276. Notes of Meeting1



  • The President
  • Secretary Clifford
  • Undersecretary Katzenbach
  • CIA Director Helms
  • General Wheeler
  • George Christian
  • Walt Rostow
  • Tom Johnson

President: Are you concerned about Jorden’s conversation?2

Undersecretary Katzenbach: I am encouraged by it.

The President: Does he indicate we might change our position?

Walt Rostow: He did change our position. Our first position was for clean DMZ, no infiltration. He went back somewhat. On the whole, it was an appropriate time to change and show some flexibility. We would settle, I am sure, for a stop in the infiltration for a halt in the bombing.

General Wheeler: I am not disturbed by this small shift in our position.

[Page 796]

The proposed reply to the Indian Ambassador did not say what we would settle for in return for bombing cessation.3

Undersecretary Katzenbach: The question is—would you cease bombing for re-establishment of the DMZ with ICC inspection. The answer is either “yes” or “no” or “maybe.”

Director Helms: Laos is not mentioned.

Undersecretary Katzenbach: It was put in by implication.

I would consider saying that restoration of DMZ might be worth it from our point.

Secretary Clifford: I thought Jorden’s position was well within the President’s statements. It was useful. It was a forward development.

On India, I do not want to take the “back-door” approach through India. I would prefer keeping it in Paris. It might come out.

Are Vance and Harriman for the Indian approach?

Undersecretary Katzenbach: Yes, they are for it.

The Indians are saying the U.S. has done something; now they (NVN) should do something.

Secretary Clifford: What can Mrs. Gandhi do that our negotiators cannot do?

I am concerned she will say this is it. She will be our negotiator not knowing or understanding the nuances.

Undersecretary Katzenbach: I think it is good for Hanoi to know that the Indians believe they should do something militarily. The Indians have a function in this.

Secretary Clifford: If Mrs. Gandhi could make her views known to Hanoi, that’s good. This has to be worked out in Paris, I believe. I would welcome the Indian offer.

General Wheeler: Indians have been untrustworthy in the past. They could undercut the efforts in Paris.

Walt Rostow: Permit the Indians to say that it is our impression that DMZ would be a major concession for a cessation of bombing. We could also express our concerns over infiltration and Saigon. India would say it would assume operating responsibility for the policing of the DMZ.

Say this should be worked out between the parties directly.

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We gave the Harriman-Vance mission examples of what we considered taking advantage of the pause. The Indians can’t handle definition of what is meant by “demilitarization”.

Secretary Clifford: That makes a lot of sense to me.

The President: I have sympathy with that (Rostow proposal).

I don’t want another front from Paris. We should be cautious on this. All of you agree and come back to me on it.

Undersecretary Katzenbach: You could give very clear definition of what DMZ means.

1. Abrams’ Plan

Undersecretary Katzenbach: We have no problem except public relations one.

[Omitted here is a brief discussion of the Berlin crisis and the Non-Proliferation Treaty.]

8. Korean Civilians and Korean Light Division to Vietnam

Secretary Clifford: Pak will send 5,000 civilians at an exorbitant price. Wheeler says we could use the civilians.

General Wheeler: The price for 5,000 civilians is too high. We still have no assurance Pak is willing to go ahead with a light division. We will get $100 million for Korea.

[Omitted here is a brief discussion of ratification of the anti-ballistic missile agreement.]

  1. Source: Johnson Library, Tom Johnson’s Notes of Meetings. Top Secret. The meeting, which lasted until 2:30 p.m., was held in the Mansion of the White House. (Ibid., President’s Daily Diary)
  2. See Document 275.
  3. On June 15 Indian Ambassador B.K. Nehru informed Rusk that Prime Minister Indira Gandhi requested U.S. concurrence in her suggestion to the North Vietnamese leadership that, in return for the complete cessation of bombing by the United States, the DRV should give the Indian Government “a guarantee or assurance that infiltration through the DMZ would be immediately stopped and that Hanoi would agree to prompt and effective restoration of the DMZ.” (Memorandum from Bundy to Katzenbach, June 18; National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 27–14 VIET)