18. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Vietnam Peace Talks


  • W. Averell Harriman, Ambassador at Large
  • Daniel I. Davidson, Special Assistant, S/AH
  • Corneliu Bogdan, Romanian Ambassador

Ambassador Bogdan told the Governor that Mr. Macovescu today left for Hanoi and that weather permitting he will arrive in Hanoi on January 22. Bogdan presumed this was Hanoi time. On Tuesday January 23, the Soviet government will be informed by an authorized representative of the Washington talks and of Macovescu’s new mission to Hanoi. Ambassador Bogdan did not know who the authorized representative would be but thought it would be “probably at the highest level”. When asked what the Russians would be told Bogdan said that he had not been informed exactly but he recalled Macovescu saying they would be given the gist or a summary of the talks.

Governor Harriman asked if the Ambassador had seen the State of the Union address2 which the Governor characterized as confirming the San Antonio formula. Bogdan replied that he had and saw nothing new in it. The Governor said that he mentioned the speech because some newspaper commentators said that the U.S. had hardened its stand and that he wanted the Romanians to know that the U.S. government had not changed its position. Ambassador Bogdan recalled that Secretary Rusk had said that what he told the Romanians is what counts and not what was said publicly. Bogdan said the Romanians understand that no advantage is not a condition but a warning.

The Governor stated that he was authorized to inform the Romanians that there had been no change in the San Antonio formula. As the Romanians had been frankly told a bombing pause could not continue if Hanoi took advantage of it but the U.S. was not requiring Hanoi to agree to any conditions in advance.

The Governor referred to the statements by Bo in Paris.3 Bogdan said that they did not contain anything new and if anything confirmed [Page 43] what the Romanians had told us. Governor Harriman said that we did not want to get it confused with the Romanian message.

Ambassador Bogdan said that yesterday evening after the State of the Union address Murrey Marder of the Washington Post had called him at home and asked if a high Romanian official was in Washington. Bogdan had said that no such high official was now here but that the First Deputy Foreign Minister had inspected the Embassy at the beginning of the year. The Ambassador had asked Marder what made him inquire and Marder had replied that there was an item on this in a Washington news letter.4

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 27–14 VIET/PACKERS. Secret; Nodis; Packers. The meeting was held in Harriman’s office.
  2. See Document 13.
  3. See footnote 2, Document 4.
  4. Telegram 98490 to Bucharest, January 14, instructed DCM Neubert to deliver a message to Ceausescu from Johnson thanking him for his government’s efforts “to bring about an honorable and peaceful solution.” (Ibid.) On January 15 Neuber gave the note to Macovescu and informed him that information on the latter’s visit to Hanoi the previous December apparently had leaked out. In response, Macovescu replied that such an occurrence was “understandable” since both the Soviet and Chinese Governments had been informed of his visit to the DRV. He hoped that the secrecy of his visit to Washington would be maintained until after his planned trip to Hanoi later in January. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 27–14 VIET/PACKERS) Despite Macovescu’s hopes, the Romanian Government itself did not maintain secrecy. A January 26 note given to the Department of State by the Apostolic Delegate Luis Raimondi, reads: “In a special audience with His Holiness, Pope Paul VI, on January 24, 1968, the Prime Minister of Rumania repeatedly stated that he has reason to believe that if the United States stops bombing North Vietnam, the Hanoi Government will not take advantage of the situation to reinforce its military power. This information, received by the Cardinal Secretary of State, is conveyed for whatever interest it may have.” (Ibid., POL 27 VIET S)