267. Memorandum of Meeting1


  • Mr. E. Rostow
  • Gov. Harriman
  • Mr. Sisco
  • Mr. Warnke
  • Mr. Habib
  • Mr. Read
  • Mr. Cooper

The principal subject of discussion was the Kissinger report of his conversations with Marcovich and Aubrac upon their return from Hanoi.2 There was general agreement that the conversations, as reported by Kissinger, were of considerable potential significance. Assuming that the two Frenchmen were reporting accurately (Kissinger is confident that they were), there were at least four statements made by Dong that are of particular interest, and worth further study and follow-up:

The North Vietnamese will be ready to meet secretly with the U.S.
An apparent softening of the DRV position with respect to the NLF.
A recognition that U.S. forces would have to remain in South Vietnam until after a political settlement.
A willingness to accept a “de facto” cessation of bombing.

On the other hand, it was generally agreed that much of Dong’s views would not be acceptable to us and that further hard bargaining would be necessary before we could reach agreement with Hanoi.

[Page 665]

It was decided that Kissinger should contact Marcovich and Aubrac, indicate that he had been down to Washington, had found considerable interest in their report, had assurances that their trip and their findings would be held very closely, and that arrangements would be made to pick up certain materials that they had brought back from Hanoi.

It was also agreed that Kissinger, accompanied by Cooper, would go to Paris on or about the 16th of August to meet with Marcovich, and possibly Aubrac, to discuss certain aspects of their report and possibly to pose some questions for further clarification.3 (It is assumed that Marcovich would contact Mai Van Bo after such a meeting.) It was also agreed that members of the Negotiations Committee would study Kissinger’s report closely and be prepared to discuss it in further detail at the next meeting of the Committee.

[Cooper met with Kissinger on Friday4 and agreed with him on the following: Kissinger would call Marcovich this weekend and convey the agreed-upon information; he will indicate that he and a member of Governor Harriman’s staff will be prepared to go to Paris some time in mid-August to meet with Marcovich, at which time Marcovich could turn over the film and other materials he brought back from Hanoi. Some time later next week, when Kissinger and Cooper can firm up their travel plans, Kissinger will make another call to Marcovich, arranging an appointment. It is agreed that we would aim for a meeting on the 17th of August, returning to Washington the next day.]

The Negotiations Committee also discussed the forthcoming elections in Vietnam, and agreed that Ambassador Bunker should be provided with an outline of certain aspects of the election campaign that have special significance for public reaction here. This would be supplementary to the daily press summary. A memorandum on election guideposts, prepared by Mr. Cooper, will be used by Mr. Habib as a basis for drawing up a message to the Ambassador.5

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 27–14 VIET/PENNSYLVANIA. Secret; Exdis. Drafted by Cooper. The meeting was held in Harriman’s office.
  2. See Document 263.
  3. Cooper made this suggestion in an August 3 memorandum to Harriman. (Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Harriman Papers, Subject Files, Vietnam—General, July–Dec. 1967) In an August 3 memorandum to Cooper, Fred Greene noted that while Dong had not deviated from an insistence upon linking a halt with talks, the conversations with the two Frenchmen “do offer potentially useful lines for further consideration and possible exploration.” (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 27–14 VIET/PENNSYLVANIA)
  4. July 30. Brackets in the source text.
  5. Not found.