276. Memorandum From the Director of the Office of Research and Analysis for East Asia and the Pacific, Bureau of Intelligence and Research (Greene) to the Director of the Bureau of Intelligence and Research (Hughes)1

SUBJECT

  • Comments on Recent Discussions with NVN Officials Regarding Negotiations

In the past month there have been two contacts with NVN officials, one by two private French citizens and one by a Norwegian diplomat, which Hanoi may take to be authoritative representations of the US position because we have dealt with North Vietnam through “unofficial” or indirect channels in the past. In both encounters the North [Page 686]Vietnamese heard descriptions of an American position which, taken together, could lead them to conclude that Washington has begun to modify its previous stand regarding negotiations.

In the first instance, in late July, the Frenchmen told Pham Van Dong that the US would be prepared to stop the bombing provided that Hanoi kept its level of supply to the South at present levels and did not intensify its efforts as it had done in past bombing pauses.2 Then, around the beginning of August, the Norwegian Ambassador to Peking informed his North Vietnamese counterpart that, on the question of representation during negotiations, the US would be prepared to have the NLF present its points of view either as part of the NVN delegation “or as a separate group.”3 This American position might have been inferred in Hanoi from previous public and private statements by US officials, but it does not appear to have been stated this explicitly before.

The North Vietnamese may treat both statements skeptically, since they were not made by American officials. Equally, however, they may conclude that we are reviewing our basic approach and are undertaking to define a new position on specific points, while carefully coordinating the component aspects of this effort. They may link this possible shift on our part to their own negotiating gambits, especially the apparent easing of their position regarding the degree of completeness and permanence of bombing pause and the muffling of earlier emphasis on an exclusive position of the NLF as our interlocutor on matters concerning the South. They may as a consequence want to probe further, to determine whether our position has changed, and if so to what degree.

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 27–14 VIET/PENNSYLVANIA. Secret; Exdis. A copy was sent to Bundy.
  2. See Document 263.
  3. The conversation between Algard and Loan on August 5 is described in telegram 664 from Oslo, August 6. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 17 NOR–VIET N)