foregoing démarche except to indicate that former was for public consumption.

Lucet expressed interest in Indian mediatory role in this matter and expressed intention seek details from Indian Charge.

Comment: Any information on this subject which Emb could pass on to Quai would help ensure continued flow from French sources.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 27 VIET S. Confidential. Repeated to Saigon and Moscow.
  2. Document 308.
  3. See Document 285.
  4. A marginal note on the source text at this point, in an unknown hand, reads: “differs from 6582.”
  5. In Washington the Department of State’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research differed with the CIA over the intent underlying the North Vietnamese approach. The CIA felt that the démarche was intended to probe the U.S. position on a settlement, but did not see it as a response to the bombing pause. (CIA Intelligence Memorandum, OCI No. 1765/65, May 27; Department of State, EA/ACA Files: Lot 69 D 412, Mai Van Bo 1965) Allen S. Whiting of INR felt that the French were correct in assessing the démarche as a response to the bombing pause. Like the CIA analysts, Whiting was prepared to accept the approach as genuine, and authorized by Hanoi, but, where the CIA saw a probe for flexibility on the part of the United States, Whiting saw a somewhat more serious effort to establish a basis for negotiations. (Memorandum from Whiting to Hughes, June 1; ibid., Ball Papers: Lot 72 D 272, Vietnam Misc #IV)
  6. For text of this statement, see American Foreign Policy: Current Documents, 1965, pp. 870–871.