51. Telegram From the President’s Special Assistant (Rostow) to the Ambassador to the United Kingdom (Bruce) and Chester Cooper of the National Security Council Staff1
Please pass literally eyes only Amb. Bruce and Mr. Cooper.
To meet 10:30 a.m. signal to Kosygin we are requesting courtesy of this irregular means of transmission. Formulation as cleared here at highest level and comments follow:2
- The United States will order a cessation of bombing of North Vietnam as soon as they are assured that infiltration from North Vietnam to South Vietnam has stopped. This assurance can be communicated in secret if North Vietnam so wishes.
- Within a few days (with a period to be agreed with the two sides before the bombing stops) the United States will stop further augmenting their force in South Vietnam. The cessation of bombing of North Vietnam is an action which will be immediately apparent. This requires that the stoppage of infiltration become public very quickly thereafter. If Hanoi is unwilling to announce the stoppage of infiltration, the United States must do so at the time it stops augmentation of U.S. forces. In that case, Hanoi must not deny it.
- Any assurances from Hanoi can reach the United States direct, or through Soviet channels, or through the Soviet and British Governments. This is for North Vietnam to decide.
Comments for Wilson:
You should be clear that the stoppage of augmentation by us would still permit the rotation of United States forces and their continued supply. Augmentation means no net increase. Stoppage of infiltration, however, means that men and arms cannot move from North Vietnam into South Vietnam.
The phraseology of paragraph A above is to prevent the sudden movement of two or three divisions across the 17th parallel during the “few days” referred to in paragraph B.
It is very important that this arrangement in Vietnam not be translated into a communist seizure of Laos. The two Co-chairmen should [Page 116] agree between themselves that both will make a maximum effort in support of the 1954 and 1962 accords.
Assurance about infiltration ought to lead to prompt measures by the ICC, either as a Commission or as governments, to provide assurances to all concerned that these arrangements are being carried out. This should mean ICC observers in the DMZ and in whatever places in Laos may be required to keep the Ho Chi Minh trail under surveillance. Unless we receive immediate word from Hanoi that the above arrangements are in effect, it will be necessary for us to resume military action against North Viet Nam forces in and north of the Demilitarized Zone and resupply operations to those forces by land and sea. We do not expect to resume bombing against the Northern portions of North Viet Nam prior to Mr. Kosygin’s departure from Britain. We are entirely serious about main proposals but see no reason why Tet should be extended, at substantial military risk, while further exchanges proceed. We still have nothing from Hanoi.
- Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Vietnam, Sunflower & Sunflower Plus. Top Secret; Sunflower. Rostow forwarded a copy of this telegram to the President at 5:50 p.m. (Ibid.)↩
- Rostow sent the message through the British Cabinet Secretary, Burke Trend, on February 10. The message with the President’s revisions is in the National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 27–14 VIET and has no number nor time of dispatch on it.↩