17. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in the Soviet Union1

120058. 1. In conversation with Harriman last night, Dobrynin said he understood that our order concerning bombing within ten nautical miles of the center of Hanoi still stood on an indefinite basis. Harriman challenged this and said that while we were continuing the order for the present, we did not consider ourselves bound to do so indefinitely. Dobrynin asked for clarification, stating that he believed Moscow understood it in this sense, based on Bundy disclosure to Zinchuk on December 27 of proposal made in Warsaw on December 24.2 (This of course was prior to negative response through Polish channel on December 29.)3

2. We are informing Dobrynin quietly here that negative response of December 29 in Warsaw necessarily meant that we did not feel ourselves bound to maintain the order indefinitely. At the same time, we were continuing the order for the present and watching developments closely.

3. Your instructions on Vietnam also discuss the possibility of secret talks with DRV and indicate we have had no reply. In light of latest developments, we believe you should say that we as yet have no clear indication of DRV willingness for such talks. We simply cannot guess whether DRV has informed Soviets of our message or their latest reply, and we believe it best to protect ourselves from any charge of disclosure to any party or government. If you think it wise, you might omit discussions of this point entirely while simply reiterating our willingness for direct secret talks.

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 27–14 VIET/SUNFLOWER. Top Secret; Immediate; Nodis; Sunflower. Drafted by Bundy, cleared by Harriman and Read, and approved by Rusk.
  2. See Foreign Relations, 1964–1968, vol. IV, Document 351.
  3. See ibid., Document 355.