56. Memorandum of Telephone Conversation1

PARTICIPANTS

  • Chester L. Cooper
  • Amb. David Bruce
  • Benjamin H. Read
1.

Chester Cooper advised me that the British analysis of our outgoing message of last night2 was now focussing sharply on the past tense in point A (“the US will order a cessation of bombing of North Viet-Nam as soon as they are assured that infiltration from North Viet-Nam to South Viet-Nam has stopped”). The British have noted that this is in direct conflict with our modified Point 14 which the Secretary underscored in his press conference on Thursday which reads “we are prepared to order a cessation of all bombing of North Viet-Nam, the moment we are assured—privately or otherwise—that this step will be answered promptly by a corresponding and appropriate de-escalation on the other side.”3

Chester Cooper and David Bruce are having considerable difficulty rationalizing the change with the British on this point, and would appreciate any argumentation we can provide. They think the Prime Minister might cable the President on this point later today although they have urged him against doing so.

2.
On Point B of our message, Cooper and Bruce believe they have persuaded the British that the principal differences between our present and earlier positions are not important substantive ones, but relate largely to a most difficult public relations point on which our position is generally sympathized with.
3.
Resumption after Tet—They inquired whether the final paragraph of our outgoing message of yesterday was in effect a decision to resume bombing in the southern portion of North Viet-Nam at 6 p.m. today (Washington time), and I have answered in the affirmative.

At the point David Bruce got on the phone and said if renewal of aerial bombing of North Viet-Nam occurs before Kosygin leaves the UK, he cannot under-emphasize the difficulty that it will cause Wilson [Page 126](and the Soviets), and he thought that it would end not only for the immediate future but for some time to come the chances of working out a settlement through these channels (British-Soviet).

BHR
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 27–14 VIET/SUNFLOWER. Top Secret; Nodis; Sunflower Plus. Cooper and Bruce were in London; Read was in Washington.
  2. Document 51.
  3. The transcript of Secretary Rusk’s news conference of February 9 is in the Department of State Bulletin, February 27, 1967, pp. 317–322.