33. Telegram From the Embassy in the Soviet Union to the Department of State1

3321. Ref: A. State 128486;2 B. Moscow 3295, para 1 P.3

Hoang Man’Tu failed call back yesterday afternoon (ref B) but phoned at 12:30 today to say Le Chang would see DCM at 14:00 today.
DCM, accompanied by Akalovsky, met with Le Chang for 50 minutes. Latter accompanied by Hoang Man’Tu and also by one Nhuyen Dinh Dhuong, who acted as English interpreter.
DCM began by making oral statement per para 2 ref State tel. Then handed Le Chang written statement.
After Huong translated text into Vietnamese (he did it twice, apparently to ensure accuracy), Le Chang inquired if DCM had any additional remarks to make.
Noting he had made such remarks at outset of meeting, DCM asked if Le Chang had any questions re message just delivered to him.
In consultation with Tu and Dhuong—apparently re exact language USG message—Le Chang raised following points.
Le Chang wishes to know what was meant in sentence noting that “DRV has broadcast publicly essence of January 27 message and asked other governments to inform us that DRV is prepared enter negotiations with USG when bombing of NVN stops without stated conditions.” Specifically, he wished to know what message being referred to and also to get more concrete information re latter part of sentence. DCM said message was one Le Chang had given him January 27; as to info re second half of sentence, said would relay question to USG. Le Chang said he could assure DCM January 27 message had not been publicized; DCM noted reference was only to “essence” of message and not to message as such. In response Le Chang’s query whether reference [Page 78] was to DRV FonMin Trinh’s interview with Burchett, DCM said this might be one of such instances but reiterated would transmit question to Washington. Le Chang said would welcome info on this point but also wished repeat January 27 message not published at all.4
Le Chang then asked for clarification second and third sentences penultimate para USG message. (“In this connection, it should be observed that cessation of bombing would lead to a world-wide assumption that talks were under way and it would become increasingly difficult hold discussions under conditions of secrecy. For this reason, we remind the DRV of the USG suggestions that the stopping of the bombing might take place as a prior and ostensibly unilateral action.”) DCM limited his response to noting that these statements would probably be clear to government in Hanoi. Added that should this not be the case, he would appreciate being informed by Le Chang. In reply to Le Chang’s question if first cited sentence means U.S. would continue bombing DRV while talks going on, DCM observed answer contained in next two sentences, which he read to Le Chang.
Le Chang asked if reference to “additional subsequent steps” etc., meant that cessation of bombings would be conditional. DCM replied he could only repeat what message said and quoted again third and fourth sentences penultimate para, stressing words “equitable and reciprocal.”
Le Chang then said would convey message to his govt and would inform us if he received any instructions. As to rejection by U.S. Govt of DRV Govt’s statements and statements he had made orally to DCM as representative U.S. Govt in USSR, asserted they in accord with facts. Contended practical deeds by U.S. Govt have shown U.S. constantly intensifying and extending aggressive war in both SVN and NVN. Proof of this were recent U.S. military operations, such as bombing and clean-up operations in SVN, as well as recent bombings of populated areas in sovereign state of DRV. Re latter, cited January 29 bombing of a village in Thanh Hoa Province, asserting it resulted in over 100 elderly civilians being killed or wounded. Le Chang alleged these actions demonstrated U.S. Govt has yet to prove its good will and said all peace and justice-loving people of world, including American people, condemn bombings of civilian population. Observing he made [Page 79] these remarks in connection USG rejection his govt’s message, reiterated would convey U.S. message to Hanoi. (Comment: From context, it clear that Le Chang referred here to DCM’s opening oral remarks and not January 27 message as a whole.)
DCM said would report Le Chang’s supplementary remarks as well.
Before parting, DCM inquired when new DRV Ambassador expected to arrive. Le Chang said “in near future.”
During phone call this noon, Tu asked who would be coming, DCM or Ambassador. Made no further comment when told “DCM” and subject did not arise during meeting.
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 27–14 VIET/SUNFLOWER. Top Secret; Nodis; Sunflower. Received at 11:24 a.m.
  2. Document 32.
  3. Telegram 3295 from Moscow, February 1, contained a chronology of the Embassy staff’s meetings with their North Vietnamese counterparts; paragraph “P” described Akalovsky’s call on Hoang Man’Tu to request an appointment for Guthrie with Le Chang. (Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Vietnam, Sunflower)
  4. The Department believed that this issue had to be addressed. In telegram 131591 to Moscow, February 3, Guthrie was instructed to emphasize that the Trinh interview and a January 29 article in the DRV’s official newspaper conveyed the “essence” of the January 27 message, even though Hanoi had not publicized the message it sent to the U.S. Government. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 27–14 VIET/SUNFLOWER)