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

90441. Ref: Saigon 14540.2

Please take steps from your end by your secure communication with Clark Field to make sure that General Westmoreland concurs in extension of standdown until 0600 January 2 Saigon time. When such concurrence obtained, please flash us, and then take following actions to effect such extension.
Do not believe it desirable seek special message from Pope. Suggest you follow alternative approach to GVN announcement but with [Page 1131] reference to Pope’s December 15 public appeal that New Year’s Day be a “Day of Peace throughout the world.” Extension by 12 hours then could be related to GVN desire to respond to His Holiness’ plea, rather than referring to “respite” for troops which seems less forthcoming and convincing.
If it is not possible to work out foregoing formula, you should proceed as you deem desirable in arranging for announcement by GVN of 12 hour extension. Please inform us when date and form of announcement are decided.
Above drafted before receipt your 14564.3 We still prefer no direct approach to Pope. Hope you can persuade Thieu to hold off on seeking personal request from Pope. You could plausibly state that request from Pope might involve longer period than we believe prudent.
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 27–14 VIET. Secret; Immediate; Nodis. Drafted by Habib; cleared by Bundy, Walt Rostow, Read, Nitze, and Katzenbach; and approved by Rusk.
  2. Document 445.
  3. In telegram 14564 from Saigon, December 28, Bunker reported that Thieu had instead chosen to wait for the Pope to request directly that the GVN extend the truce rather than to unilaterally declare such an extension. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 27–14 VIET)