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

98754. Ref: State 97930.2

If a meeting with North Vietnamese is arranged, you should proceed in accordance with instructions contained in State 962353 and State 957114 except as modified below. As regards the presentation to the North Vietnamese representative of our position, you should follow closely the following formulation:
  • “a. Lewandowski has informed us of his discussions with your government in Hanoi and of the position he communicated to them as that of the US, based on Lewandowskiʼs prior oral discussions with Ambassador Lodge in Saigon. We assume that his discussions in Hanoi were conducted entirely orally as they were with Lodge in Saigon and that no pieces of paper have been exchanged which purport to state government positions. We are prepared to enter into direct discussions with your government on the basis of the position which Lewandowski has informed us he presented to your government in Hanoi.
  • b. The position was stated to us by Lewandowski as follows: (Here you should read the ten points as contained in State 97930, para 8 with the additional point about bombing covered under Point 8).
  • c. We wish to emphasize that this language is that of Lewandowski and not that of the United States. Nevertheless it presents a general statement of the US position on the basis of which we would be prepared to enter into direct discussions.”
FYI. The North Vietnamese and perhaps the Poles as well appear to be seeking a reformulation of our position in order to compare it with what Lewandowski has said. While we are entirely prepared to have Lewandowskiʼs formulation stand as “presenting a general statement of the US position”, we are anxious to avoid a restatement of our position in our own words because (a) this would oblige us to take some harder [Page 915] positions than those put forward by Lewandowski which apparently have gone far enough to make the North Vietnamese ready to consider talking with us and (b) any formulation which can be attributed directly to us could be used to embarrass the GVN or to embarrass us in our relating with them. In other words, if we stand on Lewandowskiʼs formulation through the first step in discussions with the North Vietnamese, we can always say with regard to any specific point that we donʼt accept just those words used by Lewandowski and thus maintain some room for maneuver at least until we know the discussions are really under way. End FYI.
After reading the ten points you should point out to the North Vietnamese that some matters, because of their complexity and the danger of varying interpretation, would be the subject of further elaboration by us as soon as discussions were to get under way. One of these has to do with the package agreement containing the so-called phases A and B with respect to bombing and a program of de-escalation. The second relates to certain points which directly involve matters of basic concern to the people of South Viet-Nam (as for example points 2 and 5). Whatever detailed arrangements are made on those matters would have to be acceptable to the South Vietnamese people, however this could be ascertained through consultations and negotiations there.
If the North Vietnamese refer to the earlier point made by us that several specific points are subject to important differences of interpretation, you should explain that this is not intended to suggest that the statement as it stands is any less a general statement of the US position but rather that it is inevitable with matters as complex and controversial as those covered in the ten points that they would be subject to interpretation and that their clarification would be the normal function of the discussions which we hope we will be embarking on. If the North Vietnamese press for an illustration you might refer to the phrase “long-term” in Point 3, noting that it was specifically to clarify this point that the Manila Communique specified a six-month period.
Otherwise you should be guided in your discussion with the North Vietnamese by the limitations set forth in para 6 of State 97930, stressing that further discussion of substantive questions should be the subject of the actual direct negotiations which we hope can be got under way promptly.
In conclusion you should say that your government is prepared to enter into secret discussions with the North Vietnamese Government at any time and we regard this as a mater of the highest importance and urgency.
We understand from your latest reports that the next step, if all goes well, will be the opening of the direct discussions with the North Vietnamese and if this in fact materializes you should avoid any further [Page 916] substantive discussions with the Poles. We, of course, are anxious for direct and private discussions with the North Vietnamese and hope that the Poles have no idea of participating therein.
Have just received your 13945 and will reply soonest. Meanwhile, if the Poles reopen the question of our position, before an answer is received from Hanoi you may tell them that you have now consulted with Washington and are prepared to confirm to the North Vietnamese Government the position of the US with respect to negotiations in terms which will be consistent with the discussions which Lewandowski has had with them and with us. You may add that we are looking forward to an early opening of talks with the North Vietnamese in order to reduce the possibilities of leaks and resulting publicity which none of us desires.
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 27–14 VIET/MARIGOLD. Top Secret; Priority; Nodis; Marigold. Drafted by Unger; cleared by Rostow, Thompson, and McNamara; and approved by Katzenbach. Printed in part in Herring, Secret Diplomacy of the Vietnam War, pp 286–288.
  2. Document 331.
  3. Telegram 96235 to Warsaw, December 3, stated that Gronouski could make initial contact with the North Vietnamese if security permitted. However, the Department of State indicated continuing concern over someone at Gronouskiʼs level carrying on extended discussions without discovery. (Department of State, Central Files, POL 27–14 VIET/MARIGOLD)
  4. Document 325.
  5. Document 332.