259. Memorandum of Meeting1

PARTICIPANTS

  • Mr. E. Rostow
  • Gov. Harriman
  • Mr. Hughes
  • Mr. Habib
  • Mr. Read
  • Mr. Cooper

Mr. Habib provided a run-down of the South Vietnamese elections. Habib stressed that our Mission in Saigon was well aware of the importance of a fair election, and he cited some favorable omens (such as the new Press law) which should offset the impression that the elections [Page 650]would be fixed. Habib felt that General Ky’s reference to a possible coup was another case of Ky’s poor public relations. There was a brief discussion of whether Security Chief Loan should be removed from Vietnam during the course of the election campaign; on balance, it was felt that we should not press for this.

Mr. Read and Mr. Habib described the present state of play with respect to negotiations. There was little new or solid. Many of the North Vietnamese Ambassadors who had gone to Hanoi had not yet returned to their posts. Current active channels were the contacts between the Swiss Ambassador and the North Vietnamese Ambassador in Warsaw (we will know more about this during the week);2 the possible reestablishment of the contact between the Japanese and North Vietnamese Ambassadors in Moscow;3 and the unfinished conversation between the Norwegian and North Vietnamese Ambassadors in Peking.4 Nothing further has been heard from the two unofficial French representatives who went to Hanoi. (Cooper will pursue this with Kissinger.)5

There was some discussion with respect to the significance of the withdrawal of some North Vietnamese units into North Vietnam from the area around the DMZ. It was agreed they would prepare a suggestion to the Secretary that the Russians be queried in a low key as to the significance of the withdrawal. (I have since been informed that the Secretary had already put the question to Dobrynin in conversations during last week. As yet there has been no reply.)

Cooper gave a brief run-down on the meeting of IDA consultants at Falmouth on the barrier. He outlined a brief scenario as to how the barrier might be used in connection with negotiations.

Governor Harriman stressed the need to prepare to move forward on the negotiations front following the GVN elections. He also stressed the need to keep all contacts with the Soviets alive and active.6

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 14 VIET S. Top Secret; Exdis. Drafted by Cooper. The meeting was held in Harriman’s office.
  2. DRV Ambassador to Poland Do Phat Quang tried to find out from his Swiss counterpart what the U.S. Government was “actually thinking” about contacts with his government. (Telegram 9112 from Warsaw, July 19; ibid., POL 27 VIET S)
  3. From July 1966 through January 1967, the Japanese Ambassador in Moscow met with the DRV Ambassador to discuss a formulation to end the war in Vietnam. The contacts terminated when the DRV Ambassador left Moscow. (Telegrams 111909 and 118870 to Tokyo, January 3 and 14; both ibid., POL 27–14 VIET) With the arrival of a new DRV Ambassador in May, the U.S. Embassy attempted to re-open contacts. (Telegram 197426 to Tokyo, May 18; ibid.) In a conversation on July 10, Bundy briefed the Japanese Ambassador to the United States, Shimoda, on acceptable terms for ending the hostilities in preparation for Prime Minister Miki’s visit to Moscow (as did Kohler on July 18). (Memoranda of conversation, July 10 and 18; both ibid., POL 27 VIET S) Additional documentation on this contact is ibid., POL JAPAN–VIET N.
  4. See Document 201.
  5. See Document 263.
  6. Harriman made this suggestion to Rusk in a July 28 memorandum. (Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Harriman Papers, Special Files, Public Service, Confidential File, July 1967 General)