329. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Poland1

97016. Ref: Your 1363.2 You should tell Rapacki we believe we have gone quite far in stating our position without anything directly or indirectly from the other side other than the monotonous repetition of their four points. Lewandowskiʼs statement to Lodge was an oral one and we presume this was also true of his contact with Hanoi. The points he described covered matters of great complexity and of the highest importance. They were, moreover, stated in very general terms and subject to the imprecision of multiple translation. We might expose ourselves to charges of bad faith in any subsequent negotiations if we did not make clear that there is a wide latitude for interpretation of the general language used by Lewandoski.

Lewandowskiʼs formulation broadly reflects the position of the US Government on the issues covered and we would be prepared to accept it as the basis for direct discussions with the North Vietnamese if they are in fact interested in pursuing the matter, and if they are informed that latitude for interpretation of such general language is inevitable.

We greatly appreciate the personal interest and efforts of the Foreign Minister and it is for this reason that we wish to avoid any possible misunderstandings on matters of highest importance.3

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 27–14 VIET/MARIGOLD. Top Secret; Immediate; Nodis; Marigold. Drafted by Katzenbach, cleared by Rostow, and approved by Katzenbach. Repeated to Saigon for Lodge and to Tokyo for Rusk.
  2. Document 327.
  3. In telegram 1375 from Warsaw, December 6, Gronouski reported on the discussion that ensued after he conveyed the contents of telegram 97016 to Rapacki at a meeting on December 6. Rapacki disagreed with the U.S. position regarding “room for interpretation” but indicated that he would transmit the information to Hanoi. Rapacki and Gronouski then discussed the substance of the first U.S.-NVN meeting, should it take place. (Department of State, Central Files, POL 27–14 VIET/MARIGOLD; printed in part in Herring, Secret Diplomacy of the Vietnam War, pp. 275–277)