285. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Vietnam1

22135. 1. Please deliver following Presidential letter to General Thieu as soon as possible.

[Page 701]

“Dear General Thieu:

Clark Clifford and General Taylor have informed me of their useful discussions with you and your colleagues during their recent visit to Viet-Nam. They have also informed me of the conversations they have had with our other allies in Thailand, Australia, New Zealand and Korea. As you know they were unable to visit the Philippines at this time. I am writing you now to share with you the information they have brought back and to let you have my suggestions on future courses of events.

Mr. Clifford and General Taylor reported that the leaders of each of the countries they visited remain united in their determination to proceed with the war in South Viet-Nam in as vigorous a way as possible. The leaders believe that the pressure against Hanoi and the Viet Cong must be maintained and increased, and they all agreed in principle that additional contributions from all countries will be needed to bring a successful end to the war. No specific commitments were made, but allied nations all agreed to examine urgently and most sympathetically the additional steps that they would be able to take to assist your government and people to defeat the communist aggressors. The decision of the South Vietnamese Government to increase its armed forces by 65,000 men was particularly heartening to them.

I have now presented to the Congress my proposal for imposing a surtax of 10% on the American people to help finance the war in Viet-Nam. We have also announced an additional 45,000 troops for commitment to the fight in South Viet-Nam.2 The response of our Asian allies in this struggle will be of great importance to me in persuading the Congress and the American people that these additional sacrifices are part of the common effort to defeat aggression.

Messrs. Clifford and Taylor also discussed with the leaders of our allies the desirability of another summit conference. All agreed that another conference before the end of this year is desirable, but felt that a specific decision on the timing and site should await the conclusion of the important elections to be held in South Viet-Nam.

In this regard my emissaries found in each country great interest in the forthcoming elections in your country. The leaders of our allies were unanimous in their belief that a broadly representative government chosen with wide participation by the South Vietnamese people in free and fair elections will have incalculable value in increasing support for South Viet-Nam among the people in the allied countries as well as throughout the world. I want you to know that such elections will be of tremendous importance to me also in maintaining and increasing [Page 702]support among the American people and in the Congress for increased assistance to your country in its valiant struggle.

I wish to express my appreciation for the courtesies extended to my emissaries, Mr. Clifford and General Taylor. They have been most complimentary in their comments on the reception given them by you and your colleagues. I am highly gratified at the frank and forthright discussions that took place, and am confident that they have contributed to an even closer relationship and understanding between our two countries.

I hope the views in this letter are useful to you and your colleagues and I would be glad to receive your views about any of the matters discussed.

With best regards to yourself and your colleagues and in continuing admiration of the bravery of your people, I am

Sincerely, Lyndon B. Johnson”

2. Signed original being pouched.

Rusk
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 27 VIET S. Secret; Immediate; Exdis. Drafted at the White House and approved by Francis J. Meehan of S/S.
  2. This augmentation of U.S. forces in Vietnam was disclosed when the President’s budget plan with a 10 percent surcharge on the tax liabilities of corporations and individuals was submitted to Congress on August 3. See American Foreign Policy: Current Documents, 1967, pp. 14–16, 948.