107. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassies in Vietnam, Korea, Australia, the Philippines, New Zealand, and Thailand1

155315. Following is text of Aide-Mémoire handed Amb. Goldberg by Secretary-General, March 14, 1967:2

Begin Text

On many occasions in the past the Secretary General of the United Nations has expressed his very great concern about the conflict in Vietnam. That concern is intensified by the growing fury of the war resulting in the corresponding loss of life, indescribable suffering and misery of the people, appalling devastation of the country, uprooting of society, astronomical sums spent on the war and last but not least, his deepening anxiety over the increasing threat to the peace of the world. For these reasons, in the past three years or so, he submitted ideas and proposals to the parties primarily involved in the war with a view to creating conditions congenial for negotiations which unhappily have not been accepted by the parties. The prospects for peace seem to be as distant today than ever before.

Nevertheless, the Secretary General reasserts his conviction that a cessation of the bombing of North Vietnam continues to be a vital need, for moral and humanitarian reasons and also because it is the step which could lead the way to meaningful talks to end the war.

The situation being as it is today, the Secretary General has now in mind proposals envisaging three steps:

A general standstill truce
Preliminary talks
Reconvening of the Geneva Conference

In the view of the Secretary General, a halt to all military activities by all sides is a practical necessity, if useful negotiations are to be undertaken. Since the Secretary General’s three-point plan has not been accepted by the parties, he believes that a general standstill truce by all parties to the conflict is now the only course which could lead to fruitful negotiations. It must be conceded that a truce without effective supervision is apt to be breached from time to time by one side or another, [Page 246] but an effective supervision of truce, at least for the moment, seems difficult to envisage as a practical possibility. If the parties directly involved in the conflict are genuinely motivated by considerations of peace and justice, it is only to be expected that earnest effort must be exerted to enforce the truce to the best of their ability. Should a public appeal by the Secretary General in his personal capacity facilitate the observance of such a truce, he would gladly be prepared to do so. Appeals to that effect by a group of countries would also be worthy of consideration.

Once the appeal has been made and a general standstill truce comes into effect, the parties directly involved in the conflict should take the next step of entering into preliminary talks. While these talks are in progress, it is clearly desirable that the general standstill truce will continue to be observed. In the view of the Secretary General these talks can take any of the following forms:

Direct talks between the United States of America and the Democratic Republic of Vietnam
Direct talks between the two Governments mentioned in (1) above, with the participation of the two Co-Chairmen of the Geneva Conference of 1954
Direct talks between the two Governments mentioned in (1) with the participation of the members of the International Control Commission
Direct talks between the two Governments mentioned in (1), with the participation of the two Co-Chairmen of the Geneva Conference of 1954 and of the members of the International Control Commission.

The Secretary General believes that these preliminary talks should aim at reaching an agreement on the modalities for the reconvening of the General Conference, with the sole purpose of returning to the essentials of that Agreement as repeatedly expressed by all parties to the conflict. These preliminary talks should seek to reach agreement on the time, place, agenda and participants in the subsequent formal meeting—the reconvening of the Geneva Conference. The Secretary General deems it necessary to stress that the question of participants in the formal negotiations should not obstruct the way to settlement. It is a question which could be solved only by agreeing that no fruitful talks on ending the war in Vietnam could take place without involving all those who are actually fighting. Since the Government in Saigon as well as the National Front of Liberation of South Vietnam are actually engaged in military operations, it is the view of the Secretary General that a future formal conference could not usefully discuss the effective termination of all military activities and the new political situation that would result in South Vietnam without the participation of representatives of the Government of Saigon and representatives of the National Front of Liberation of South Vietnam.

[Page 247]

In transmitting these proposals to the parties directly concerned, the Secretary General believes that he is acting within the limits of his good offices, purely in his private capacity. He hopes that the divergent positions held by the parties both on the nature of the conflict and the ultimate political objectives will not prevent them from giving their very serious attention to these proposals. Indeed, he takes this opportunity to appeal to them to give their urgent consideration to his proposal. End Text.

You will receive by septel interim US reply and draft final reply of USG for your consultation with GVN and allied governments.

For Seoul

Secretary Rusk gave Prime Minister Chung3 text of aide-mémoire in conversation held morning of March 15 but you may wish to duplicate with Foreign Ministry.

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 27 VIET S. Secret; Priority; Exdis. Drafted and approved by Read. Repeated to Moscow, New Delhi, Warsaw, Ottawa, and London.
  2. U Thant asked the Indian Government to convey this aide-mémoire directly to Hanoi. (Telegram 4434 from USUN, March 16; ibid.) The Department of State publicly released the message on March 28.
  3. Chong Il-Kwon, Prime Minister of the Republic of Korea.