252. Telegram From the Embassy in France to the Department of State 1

14827/Delto 176. From Harriman.

1.
I called on Zorin at 6 o’clock this evening for about an hour’s talk.2 We started by discussing the way the talks were going. In answer to his questions, I told him we were making no progress. I explained our position on basis for talks, and read him my statement at this morning’s meeting on this subject.3 I also pointed out my reference to no evidence of restraint which I had told him I would make clear to North Viet-Nam again.
2.
This led to a discussion on the propriety of our asking restraints from the North Vietnamese, and I insisted again that North Vietnamese could not expect further restraints on our part, when in fact they were increasing their attacks on the northern provinces and pouring men and material to the South. Later I referred also to attacks on Saigon. I emphasized that the type of propaganda speeches by the North Vietnamese could not last indefinitely and again suggested that we might make progress if one or two from each side had informal private discussions. I expressed hope that he might find some way to put this thought into the North Vietnamese ear.
3.
He defended the North Vietnamese position in the usual manner, and declined to make any suggestion to them. He did suggest, however, that we might propose private talks directly to them. He said they probably would not accept the proposal at first, but might later on, depending upon the progress of the official discussions.
4.
I then recalled to him that in answer to his charge at our last meeting, I had denied any change in the pattern of US bombing.4 I told him that the President had explained to Dobrynin on March 31st that the 20th parallel would be the limit of bombing, whereas in fact Zorin may have noticed that during the past month or more, there had been no attacks above the 19th parallel. Today, in order to keep him accurately informed, I [Page 723] had to tell him that the pattern might change because of the lack of restraint on the part of North Viet-Nam. Targets north of the 19th parallel might be hit to check the large flow of men and material to the South. I was not, however, suggesting any change from the position stated by the President to Dobrynin.
5.
I told him I was disappointed in the exaggeration and falseness of the North Vietnamese statements. This was having a bad effect in the US and world wide because of their obvious fantasies. He commented that the North Vietnamese didn’t think much of our position.
6.
He was again cordial but dodged any responsibility. As he was so indefinite, I concluded by asking him to inform his government that I was worried by the arrogance and rigidity of the North Vietnamese attitude and to explain our concern.5
Harriman
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, IS/OIS Files: Lot 90 D 345, Paris Peace Conference on Vietnam, 1968–1969, Delto Chron. Secret; Immediate; Nodis/Harvan. Received at 4:49 p.m.
  2. A memorandum of this conversation is in the Library of Congress, Harriman Papers, Special Files, Public Service, Kennedy-Johnson, Paris Peace Talks, Subject File, HARVAN and HARVAN/PLUS, Meetings with the Soviets: Zorin-Oberemko.
  3. Harriman discussed the specifics of North Vietnamese military operations in the South. (Telegram 14774/Delto 163 from Paris, May 27; National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, IS/OIS Files: Lot 90 D 345, Paris Peace Conference on Vietnam, 1968–1969, Delto Chron.)
  4. See Document 247.
  5. In telegram 173047 to Moscow, May 29, the Department noted that Harriman had “come to conclusion that Zorin is not receptive to suggestions as to how talks might be moved on to more productive track.” (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, IS/OIS Files: Lot 90 D 345, Paris Peace Conference on Vietnam, 1968–1969, Todel Chron.)