212. Memorandum of Telephone Conversations Between Secretary of Defense Clifford and Secretary of State Rusk 1


C has read all the messages.2 Sec said the President called and President feels very strongly this not responsive and they are still trying to drag us in kicking and screaming to place where clearly we don’t want to go; they ignored our proposal about suggesting a capital not previously mentioned by either side. President feels very strongly we cannot use Warsaw for this purpose. President wants us to go right back to them. Sec said we are now considering whether we suggest another place, some place else where they have an Ambassador. Sec said it is hard to find a place where they have an Ambassador where we have one and which has not already been named by either side. Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, USSR—that just about wraps it up.3

C believes they have accepted 90% of the offer we made because the main offer we made was reversing the procedure we were on, saying let’s go back to the beginning and have talk to be limited to discussion of time and place; they have agreed to that. C said they have left it at lowest level of contact, our Ambassadors in Poland. C thinks this contributes strongly to thought this would be solely time and place. They know we have named negotiators and that we are not going to let Gronouski get into negotiations any more than they would let their Ambassador in Poland get into them. C thinks we can arrange the meeting in such way that it not difficult problem for the President to accept this offer. C said every problem the President had about Warsaw is now eliminated because it is very low level. C said [Page 608] we really should consider with all seriousness unfortunate results that could occur if we turn it down.

C hopes he, Sec, Rostow, President might have chance to talk about this at length, with a preliminary meeting between C, Sec and Rostow. Sec said President feels very strongly about this. C agrees but said President’s first reaction would be an emotional one. C said President doesn’t know the burden he is carrying in this country to refuse to have some kind of talk; the country is holding him personally responsible. Sec said he would call Walt and see if he can arrange for a meeting when the President gets back.

11:30 a.m.

C said he just had a long talk with President who agrees C and Sec should be talking while President is gone. President won’t be back until 5:00 or 6:00 and C doesn’t suppose President would want to see them today but likely want to see them tomorrow. C asked Sec if he could come over for lunch. It was agreed Sec and Katzenbach would come to C’s office as soon as Vice President’s TV appearance was over. C will not have anyone from his side, just C, Sec, Katz and Rostow.4

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 27–14 VIET/CROCODILE. No classification marking.
  2. See Documents 211 and 213.
  3. According to notes of a telephone call Rusk received from Rostow at noon that day, Rostow told him that the President was considering keeping the discussions at Vientiane, offering to continue the talks in countries where both the United States and the DRV had representation, such as Algeria, Guinea, Indonesia, Laos, Mali, Tanzania, and Egypt, or bringing in a mediator such as the Pope, U Thant, or UN General Assembly President Manescu. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 27–14 VIET/CROCODILE) In telegram 4812 from USUN, April 27, Goldberg reported that he told Manescu of U.S. interest in Bucharest as a site. Manescu replied that his government “will not avoid facilitating serious action for peace and being the theater for that action.” (Ibid.)
  4. The President lunched from 1:10 to 4:02 p.m. that day with Rusk, Rostow, Clifford, Wheeler, Fortas, Christian, and Tom Johnson. (Johnson Library, President’s Daily Diary) Notes of the discussion during this luncheon have not been found.