215. Telephone Conversation Between President Johnson and Secretary of State Rusk1

President: Dean, can’t we do something on Bucharest before we get another proposal from them?

Rusk: I talked to Arthur [Goldberg] yesterday about it. He’s seen—he’s in touch with Manescu and has not heard anything back from him on this.

President: I’m tired of waiting on that though. That’s just—

Rusk: Well, the key is to whether representatives of our allies could be there.

President: Well, let’s find out from them direct if we can’t some way, because we’ve waited a week on it. We went out to Thieu and then we went out to everyone else. We’ve waited. We found this ploy and I don’t want any more delays if I can avoid it on Bucharest because I don’t—I think they’d have a little trouble turning down Bucharest. What I think we ought to do, I think we ought to just say to them, if it’s just for the site, let’s make it as limited as their reply was on Warsaw. Now everybody’s ready to go to that whether by God they had it or not. So, I wouldn’t worry too much if they refuse to let us have somebody come in there on the first talk. Why, we could fuzz that up and go alone if we had to on Bucharest. I wouldn’t feel so bad about it. I’d much rather do it than gamble on getting drug in by Paris. I’m getting very squeezy about that. I keep reading these interviews. What I’d like to do is try to say if I could, direct as I could to our Ambassador, we would, if you’d suggest it publicly, we would be, there’d be a very prompt response, period, or something like that.

Rusk: Well, I think Manescu made this point pretty strongly that on Bucharest the Romanians could not volunteer it. Maybe we ought to use U Thant—see if he could work it out.

President: Well, I don’t like U Thant. Is there another channel somewhere?

Rusk: Well, I might try, let’s see—

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President: This gets us into all that Goldberg flak. We had a day of him yesterday. You have no idea how much time that man has taken.

Rusk: Well, let me find out first from the Romanian Ambassador here before lunch whether he’s gotten anything back on this, and then I’ll have a suggestion at lunch as to how we can get going on it.

President: I’m sure Clark will be against anything else until we get the Clifford formula over with. But I’m not. I’m going to do something and I’d like to do it right if I could. But I’ve waited now a week on Bucharest and I just in my bones know it would be difficult to, it would be a problem for them. At least it would show that I was not too adamant, that I had some flexibility, if I was to go that far. The Pope’s going to ask us, I think tomorrow.2

Rusk: Let me see what I can do about it.

President: All right.

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  1. Source: Johnson Library, Recordings and Transcripts, Recording of Telephone Conversation Between Johnson and Rusk, April 30, 1968, 10:50 a.m., Tape F6804.03, PNO 5. No classification marking. This transcript was prepared specifically for this volume in the Office of the Historian.
  2. In a telephone conversation with Daley 2 days earlier, the President stated: “I’ve got two or three little plans in the mail that might work out on our peace thing, might give us a little chance. We got a little closer to a site yesterday, and I haven’t told another human this, but I’m playing with His Holiness a bit to try to get him to take a step or two that we think might be productive, and he tentatively agreed to it. He has to talk to some of his people. So, we’re working at it every day, and things are lightening up some there.” (Ibid., Recording of Telephone Conversation Between Johnson and Daley, April 28, 1968, 6:45 p.m., Tape 6804.03, PNO 4)