305. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Vietnam1

83786. Ref: Saigonʼs 10714.2

Agree you should meet with dʼOrlandi and Lewandowski. We hope this way lead to the latterʼs being able carry out useful mission in Hanoi by securing better understanding there of our position and bringing back to us some clarification North Vietnamese position, although past exchanges with Lewandowski, received thorough dʼOrlandi filter, have not yet persuaded us Pole is in a position to provide effective line of communication.
We believe your meeting Monday3 should be devoted primarily to asking questions so that we can get a better picture directly from Lewandowski of what he thinks can be accomplished through him. After we have had a chance to digest his replies, if they justify a further exchange, we will send you our more substantive suggestions immediately for an additional exchange with him prior to his departure for Hanoi.
These are queries to be put to Lewandowski:
What role does he envisage for himself? Is he, on the one hand, seeking merely to facilitate a better understanding on each side of the otherʼs position in order to pave way toward some kind of direct contact, and, if so, does he have reason to believe Hanoi will agree to such contact? Or, on the other hand, does he contemplate serving as an intermediary, conveying a series of proposals and counterproposals between two sides to try to achieve agreement on specific issues?
What does Hanoi consider to be his role? Has Hanoi entrusted specific messages to him and, if so, to whom were they to be conveyed?
As we understand it, Lewandowski wants an overall agreement and says Hanoi will buy something that is “final,” he doesnʼt want a truce just to “allow conversations.” How does he propose to get from here to there? How would he envisage overcoming our considerable reluctance to modify our position on one point or another without having any indication of what if any helpful response this would evoke from Hanoi?
We understand that considerations of face inevitably play a role in Hanoiʼs thinking. Does this perhaps explain, in Lewandowskiʼs view, [Page 839] why we are unable to get any meaningful response to the question “what would happen if the bombing on NVN stopped?” Does Lewandowski see any way around this? Could some package deal be worked out which in its totality represented what both we and Hanoi would agree to as a reasonable measure of mutual de-escalation, but which would have two separate phases in its execution. Phase A would be a bombing suspension, while Phase B, which would follow after some adequate period, would see the execution of all the other agreed de-escalatory actions. Hanoiʼs actions taken in Phase B would appear to be in response to our actions in Phase B rather than to the bombing suspension.
Lewandowski should understand that none of the foregoing represents a position which he is authorized to put to Hanoi on our behalf. We will review his replies to our questions and will then wish to determine what we wish to propose concerning his forthcoming visit to Hanoi.
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 27–14 VIET/MARIGOLD. Top Secret; Immediate; Nodis; Marigold. Drafted by Unger and approved by Rusk. Printed in part in Herring, Secret Diplomacy of the Vietnam War, pp. 263–264.
  2. In telegram 10741 from Saigon, November 13, Lodge indicated that he had agreed to meet with DʼOrlandi and Lewandowski on November 14 and would appreciate any further guidance the Department might have. (Ibid.)
  3. November 14.