327. Telegram From the Embassy in Poland to the Department of State1

1363. Department pass at its discretion to Saigon.2 Ref: State 96235.3 For the President and Secretary.

I was called to FornMin 11:30 a.m. Dec. 5 by DirGen Michalowski who, after determing that I knew what meeting was about, took me in to see FornMin Rapacki.
Rapacki remarked that Poles are again trying to play constructive role in ending Viet Nam war and expressed hope and wish that this attempt will bear fruit.
Rapacki then recounted prior events, beginning with two November meetings between Lodge and Lewandowski in which Lodge expressed USG desire for political settlement and described USG attitude toward basis of peaceful settlement. Because during second talk Lodge said he was expressing not only his views but those of “decisive center of authority in Washington,” Poles have concluded that Lodge expressed official USG position.
Rapacki continued that on Dec. 1, after return of Lewandowski from Hanoi, Lewandowski had third meeting with Lodge in which he gave a resume of USG position as he had understood it from the two previous conversations. After Lodge confirmed Lewandowskiʼs resume, Lewandowski said contact of USG and North Vietnamese Ambassadors in Warsaw would have support of Poles.
Continuing his account of prior events, Rapacki said that on the afternoon of Dec. 3, at a fourth meeting between Lodge and Lewandowski, Lodge, on the basis of the Presidentʼs instructions, read a statement as follows:
The President will instruct the U.S. Embassy in Warsaw to contact the North Vietnamese Ambassador in Warsaw on Dec. 6 or as soon as possible thereafter.
The U.S. Embassy in Warsaw will be in a position on Dec. 6 to confirm to the North Vietnamese Ambassador that the Lewandowski Dec. 1 resume of the Lodge-Lewandowski conversations broadly reflects the position of the USG.
“We must add that several specific points are subject to important differences of interpretation.”
Rapacki said that Lodge was unable at the Dec. 3 meeting to precisely say which points were subject to differences of interpretation and what the nature of these differences of interpretation might be.
Rapacki then stated that question of interpretation put in doubt whole basis on which contact with North Vietnamese Ambassador in Warsaw was to have taken place. He expressed grave concern as to how equivocation will be read by Hanoi. He added that Poles must transmit USG position to NVN Govt., and that rather than a general reference to differences of interpretation it would be better if position transmitted contained statement defining differences of interpretation we have in mind. He said such a statement might have a significant effect on Hanoiʼs attitude toward both a meeting in Warsaw and the whole problem.
Rapacki then asked what can be the position of Poland in its role as intermediary if after all the conversations which were held and statements made there still remains this doubt? He asked again how this reservation will be read by Hanoi, particularly with intensification of bombing near Hanoi subsequent to the Lodge-Lewandowski conversations? He said these questions had already been raised by Lewandowski during his Dec. 3 conversation with Lodge.
Rapacki said that it would be desirable if last para of Lodgeʼs Dec. 3 statement (on differences in interpretation) had not been formulated in the first place. He suggested that this para be deleted on the basis that it was inserted as a result of misunderstandings which have now been clarified.
Rapacki said that if Poles were to transmit to Hanoi statement as read by Lodge on Dec. 3, the most favorable response that could be forseen as reaction by Hanoi is a reexamination of whole matter again from the beginning. This would mean, he added, that the contact in Warsaw would have to be postponed.
Rapacki said that Lewandowski has been asked to contact Lodge for clarification of Dec. 3 note.4 He said that the Poles are holding up conveying information to Hanoi in hopes of obtaining improved version, but observed that they have no right to delay too long conveying information to Hanoi.
Rapacki asked that I transmit to the President the Poles deep concern caused by modification of USG position which has been signaled by the Dec. 3 declaration of Mr. Lodge and his hope that para on differences [Page 904] of interpretation can be deleted on grounds that it was based on misunderstandings which have since been clarified.
I told Rapacki that I would immediately convey his concern and proposal to the President and Secretary and contact him as soon as I received a reply.
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 27–14 VIET/MARIGOLD. Top Secret; Immediate; Nodis; Marigold. The source text does not indicate a time of transmission; the telegram was received at 10:43 a.m. Printed in part in Herring, Secret Diplomacy of the Vietnam War, pp. 275–277.
  2. A note on the source text indicates the telegram was not sent to Saigon.
  3. In telegram 96235, December 3, the Department of State discussed procedures for the first contact with the North Vietnamese in Warsaw. (Department of State, Central Files, POL 27–14 VIET/MARIGOLD)
  4. Lodge reported on this meeting with Lewandowski in telegram 12601, December 6, indicating that he responded by paraphrasing telegram 97016, Document 329. (Department of State, Central Files, POL 27–14 VIET/MARIGOLD)