46. Telegram From the Embassy in the United Kingdom to the Department of State1

6399. For Secretary from Cooper.

Met with Brown at his residence following Kosygin dinner. Found myself in middle of telephone argument with Downing Street re order of precedence of official cars. Retired to kitchen to help Mrs Brown make tea. I won’t trouble Department with other bits of background and atmosphere at this late hour. Gore Booth and Murray arrived 2330.
Brown (and FonOff types, though to lesser extent) impressed with Kosygin statement in Guildhall speech today that “… the Soviet Govt considers now as in 1954, Great Britain jointly with Soviet Union and other countries, could make her contribution to the settlement of the VN question on the basis of the Geneva Agreements which must be observed by USA.”2
Brown feels Sovs may be signalling a readiness to convene Geneva. At private session tomorrow (10 am Wilson and Kosygin to be joined at 1045 by Brown and Soldatov) Brown will ask Wilson to press Sovs on whether this was a serious hint that with or without Chinese they would be prepared to join UK in call for early convocation of Geneva. After much discussion Brown asked for draft written proposal to be submitted to him and Wilson prior to 10 am meeting.
Gore Booth, Murray and I went back to FonOff and prepared following (they understand very clearly that this does not have any official endorsement of USG despite my participation in drafting):

“The two co-chairmen will announce immediately that they:

Invite the US to assure them that the bombing of NVN will stop;
Invite the North Vietnamese and the US to assure the co-chairmen that they will take mutual and equivalent steps to halt the augmentation of their forces in SVN.
If all the foregoing assurances are promptly received the two co-chairmen will invite the members of the 1954 Geneva Conference to reconvene in Geneva on 15 Feb to work out a settlement of the present conflict.”

If Sovs will not buy this, Brown will press them to endorse Phase A-Phase B formula as they formulated it yesterday.
Following FonOff drafting session went to Downing Street and caught Wilson on way up to bed. Informed him of contents “Sunflower Plus” and of Washington view re his Commons performance. Wilson said there was more (or less) to story than Wash had gotten. Suggested I get together with Palliser for accurate account, which I will do.
Please provide any guidance prior to 0930 London time.
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 27–14 VIET/SUNFLOWER. Top Secret; Flash; Nodis; Sunflower. Received at 10:13 p.m. on February 8.
  2. See footnote 2, Document 48. In a conversation with Dobrynin at 11 a.m. on February 8, Kohler cautioned that President Johnson was concerned that any negative pronouncements by Kosygin might “complicate the President’s problems here connected with relations between the two countries.” (Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Vietnam, Sunflower, Vol. II) Harriman interpreted the Kosygin speech as a positive development. In a February 8 memorandum to the President, Harriman suggested that Kosygin had to criticize the United States publicly: “Kosygin can perhaps establish more credibility in Hanoi if he makes this type of statement particularly when abroad. The important thing in dealing with these Communist countries is what they tell us privately and what they do.” (Ibid., Amb. Harriman—Negotiations Comm.)