255. Memorandum From the President’s Special Assistant (Rostow) to President Johnson1

Mr. President:

Herewith the report on Clifford-Taylor talks with Thieu-Ky.2

It includes:

  • —Reaffirmation of prompt 65,000 Vietnamese military manpower increase.
  • —Thang’s request that we stop publicly criticizing pacification (problem is really inadequate ARVN security performance, not Thang’s effort with special cadres, etc.).
  • Ky’s suggestion of pre-summit foreign ministers’ meeting in Saigon and that Australia be considered for summit site.
  • Ky’s recommendation that summit be held in late October or November.
  • Bui Diem’s suggestion that Vietnamese assume some responsibility for asking for additional troops—and not leave job wholly up to U.S.

In addition, there is reference to a critical point for the future. Do, the Foreign Minister, notes that without a strong Vietnamese party structure, the NLF cannot be invited to shift from organized war to organized politics: they would be a “Trojan horse.” When peace comes, the Communists certainly will take an organized role in politics, legally or otherwise; and, at the right time, the offer to do so may be helpful to a settlement.

Therefore, the build up of a large national non-Communist party in South Vietnam remains essential for political stability.

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Vietnam, Manila Nations Conference, Clifford-Taylor Trip, Aug. 1967. Secret; Nodis. A notation “L” on the memorandum indicates that the President saw it.
  2. Not printed. It is a retyped copy of telegram 1871 from Saigon, July 25, which reported on the meeting that day of Clifford, Taylor, Bunker, Westmoreland, and other officers of the Embassy with Thieu, Ky, and their principal advisers.