343. Record of Telephone Conversation Between the Executive Secretary of the Department of State (Read) and Henry A. Kissinger1

K received in the mail this morning the typed, unsigned communication set forth below from Rome on blank white paper without letterhead.2 The communication was in French, and K’s verbatim translation follows:

“The position of the RDVN remains always the same. If the United States really wished to talk, let them stop first without conditions the bombardment of the territory of the RDVN.

“Starting from that position there are several eventualities:

A public declaration by the Government of the United States about the cessation. This declaration could take place either before or after the cessation.
An official declaration but non-public preceding the cessation of the bombardment. This declaration could be communicated by the channel K/A–M (officieusement)—not quite officially, and after this indication it can be transmitted officially by an accredited person.
An end of bombardment without preceding official declaration followed by an official but not public communication of the Government of the United States.

“Eventuality (a) would represent a public declaration replying to that made on the 28th of January by M. Trinh, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the RDVN, which constitutes a solemn engagement to talk after the unconditional end of bombing. This public declaration would be followed by the transmission of an official text by an accredited person.

“Eventualities (b) and (c) reflect the propositions of M and A as they result from their understanding of their conversation in July in Hanoi with the Prime Minister. A confirmation is expected soon.” (End of message)

Upon receipt K phoned M in Paris to ask two questions:


Where is the handwritten original, showing Bo’s interlineations? and (b) What is the precise interpretation of (b)? M said he had mailed the handwritten original from Paris yesterday (October 3) by airmail special delivery.

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M said everything in the message except (b) was approved word for word by Bo, and point (b) is based on M’s notes of his October 3 meeting with Bo. M believes he has correctly stated Bo’s views in

although that eventuality was reconstructed by M after the October 3 meeting. K asked M, who had not yet seen Bo today, to show formulation (b) to Bo immediately and get his views on its accuracy and meaning.3

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 27–14 VIET/PENNSYLVANIA. Top Secret; Nodis; Pennsylvania.
  2. The original French texts of both the dictated version corrected by Bo and Marcovich’s corrected copy are attached to a letter from Kissinger to Read, October 30. (Ibid.)
  3. According to a record of a telephone conversation between Read and Kissinger at 4:15 p.m. on October 4, Bo had confirmed the accuracy of Marcovich’s draft with the exception of the phrase “solemn arrangement.” Kissinger informed Marcovich that Bo’s backing away from this phrase was “a serious substantive change.” (Ibid.) Marcovich again met with Bo after the talk with Kissinger. Bo would not discuss his problem with the phrase “solemn arrangement.” In Bo’s presence, Marcovich wrote down a message to Kissinger which stated that “if the US really wants to talk it is necessary first to stop without conditions the bombing and all other acts of war against the DRV.” Marcovich described the first step in such a scenario for enacting such a halt to be a message agreeing to halt the bombing through the Paris channel followed by a second message suggesting a date and site for talks. If the U.S. Government assented to this arrangement, it had to respond with a written confirmation. (Notes of Read/Kissinger Telcons, 8 p.m. and 8:30 p.m., October 4; ibid.)