272. Note From the Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs (Bundy) to Members of the Department of State Negotiations Committee1

I have drafted the attached possible instruction to Henry Kissinger for his trip to Paris.2 I suggest that Mr. Cooper be the focal point for comment and the preparation of a final draft by tonight or tomorrow morning. Kissinger comes to Washington tomorrow and will be leaving early next week.

The attached draft follows closely the independent suggestions of Gene Rostow. It is his feeling, as it is mine, that we do not wish—at least at this stage—either to endorse the Kissinger suggestion on what would be required to stop the bombing, or to be drawn into this subject through this rather tenuous channel. Instead, I believe we should take the more limited line stated in the draft, which I believe is entirely adequate to see if in fact this is a real channel that the North Vietnamese wish to use.

With this limited message, my own feeling is that Chet Cooper should not go to Paris personally. I think this would tend to dramatize things beyond what they presently deserve, and above all there is nothing of great substance in the present message, which would require his elaboration.

A part of my feeling, in drafting along these lines, arises from what I understand to have been a clear reaction at high levels yesterday—that the “no change in reinforcement” formula put to Pham Van Dong by the Frenchmen is not in fact an acceptable trade. This judgment is of course basic to our choice of approach. Another added element is [Page 678]the biographic data on Aubrac, which to me is quite unmistakable as to his political orientation.3

William P. Bundy4
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, S–AH Files: Lot 71 D 461, Kissinger Project. Secret; Exdis. This Committee included Harriman, William Jorden of the NSC Staff, Philip Habib, Heyward Isham, and Harriman’s assistants Cooper and Daniel I. Davidson.
  2. Not printed. Bundy’s draft message, written on August 8, repeated a message contained in a memorandum from Eugene Rostow to Harriman, August 7, which proposed that Aubrac and Marcovich request on behalf of the U.S. Government that representatives of the United States and North Vietnam meet secretly in a third country such as Laos. Bundy’s emphasis on caution in pursuing the Kissinger initiative received support from Heyward Isham of the Vietnam Working Group, who in an August 10 memorandum to Cooper warned that as a result of recent diplomatic activity, “We are now in some danger of having a proliferation of channels to Hanoi.” (Ibid.)
  3. In the background message preceding the draft message, Bundy asserted that Aubrac was a Communist, and suggested that any message sent through Paris be given only to Marcovich.
  4. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.