310. Telegram From the Embassy in France to the Department of State1

3070. From Kissinger.

After the Thursday evening meeting2 I phoned M from Washington and asked him to request A to return to Paris. My reason was to give M a pretext for recontacting Bo—though I did not suggest it—and to balance M’s naive humanitarianism with some political knowledge. Also I wanted A to lend his weight to any message to Bo.

I saw M and A within an hour of my arrival. (A arrived in Paris half an hour after I did.) M began the conversation by telling me that he had seen Bo on Friday Sept 8. He had called him after my phone call and received an appointment within 15 minutes. He had informed Bo of my request that A return to Paris. In his characteristic naive manner M told Bo that A and he would vouch for me but that he knew me for only 5 years. Therefore if Bo wanted additional reassurance perhaps Millionshikov could be invited to come to Paris and verify the origin of the Hanoi mission. Bo who was extremely affable throughout rejected this proposal. He said that the existing channel of M, A and K was quite satisfactory. Moreover there was a great need for secrecy and for this reason the number of people involved should be kept to an absolute minimum. Bo then asked how long I planned to stay in Paris. When M said about ten days Bo replied that if there was no bombing of Hanoi something could well happen in that period. As M was leaving Bo said that Pugwash had served as a useful pretext to start the conversations but that it was now necessary to keep the info to the smallest group possible. (These remarks which run so counter to M’s instincts have dampened his ardor for informing the Continuing Committee of Pugwash.)

A then asked me why I had requested him to return to Paris. I replied that I wanted to be blunt. For the last 10 days A and M had presented very forceful arguments about the bombing of Hanoi on August 21, 22 and 23 and the need to continue existing restraints. I did not agree with many of these views and I was convinced that the bombing on August 21, 22 and 23 was the result of technical military judgments [Page 765]unrelated to the current proposal. Nevertheless I had transmitted their views as fairly as possible to our responsible officials. Now it seemed to me they had an obligation to present our case to the other side with equal force. From the Washington perspective it appears that a major American initiative has simply been ignored. Nor is this an isolated instance. Our officials have gained the impression that communication with Hanoi is a oneway street. We would not be asked to exercise unilateral restraints over a prolonged period without any signal from Hanoi about our overture. M asked whether Washington would “stand by” during the ten days of my visit here. I replied that Washington was still waiting for some reply to the message of August 25.

A then intervened to say that he thought an early meeting between Bo and me was essential so that Hanoi could send a reply while I was still in Paris. He proposed to call Bo immediately in my presence to set up an appointment for A and M. (Note: A had arrived 30 minutes after I did so that any prearrangement would have had to be by long distance phone.) A then called Bo who came to the telephone immediately. A said he had had a long and very important conversation with me and wanted to see Bo, Bo suggested they come immediately. M remembered that his wife was expecting A and M for lunch so the appointment was set for 14:30 Paris time. I shall see A and M at 16:00 and report immediately.3

(Note: If I leave my apartment I shall inform the Embassy duty officer of a phone contact.)

Bohlen
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 27–14 VIET/PENNSYLVANIA. Top Secret; Flash; Nodis; Pennsylvania. Received at 11:07 a.m.
  2. Rusk met with Bundy, Read, and Kissinger at 11:10 p.m. on Thursday, September 7. (Johnson Library, Rusk Appointment Book, 1967) For Kissinger’s instructions, see Document 307.
  3. In telegram 3072 from Paris, September 9, Kissinger reported that Marcovich had stressed that the administration was “growing impatient” because the North Vietnamese had failed to respond to the August 25 message. Bo replied that the message remained under study. In addition to the reply, he was also awaiting authorization for a direct meeting with Kissinger. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 27–14 VIET/PENNSYLVANIA)