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

135676. Eyes Only Ambassadors.

Saigon, Bangkok and Vientiane are receiving military message directing that bombing and naval operations against North Viet-Nam not be resumed until after Kosygin leaves London. This decision has been taken in order to avoid any possibility of charges that resumption impaired talks Kosygin having with British. It constitutes a one-shot exception to our standing policy, because of unique circumstances in this particular situation arising from fact that bombing had already been suspended for four days. Our policy on not stopping bombing in return for talks remains unchanged.
Saigon should inform GVN of this decision. We leave it to Bangkok and Vientiane whether they think some notification would be desirable. We expect public statement here Monday, after bombing resumed, explaining that short additional suspension period was undertaken because of previous four days and because resumption while Kosygin was still in London might be misconstrued.
For press purposes, Lodge or Zorthian should consult with Westmoreland. Our objective is to damp down speculation as fully as possible until we can make announcement here after resumption Monday evening your time.2 For this purpose, we here will be responding that matter is operational, that any speculation is unwarranted, and that we will have normal press briefings Monday. Precise guidance has gone through military channels instructing your spokesman to [Page 134] make no comment on military operations to the North. We recognize there may be speculative stories that we cannot prevent, but we wish at all costs not to feed these with anything authoritative.
Canberra, Wellington, Seoul and Manila may in their discretion arrange unobtrusive contacts at appropriately high levels to convey what we are doing, stressing confidence.
London should be sure British understand press line we are following.
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 27 VIET S. Secret; Immediate. Drafted and approved by Bundy and cleared by Read. Repeated to Bangkok, Vientiane, Canberra, Wellington, Seoul, Manila, and London. A handwritten notation indicates that the President saw and approved the telegram.
  2. February 13.