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


  • “Negotiations Committee”

The Committee believes2 that an encouraging aspect of Gromykoʼs visit was the evident Soviet desire to have the war end in Vietnam. Another gain is that the Soviets have been put on the spot publicly as having a responsibility to get negotiations going. Sometime after our elections, which will undoubtedly confirm US support for your policy in Vietnam, consideration should be given to the next step in our dialogue with the Russians. I believe your statement to the press yesterday regarding your talks with Gromyko 3 will be given searching consideration in Moscow and perhaps provide a basis for progress in later discussions.

In Manila, we hope that you will have an opportunity to impress on Ky (as well as Lodge): (1) The importance we place on the constitutional process with the emergence of a government that has legitimate roots. This will vastly strengthen not only the position of Saigon but our own position in international discussions and world opinion. (2) We hope that in the speech which Chairman Thieu or Prime Minister Ky will deliver on November 1, the anniversary of the revolution, there will be included a declaration on amnesty and national reconciliation. You have placed great emphasis in your public statements on the fact that the people of South Vietnam should be permitted to settle their own affairs. This means that if the NLF-VC abandon violence, these people would have the opportunity to play a legitimate role in the political life of the country.4

I talked to Gene Black yesterday in New York and suggested that in his trip to the Far East, he might be able to develop more specific ideas about economic cooperation with North Vietnam on a regional basis after [Page 727] the end of the war. This would be a follow-up of your Johns Hopkins speech. Saigon for its part could offer the possibility of trade relations, especially in rice, which would be mutually beneficial and relieve Hanoiʼs dependence on Peking. Out of Geneʼs talks and the discussions at Manila could come Asian proposals that might give some inducement to Hanoi to end the war.

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Vietnam, box 212, Amb. Harriman—Negotiations Comm. Top Secret; Nodis.
  2. A memorandum of the Committeeʼs meeting at 4.30 p.m. on October 14 is in Department of State, Central Files, POL 7 PHIL.
  3. For text of the Presidentʼs statement, made during his news conference in Washington on October 13, see Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Lyndon B. Johnson, 1966, Book II, pp. 1166–1167.
  4. In a 9-page memorandum to Harriman on “The Pursuit of Peace in Manila and Elsewhere,” October 14, Cooper sought to “diagnose the reasons for Hanoiʼs sluggish responses to our overtures and to prescribe some new medicine that might produce a bit more animation.” (Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Vietnam, vol. XL)