435. Telegram From the Embassy in Vietnam to the Department of State1

13356. 1. During a meeting with President Thieu December 12 I went over a number of matters relating to reported US-NLF contacts and the Vietnam question in the UN Security Council.2

2. I read Thieu the UPI item about the forthcoming Newsweek issue alleging that meetings of American and Viet Cong representatives have taken place with increasing frequency.3 I told him that to my knowledge there was no truth in these reports and I had no idea of the source for these allegations. I gave him copies of the Department’s Dec 8 statement and the summary of Ambassador Goldberg’s December 7 press conference (which had earlier been sent to the GVN Foreign Office for circulation to the principal GVN offices).4 In discussing the story on USUN contacts, I referred specifically to the Department’s assurance that we would consult with the GVN on any change in our current policy with regard to the UN and to my own public statement about consultation with the GVN regarding any such contacts.

3. I then brought Thieu up to date on developments in New York relating to possible consideration of Vietnam by the Security Council, noting that Ambassador Goldberg was keeping in close touch with the [Page 1109] GVN observer there. I summarized the main points made by Goldberg to Chi, as reported in USUN 2934.5

4. Thieu asked my opinion as to the probability of any action being taken by the Security Council. I said that I thought it was unlikely that there would be any Security Council action since the Soviets appeared still to be opposed to UN consideration of the Vietnam question. I pointed out, however, that the Mansfield resolution required that we explore this question very carefully and that we were engaged in doing this. During this discussion I noted that Hanoi Radio had reported an NLF denial that there had been any attempt to send representatives to the UN and called attention to U Thant’s statements about this.6

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL US-VIET S. Secret; Priority; Exdis. Received at 1621Z. Repeated to USUN.
  2. In telegram 12892 from Saigon (Bunker’s 30th weekly telegram), December 7, Bunker reported that the GVN was greatly concerned that the NLF would represent itself as a government to the United Nations. (Ibid., POL 27 VIET S; printed in full in Pike, The Bunker Papers, pp. 259–268) In a discussion with Bundy, reported in telegram 80846 to Saigon and USUN, December 7, Bui Diem “stressed that any invitation to the NLF would cause some problems in Saigon in any event, and that an invitation on a parallel basis to the GVN and NLF would raise particularly serious criticism in Saigon.” (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 27 VIET S) Two days earlier, Foreign Minister Tran Van Do had publicly stated that the GVN was opposed to any role for the NLF in possible talks at the United Nations. See The New York Times, December 6, 1967. In a statement released on December 8, the Department affirmed the U.S. Government’s willingness to grant visas to NLF representatives to come to the United Nations “when they are officially invited for official business,” but stated that it would not deal with the NLF without first consulting with Saigon. See American Foreign Policy: Current Documents, 1967, p. 1041.
  3. The article, entitled “What’s In a Word? Meetings Between Spokesmen of the United States and the Viet Cong,” appeared in the December 18 issue of Newsweek.
  4. In this statement, Goldberg said that the NLF inquired about sending public spokesmen and not diplomats to the United Nations in September; since that time, the U.S. Government had not opposed NLF representatives coming before the General Assembly on “official business” but did not want such a visit to turn into a propaganda campaign. See The New York Times, December 8, 1967.
  5. According to telegram 2934 from the USUN, December 11, Goldberg informed Chi, the GVN observer at the United Nations, of the U.S. Government’s intention to first consult other members of the Security Council before proceeding on the matter of letting the NLF go before the international body. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 27 VIET/UN) In a December 14 document circulated by the Romanian delegation to various other UN delegations, the NLF put forth a platform statement calling for the establishment of a coalition government and the holding of “free elections” in South Vietnam, economic and land reform, and eventual reunification with North Vietnam. In response, Goldberg noted that the new document did not alter the opposition of the Vietnamese Communists toward the prospect of settlement within the framework of the United Nations. See The New York Times, December 15, 1967, and American Foreign Policy: Current Documents, 1967, pp. 1042–1043.
  6. Two days after the adjournment of the UNGA on December 20, USUN released a summary of actions taken during the 22d Assembly, which reads in part: “On several occasions before and during the General Assembly, the United States again consulted with other members on a possible renewal of Security Council consideration of Viet-Nam. Such consultations were held during the Tet bombing pause in January 1967; shortly before the Assembly met for its regular session; and in December, following the Senate’s passage of the Mansfield resolution. On none of these occasions did we find any change of attitude by those opposing United Nations involvement.” See Department of State Bulletin, February 5, 1968, pp. 181–182.