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

3243. From Kissinger. I have some concern over the message I have been asked to transmit to Bo.2 As I understand it, the purpose of the present effort is to determine whether Hanoi would be willing to enter productive negotiations if we stop bombing and other military activities against the North. In my view, the exchange with Hanoi should therefore, focus on this essential proposition. I am afraid that the last [Page 794]three sentences of the proposed message will enable Hanoi to confuse the issue by introducing a whole list of irrelevant considerations such as the Hanoi view of the elections, the legitimacy of the Saigon government, the fact that Hanoi is not responsible for the actions of the people of SVN, its rejection of the term “terrorist” and so on.

I would therefore propose that the third paragraph of the message be replaced by the following:

“As a demonstration of its good faith and in order to create the best atmosphere for the consideration of its proposal the United States voluntarily undertook not to bomb Hanoi from August 25 onward—the day on which its proposal was submitted to Hanoi. This restraint has been maintained even though activities by opposing forces in the South have in fact been stepped up since August 25.

The August 25 proposal of the United States Government remains open.”

I could then make the points of the original version in my oral commentary.3

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 7:49 a.m.
  2. See Document 318.
  3. According to a notation on a memorandum from Rostow transmitting a copy of this telegram to the President, September 13, 10 a.m., Johnson approved Kissinger’s recommended change. (Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Vietnam, Pennsylvania (continued))