16. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in France1

3176. For Ambassador from Acting Secretary. Refs: Your cables 3897, 3912, 3913,2 3914.3

Agree with you it would be timely and useful for Y to seek early appointment with Rupert, even though latter probably lacks definitive instructions pending conclusion Shelepin Hanoi visit. We assume Rupertʼs “illness”4 is over since he met with Manacʼh at Quai January 6 and [Page 45] kept other appointments reported by [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] Gottlieb. If Rupert still claims indisposition, Y should seek appointment with Jean5 but from here appears Rupert would be more desirable target.

At such appointment Y should take following line:

Indicate that USG has received information that Rupert has been receiving a number of American visitors and exchanging messages with them. Among these messages there appeared to be a suggestion that Rupert would be happy to receive a “mandated” US representative.6
Y should make clear that he is the “mandated representative of the USG” suggested by Rupert and that none of his other contacts can claim similar credentials. Y should express surprise that Rupert should be talking to Americans who apparently include journalists about this desire, since USG had assumed that if conversations were to have any usefulness they should be private in first instance and not used by other side for propaganda purposes. Y is and has for long time been prepared to discuss in detail situation in Viet-Nam and its people as Rupert has requested.
Y should then repeat what he told Jean earlier7 that USG continues ready for serious discussions and remind Rupert that we have had no response to written copy of French translation of 4 points discussed on November 18 and handed to Jean subsequently. Y should ask again whether Rupert and his superiors cannot address themselves to some such formulation which prejudges nothing and emphatically reaffirms such points as USG readiness for ultimate withdrawal and acceptance of principle of reunification resulting from freely expressed will of people in both NVN and SVN.
Y should note that suspension of bombing of DRV is now in (Blank) day from its origin on December 24 and note the complete absence of private Hanoi responses in words or deeds and reiterated public negative statements issued by DRV during suspension. Taking care to avoid any implication of an ultimatum, Y should note that unilateral restraint by USG cannot continue indefinitely without clear affirmative response of some kind by Hanoi which would give us basis for continuing present suspension or taking further actions leading towards peaceful solution.
Y has been advised that Rupert told recent French visitor (FYI: Director of Center of American Studies (CHEA), who may use story in CHEA newsletter) that DRV is ready to participate in, but not initiate, an [Page 46] international conference taking into consideration 1954 and 1962 Geneva Accords and attempting to establish basis for lasting Indo-China peace. Could Rupert confirm whether this is correct statement of his views, which would be of interest to USG?
Y should be aware Rupert also reported in same contact to have insisted negotiations be preceded by complete “cessation of hostilities” though not US troop withdrawal. Since cessation of hostilities involves numerous pitfalls, Y should not refer to that as reported condition of Rupertʼs but be alert to report any such qualification. If pressed Y could note without amplification US Point 5: “a cessation of hostilities could be the first order of business at a conference or could be subject of preliminary discussion.”
If Rupert criticizes USG spokesman statement that it is a “safe deduction” that there has been a direct US–DRV contact,8Y should respond that this minimal admission, which USG has been careful not to expand on, was necessitated by Pham Van Dongʼs flat statement for publication to Professor Lynd in Hanoi earlier this month that there had been no such contact.9

Comment: We are concerned by Rupertʼs increasing contact with French and now US newsmen in preference to contact with Y. We believe he may be building record for use against us in charging openings which we have not taken advantage of following resumption of bombing of DRV.10

Re your 3914, you are authorized to give [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] Chief on purely personal basis minimum knowledge of this operation you think desirable. We have spoken here with Helms who will advise [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] Chief that he should discuss with you or McBride knowledge that comes to his attention regarding this operation. You should file his reports directly bearing on XYZ contacts with Rupert through XYZ channel. Other contacts relating to Mai Van Bo he may file through his regular channel, but when in doubt on these types of reports, should consult with you or McBride who will have discretion on deciding on appropriate channel. As practical [Page 47] matter, however, reports on Boʼs contacts, such as those relating to “mandated” representative or discussion with CHEA Director, should be filed preferably through XYZ channels only, in order that we can appropriately funnel them promptly into consideration of XYZ operation.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 27–14 VIET/XYZ. Secret; Immediate; Nodis-XYZ. Drafted by Read, Springsteen, and William Bundy and approved by Ball.
  2. In telegram 3913, January 11, Bohlen discussed Mai Van Boʼs (“Rupertʼs”) considerable interest in encouraging intermediaries other than Sturm (“Y”), including the contacts reported by Bohlen in telegrams 3897 and 3912, January 10 and 11. Bohlen proposed that Sturm seek another appointment with Mai Van Bo. (All ibid.)
  3. In telegram 3914, January 11, Bohlen proposed informing [text not declassified] Paris about the XYZ operation. (Ibid.)
  4. See Foreign Relations, 1964–1968, vol. III, p. 371, footnote 6.
  5. Vo Van Sung. See Document 4 regarding the designation of Vo Van Sung as “Jean.”
  6. This message was reported in telegram 3897 from Paris, January 10. (Department of State, Central Files, POL 27–14 VIET/XYZ)
  7. See Document 4.
  8. At a White House press briefing on January 10, Bill Moyers stated that Staughton Lynd and two associates were “incompletely informed” in asserting that the United States had failed to make direct contact with the North Vietnamese Government (see footnote 5, Document 14). Asked whether a conclusion could thus be drawn that there had been direct contact, Moyers stated: “Thatʼs a safe deduction.” (The New York Times, January 11, 1966)
  9. See footnote 5, Document 14.
  10. Telegram 3992 from Paris, January 13, reported on Yʼs meeting on January 13 with Jean (rather than Rupert, who indicated he was “too busy” to receive Y). Y made the points outlined in his instructions, but for the most part the “conversation consisted of little more than dropping letters in mailbox.” Nevertheless, “Jean on surface seemed friendly,” and “one cannot avoid the thought that this is the end of a very long line leading to Hanoi.” (Department of State, Central Files, POL 27–14 VIET/XYZ)