246. Memorandum From the Ambassador at Large (Harriman) to President Johnson and Secretary of State Rusk 1

SUBJECT

  • “Negotiations Committee”

We have been reviewing for some weeks the advisability of a broad offer of amnesty and reconciliation to the NLF/VC by Prime Minister Ky. Because of the outstanding success of the election and moderately encouraging [Page 661] reports of decline in morale of the VC, we believe that the time has come for such an offer. Lodge is in agreement and has undertaken to talk to Ky and his principal colleagues at an early propitious moment.

A draft speech of reconciliation and amnesty to be delivered by Ky has been sent to Lodge for his comment.2 It covers three areas. The first deals with the economic, political and military progress during the past year. The second offers amnesty and reconciliation to all VC who are ready to put aside their arms. It also expresses Kyʼs willingness to talk to leaders of the NLF/VC as a group to achieve national reconciliation. The third states the GVNʼs war and peace aims.

November 1 has been suggested as the most advantageous date as it is the anniversary of the 1963 revolution, and Ky made a significant speech on that occasion last year. I had favored an earlier date and Lodge is considering whether that is possible, though there are a number of preliminary actions to be taken. Lodge has accepted our offer to send a two or three man team from Washington to help work out the plans.

Averell
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Vietnam, box 212, Amb Harriman—Negotiations Comm. Secret. The source text is marked with an indication that the President saw the memorandum.
  2. The draft speech was transmitted in telegram 52727, September 22. (Department of State, Central Files, POL 27 VIET S) The speech was discussed at a meeting of the Negotiations Committee on September 23. A memorandum of the meeting is ibid., S/S-Vietnam Briefing Books: Lot 70 D 207, Negotiation.