229. Information Memorandum From the Executive Secretary of the National Security Council (Smith) to President Johnson 1


  • Procedural Agreement Reached at Paris Talks

Our delegation to the Paris talks reports that at the meeting today the North Vietnamese were businesslike and that the atmosphere was good. (Tab A)2

Agreement was reached on the procedures to be followed. (Text is at Tab B.)3

Cy Vance made clear to the North Vietnamese that our acceptance of Paragraph 2. (C), which refers to the citizenship of persons participating in the talks, was an entirely reasonable arrangement so long as the United States and the Democratic Republic of Vietnam are discussing matters of primary concern to them.4 However, our acceptance of this provision should not be construed to affect in any way the role which must be played by the legitimate Government of South Vietnam at the appropriate time.

Later in the meeting and in response to this point, the North Vietnamese representative said he took note of our statement and understood it but it was not necessary to discuss it here.

[Page 659]

The first substantive meeting is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Monday,5 Paris time. North Vietnamese Minister Thuy will speak first. Ambassador Harriman will follow with his opening statement which you have already approved.

Bromley Smith
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Vietnam, Crocodile-Paris General, 4/9/68–5/11/68. Secret. The notation “ps” on the memorandum indicates that the President saw it.
  2. Neither tab is printed. Tab A was the text of telegram 13865 from Paris, May 11, in which Vance summarized his second procedural meeting with Ha Van Lau held that day. Both negotiators agreed upon procedures to be followed in the official conversations. A full report on the meeting is in telegram 13866 from Paris, May 11. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, IS/OIS Files: Lot 90 D 345, Delto Chron.) Vance reported on the first procedural meeting of May 10, during which these issues initially were raised, in telegrams 13832 and 13852 from Paris, both May 10. (Ibid.)
  3. Tab B was a paper entitled “Procedures for the Conversations Between the Democratic Republic of Vietnam and the United States of America,” May 11. The agreed procedures included: the composition of each party to the official conversations would be limited to no more than ten persons and only to citizens of each nation; only designated representatives had the right to take the floor; Vietnamese and English would be the official languages with French a working language; there would be no joint minutes; the press would not attend the sessions; the sessions would be held at the Hotel Majestic beginning at 10:30 a.m.; the time for the next session would be determined at the end of each meeting; and the French Government would be responsible for maintaining security and order both “outside and inside” the conference hall.
  4. Section 2(C) of Tab B reads: “To be allowed to attend the sessions between the two parties, as well as to work at the site chosen for the conversations, the components of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam party must be citizens of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, and those of the United States party must be citizens of the United States.”
  5. May 13.