81. Telegram From the Embassy in the Soviet Union to the Department of State1

3503. Ref: Moscow 3501.2

At Le Chang’s request (Hoang Manh Tu phoned Akalovsky at 11:45), DCM called on him at 13:00 today.
Le Chang handed DCMHo Chi Minh’s reply to President’s message delivered February 8, requesting that it be transmitted to President (septel).3 Le Chang then made the following additional oral statement: [Page 171]
Position and attitude of DRV Govt are very correct and serious, and enjoy strong support of world public opinion, including American people. US, however, always obstinate and perfidious, and it continues advance conditions for cessation of bombings.
US had made use of DRV representative’s receiving US representative in Moscow to deceive public opinion that secret negotiations going on while bombings continue.
Lately, US extended so-called suspension of bombings during Tet. Less than two days later, bombings were resumed on pretext that there had been no response from Hanoi. This constitutes insolent ultimatum to compel Vietnamese people to accept unacceptable conditions.
In such circumstances, DRV representative does not consider it possible receive US representative in Moscow on US proposal. Responsibility for this rests completely with US.4
After making sure he understood Le Chang’s final statement correctly, DCM called his attention to President’s February 13 statement5 and cited sentence stating that door to peace is and will remain open and US prepared go more than half way to meet any equitable overture from other side.
In response, Le Chang quoted final portion Ho’s message, beginning with sentence stipulating cessation of bombings and all other acts of war against DRV as precondition if US really desires conversations.
Meeting was attended by usual participants and lasted 15 minutes.
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 27–14 VIET/SUNFLOWER. Top Secret; Immediate; Nodis; Sunflower Plus. Received at 7:57 a.m.
  2. Telegram 3501 from Moscow, February 15, 1043Z, read: “Le Chang handed DCM at 1:00 p.m. Ho Chi Minh’s reply to President’s letter. Reply completely unyielding and in subsequent oral remarks, Le Chang said he could no longer meet with U.S. representatives in Moscow. Text and full report follow.” (Ibid.)
  3. See Document 32. The translation of Ho Chi Minh’s reply is printed as an attachment to Document 82.
  4. In a February 15 memorandum to Katzenbach, Bundy found Le Chang’s remarks “of possible interest.” He speculated that Le Chang’s statements put forth a “teaser” designed to mean that “the door was not really shut if we keep our mouths shut about the channel.” (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 27–14 VIET/SUNFLOWER)
  5. See footnote 2, Document 79.