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

14610. Ref: State 90441.2

I have met with President Thieu (who was on a field trip with General Abrams this morning) and he has agreed to the approach suggested in paragraph 2 of reftel. He will not get in touch directly with the Pope and agrees to announce the extension based on the Pope’s public appeal, provided the other troop contributing countries agree. This information has been conveyed to Acting Foreign Minister Lam who will immediately call in representatives of the other five nations and request their early concurrence in a 12 hour extension. Anticipate [Page 1132] announcement can not be made before Saturday, December 30, and possibly morning December 31, depending on speed with which other governments respond.
Have also communicated by Flash message with General Westmoreland who has concurred with 12 hour extension. Westmoreland would prefer truce from 1200 December 31 to 2400 January 1, which he considers would come within the January 1 “Day of Peace” concept, but give the enemy less advantage since he would have fewer hours of darkness for movement. Although consultation with other powers is proceeding on basis extension to 0600 January 2, we will see if we can work out the hours desired by General Westmoreland with the GVN, if the Department so desires. Westmoreland recognizes that the matter may have progressed too far to make this modification but recommends that it be considered.3
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 27 VIET S. Secret; Flash; Nodis. Received at 2:55 a.m.
  2. Document 447.
  3. The truce was not modified, remaining confined to the original period of 6 p.m. December 31 through 6 a.m. January 1. A dramatic increase in fighting occurred in the aftermath of the cease-fire; the NVA and VC suffered their highest recorded weekly death toll of 2,968 killed in the period from December 30 through January 6.