127. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in the Soviet Union 1

169339. Literally Eyes Only for Ambassador Thompson. Please arrange delivery to DRV mission Moscow by means you consider best suited to maximize chances of early transmission to Hanoi following letter from President to Ho:2

Begin Text:

His Excellency Ho Chi Minh, President, Democratic Republic of Vietnam.

Dear Mr. President:

I was, of course, disappointed that you did not feel able to respond positively to my letter to you of February 8.3

But I would recall to you the words Abraham Lincoln addressed to his fellow Americans in 1861:

“Suppose you go to war, you cannot fight always; and when, after much loss on both sides, and no gain on either, you cease fighting, the identical old questions as to terms of intercourse are again upon you.”

In that spirit I wish to reaffirm the offers I made in my earlier letter. We remain prepared to talk quietly with your representatives to establish the terms of a peaceful settlement and then bring the fighting to a stop; or we are prepared to undertake steps of mutual de-escalation which might make it easier for discussions of a peaceful settlement to take place. Talks to either of these ends could take place in Moscow, Rangoon, or elsewhere.

Despite public discussion of our previous exchange of views, our responsibilities to our own peoples and to the world remain; and those responsibilities include bringing the war in Southeast Asia to an end at the earliest possible date.

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It is surely clear that one day we must agree to reestablish and make effective the Geneva Accords of 1954 and 1962; let the people of South Viet Nam determine in peace the kind of government they want; let the peoples of North and South Viet Nam determine peacefully whether and how they should unite; and permit the peoples of Southeast Asia to turn all their energies to their economic and social development.

You and I will be judged in history by whether we worked to bring about this result sooner rather than later.

I venture to address you directly again in the hope that we can find the way to rise above all other considerations and fulfill that common duty. I would be glad to receive your views on these matters.

Sincerely, Lyndon B. Johnson, April 6, 1967. End Text.

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 14 VIET S. Secret; Exdis. Received at 8:09 a.m.
  2. Document 125.
  3. See Document 82.