358. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in France1

56516. For Kissinger. This cable provides initial guidance for your discussions with M. and A. during the next two days. In accordance with our discussions last night2 the talking points suggested are intended exclusively for your use with M. and A., and do not include any message to Bo.

From the time of your opening discussions with M. tonight, you should make it entirely clear to him that Washington considers that the DRV has rejected the forthcoming USG proposals to bring about an end to the bombing and prompt and productive US/DRV discussions with no advantage being taken by the DRV on the ground. You should indicate that we base this conclusion not only on the negative DRV message of Oct. 173 but also upon Hanoi’s negative public statements and, most importantly, upon renewed DRV hostile actions in the vicinity of the DMZ. Each of these points are developed further below for your subsequent discussions, but it should be your objective from the start to indicate that the patience of your Washington friends is running out and that they feel that Hanoi has been unwilling to respond on any significant point.
In the course of reviewing this channel with M. and A. on October 20 and 21 you should cover the following points:
It has been eight weeks since M. and A. gave Bo the USG written proposal of August 254 which indicated that the US was willing to stop the aerial and Naval bombardment of North Viet-Nam with the understanding that this would lead promptly to productive discussions looking toward a peaceful resolution of the issues between the US and the DRV on the assumption that the DRV would not take advantage of the bombing cessation. You should remind M. and A. of their initial reaction that the US offer was generous and forthcoming and note the reasonableness of the assumption stated and other principal points of the offer.
You should recall the US message of Sept. 13,5 text being cabled by septel, in which the US explained that the original proposal contained “neither conditions nor threats” and simply stated the “understanding of the USG that the DRV would be willing promptly to engage in productive discussions leading to peace when there was a cessation of aerial and Naval bombardment.”
Remind the intermediaries of President Johnson’s public commitment in San Antonio on September 296 that “the US is willing to stop all aerial and Naval bombardment of North Viet-Nam when this will lead promptly to productive discussions. We, of course, assume that while discussions proceed, North Viet-Nam would not take advantage of the bombing cessation or limitation.”
Cite your message of October 87 which stated that the USG was prepared to carry out its original proposal by authorizing you to advise Bo of the precise date on which the bombardment would cease, to suggest to Bo a date and place for US/DRV discussions and to receive from Bo the DRV views with respect to the modalities for opening such discussions. Very much to your chagrin Bo refused to see you.
Note that since the date of our first substantive communication to the DRV in this channel in August, the US has for eight weeks unilaterally refrained repeat unilaterally refrained from bombing in the immediate vicinity of Hanoi.
Contrast the foregoing restraint with the sustained major military offensive in the vicinity of the DMZ during the first 3–1/2 weeks of September, which included the use of heavy DRV artillery located in North Vietnam against GVN and US troops located in South Vietnam [Page 907] and large DRV troop attacks across the Ben Hai River boundary against Con Thien and other GVN/US military and civilian positions. Observe that even since your message of October 8 which took note of a reduction of military activities in the DMZ area, the DRV during the last week has again mounted heavy military attacks across the 17th parallel against South Vietnam. In these circumstances the allegation in the DRV message of October 17 that the US is pressing a policy of escalation is wholly lacking credibility.
You should emphasize that when the DRV messages in this channel of September 11,8 September 239 and October 17 are analyzed they show that the DRV has been unwilling at any time (1) to indicate in this channel or otherwise that for its part it will engage in discussions with the US even if the bombing had stopped in accordance with US proposals; or (2) to make any substantive counter proposal on how to proceed to discussions leading to peaceful settlement of differences.
Note that on this date, October 19, a Reuters dispatch from Hong Kong indicates that “North Vietnam today rejected the American offer for a conditional bombing pause in return for peace talks” as offered by President Johnson on September 29 and repeated by Secretary Rusk at his October 12 press conference.10 We will send by septel the pertinent portions of the Nhan Dan official Hanoi daily article on which this report is based.
In reviewing this channel with M. and A. you are authorized to show to them the text of the September 13 USG message and other messages which you sent during your last visit in Paris which they have not yet seen.
Without requesting M. and A. to see Bo, which we assume they will promptly do to report your mood of discouragement and concern, you should indicate interest in learning what essential differences Bo (not M. and A.) could find, if any, with the main points in your review of the channel.
If pressed, you are authorized to state that the US proposals do remain open at this time but that you are not empowered to speak about future US views or actions.
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 27–14 VIET/PENNSYLVANIA. Top Secret; Immediate; Nodis; Pennsylvania. Drafted by Read, cleared by Read and Walt Rostow, and approved by Rusk.
  2. See Document 357.
  3. See footnote 3, Document 357.
  4. See Document 293.
  5. See Documents 318 and 321.
  6. See Document 340.
  7. See Document 349.
  8. See footnote 2, Document 315.
  9. See footnote 8, Document 337.
  10. See footnote 7, Document 355.