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

3242. From Kissinger. I saw M at breakfast and told him that I had a reply to Hanoi’s message which I had been instructed to deliver to Bo personally. M replied that every time I brought a message we bombed the center of a North Vietnamese city.2 If this happened one more time he was no longer prepared to serve as channel. I told him [Page 795]that the target decisions were based on technical judgments and meteorological conditions. The only useful discussion seemed to me to be an end of all bombing which we have offered rather than a debate over individual tactical targets.

Nevertheless in view of M’s state of mind and in order to give the greatest degree of formality to the request for an interview with Bo I told M that I would give him a personal message from me to Bo. This seemed to me to have the added advantage that Bo could transmit a specific request to Hanoi rather than his interpretation of M’s interpretation of my words. The text of the message in English and French was given to M in a sealed envelope on plain paper and unsigned.

In English and in French the text of the message is as follows:

English text:

I have a reply from the United States Government to the Hanoi message which was received on Monday.3 I have also been given a commentary on this message. Because of the importance of the United States reply and because the commentary refers to other discussions with Hanoi which we have promised not to reveal I have been instructed to deliver it personally. I am available for a meeting at any time and at any place which is convenient to Mr. Mai Van Bo.

[Here follows the French text of the same message.]

M called Bo immediately and received an appointment within half an hour. I shall see him immediately afterwards around 1200 Paris time.

I did not tell M of our “fall-back” position that he could deliver the message if Bo refuses to see me in order to create a maximum incentive for a personal meeting. If Bo refuses to see me, I shall tell M that I must ask for new instructions. After a suitable interval I shall then give him the message to transmit to Bo.

To prepare for this contingency I have asked M to request A to return to Paris. His political savvy will be helpful if recourse to the French channel becomes necessary.

Bohlen
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 27–14 VIET/PENNSYLVANIA. Secret; Flash; Nodis/Pennsylvania. Received at 7:57 a.m.
  2. Campha and Haiphong were bombed during the previous 2 days.
  3. September 11.