206. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Vietnam


  • Soviet Ambassador Anatoliy F. Dobrynin
  • W. Averell Harriman, Ambassador at Large

I asked Ambassador Dobrynin to come to call at N Street this morning. The Secretary suggested that I inform him of our latest message to Hanoi through Vientiane.2 I found that the Secretary had mentioned the subject to him last night at the White House reception, but I was able to explain it in greater detail. I underlined that we hoped Hanoi’s and our Ambassadors or representatives could get together in some place where we both have representatives and come to an agreement on a mutually agreeable site for contacts. We had the impression that any capital we mentioned would be turned down by Hanoi as a matter of face.

He asked whether Warsaw was out, and I replied that it was, definitely. He then asked whether we had any particular places in mind, and I said no. I said I thought almost any place, now that we had made the point of turning Warsaw down as a supplier of military equipment to North Vietnam. He asked in which countries we both had Ambassadors or representatives. I mentioned the first four that we had proposed, adding Paris and the several Eastern European countries including Romania. He inquired about Algiers. I explained that Algeria had followed the UAR’s lead in breaking with us last June.

I asked him whether there were any further questions he wanted to ask, as the Secretary wanted him to be kept fully informed. He asked a few questions about negotiations, whether we envisioned a Geneva-type conference. I told him our mind was open. It would depend a good deal on how the discussions developed and what Hanoi wished. I said he should not hesitate to inquire if he or his Government had any questions, as I would try to answer them.

He asked about the political scene, and whom I thought very privately would get the Democratic nomination. I said I thought it was too early to make an intelligent guess. He spoke of knowing both “Bobby” [Page 595] and Hubert Humphrey well. He assumed that Hubert Humphrey would get the support of President Johnson, to which I agreed.

(Harriman copy only: He then told me a joke that was going around the Diplomatic Corps of President Johnson’s preference for a successor: First, Hubert Humphrey; second, Nelson Rockefeller; third, McCarthy; fourth, Nixon; fifth, Ho Chi Minh; sixth, Kennedy)

[Omitted here are brief personal remarks.]

  1. Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Harriman Papers, Special Files, Public Service, Kennedy-Johnson, General, April 1968. Secret; Nodis. The meeting was held at Harriman’s home in Georgetown.
  2. See footnote 3, Document 204.