367. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Vietnam1

60458. Ref: Saigon 9433, 9653.2 For Bunker from the Secretary.

Though the final choice of a channel for transmittal of the message is one for Thieu we offer the following thoughts:
While we agree with your judgment that any channel of transmittal is likely to result in refusal by Hanoi to accept the message, we think that such a rejection is most likely if Saigon tries to deliver it directly to North Vietnamese representatives. We are concerned such a direct rejection might result in loss of face by the GVN.
Use of the Japanese channel would offer the following advantages: (1) engaging an important Asian nation and perhaps thus making the effort appear to others as more serious, (2) decreasing the likelihood of rejection by Hanoi and (3) minimizing the loss of face to SVN as it would be the Japanese who would bear the insult in the first instance.
We are uncertain whether India in its ICC capacity would agree to transmit the message but think that India or Canada could be considered as possible channels.
We think the question of public release of the message by the GVN can best be considered after we know Hanoi’s rejection or reaction. Until then it is important that secrecy be preserved.
If possible we would hope that you and we can review draft which Thieu proposes to transmit and have opportunity to make suggestions.3
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 27–14 VIET/PENNSYLVANIA. Top Secret; Flash; Nodis; Pennsylvania. Drafted by Davidson; cleared by Harriman, Read, and Bundy; and approved by Katzenbach.
  2. Telegram 9433 is Document 365. In telegram 9653 from Saigon, October 26, Bunker reported his intention to see Thieu on October 27 and requested Department comment. (Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Vietnam, Pennsylvania)
  3. In telegram 9751 from Saigon, October 27, Bunker replied that Thieu assented to “our hope that he would only make the most general reference in his inaugural address to his desire to achieve a peaceful settlement and his willingness to meet with Hanoi for this purpose.” Thieu also expressed interest in using the Japanese Government as an intermediary. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 27–14 VIET/PENNSYLVANIA)