2. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Viet-Nam and the Security Council—Part 6 of 7


  • Ambassador Goldberg and Ambassador Dobrynin

In mid-December Ambassador Dobrynin approached me at a large social function and indicated a strong desire for a private meeting with me at an early date. After checking with the Secretary and with his concurrence, I arranged a luncheon in the Secretary’s private dining room for the Ambassador and myself on January 3, 1968. My talk with [Page 3] Ambassador Dobrynin covered a wide variety of topics, and our discussion of two and one-half hours is briefly summarized as follows:

We then talked briefly about Viet Nam and the Security Council.2 I told him that our final decision had not been made but then asked whether in light of the recent statements out of Hanoi the Soviet position about UN involvement had changed in any way. Dobrynin replied that insofar as he was aware their position remained the same against UN involvement and then frankly in response to a question from me stated that their position would, as in the past, be determined by Hanoi’s attitude. He added that it had been their view for some time that the NLF position was not necessarily the same as Hanoi’s and expressed the private opinion that it would be highly useful to explore possibilities through the NLF. I then asked for his reaction to the recent statement of Foreign Minister Trinh of North Vietnam.3 He disclaimed any official information about the statement but added that it was not surprising since Hanoi had stated the same position to Kosygin last February. He added that Kosygin had communicated this to us at the time.4 I inquired whether in light of Trinh’s statement, the Soviets as a co-chairman of the Geneva Conference would feel at great liberty to join with the British in reconvening the conference. He replied that the bombing still stood in the way. He then asked as to the meaning of the President’s San Antonio statement5 and I replied that I thought the statement spoke for itself and that I had tried at the UN to express the same concept when I said that negotiations or discussions could only take place under circumstances which would not disadvantage either side. He then asked whether the words meaningful or fruitful negotiations were not conditions and I said rather than being conditions they were a simple statement that negotiations would have to be good faith negotiations.

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 27 VIET S. Secret; Exdis. Drafted by Goldberg and approved in S/S on January 6.
  2. For the debate over whether to introduce the issue of Vietnam in the UN Security Council, see Foreign Relations, 1964–1968, vol. V, Documents 421 ff.
  3. See Document 1.
  4. Reference is to talks Kosygin held with British Prime Minister Harold Wilson in February 1967; see Foreign Relations, 1964–1968, vol. V, Documents 39 ff.
  5. The President’s San Antonio address of September 26, 1967, established a formula for a bombing halt, provided the halt was followed by “prompt and productive” discussions with the North Vietnamese who would not take advantage militarily of the cessation. For text, see American Foreign Policy: Current Documents, 1967, pp. 995–999. See also Foreign Relations, 1964–1968, vol. V, Document 340.