282. Notes of Meeting1



  • The President
  • Under Secretary Katzenbach
  • Secretary Clifford
  • Ambassador Ball
  • CIA Director Helms
  • General Wheeler
  • General Taylor
  • Walt Rostow
  • George Christian
  • Tom Johnson

Walt Rostow: The first item is the cable to Vance following up on Zorin-Shriver talk.

Under Secretary Katzenbach provided a copy of the cable (Appendix A).2

The President: Have they let up on civilian attacks on Saigon?

General Wheeler: It has been about four days since they have attacked Saigon with rockets.

The President: Is that significant?

General Wheeler: No, I do not think so.

Secretary Clifford: Could it be the lull before the storm?

General Wheeler: It sure could.

The President: I think it may be.

CIA Director Helms: I agree.

Under Secretary Katzenbach: The response time of Abrams to mortars is fantastic. It takes only 90 seconds.

General Wheeler: The 122 mm mortars have a range of seven miles.

Secretary Clifford: We hope the Russians won’t give them longer rockets.

General Wheeler: Saigon is 28 miles in size. It isn’t hard to hit.

[Page 812]

Under Secretary Katzenbach: Ambassador Harriman has a theory about the Soviets which has merit. There is no use in dealing with them anywhere except at the top.3

Walt Rostow: Proposal of language to India.

Ambassador Ball: We agree on the language.

General Taylor: Yes, I agree although all we are getting is old stuff about stopping the bombing.

The President: Does this sign us on to stop bombing if they do this?

Under Secretary Katzenbach: It comes close to it, but we have a way out.

If they agree to the DMZ, we will stop bombing. This is a complete demilitarization.

The President: Are you for this, Bus?

General Wheeler: Yes sir.

The President: Are we adequately protected?

General Wheeler: Yes sir. I believe so.

General Taylor: I would have difficulty with stopping the bombing in exchange for the DMZ. I don’t think we should equate bombing to re-establishment of the DMZ.4

Also, who will verify demilitarization of DMZ.

Walt Rostow: I have some uneasiness. It looks like a softer position than the one we gave Vance.

CIA Director Helms: I do not think a third party should decide what the Democratic Republic of Vietnam should assure us.

The President: Let them wait. Let’s see what Vance gets out of the other one.

Under Secretary Katzenbach: We can do that.

[Page 813]

Secretary Clifford: India as Chairman of the International Control Commission (ICC) will have some role to play in the final analysis. Maybe we should get them in on it now.

Walt Rostow: If the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV) will talk to us about conditions—as the Soviets tell us—we won’t need this section on conditions.

The President: I do not want to make a proposal to stop the bombing through India.

Walt Rostow: We now have language agreed to by all bureaucracy on Seabed project. (Appendix B)5

Ambassador Ball: We can live with this.

The President: What about the Pope’s appeal for a ceasefire?

Under Secretary Katzenbach: This thing has taken us off the hook here.

The President: Draft him (the Pope) a letter saying we have gone along with a ceasefire in fourteen points—in U Thant proposal, and in the State of the Union Message.6

[Omitted here is discussion of the Middle East.]

  1. Source: Johnson Library, Tom Johnson’s Notes of Meetings. Top Secret.
  2. The telegram to Vance is printed as Document 283.
  3. According to the Daily Diary, the President met with Harriman from 12:53 to 1:18 p.m. A notation in the Diary reads: “Amb. Harriman said he wanted to discuss the following items with the President: 1. The ‘Straws in the Wind,’ and the general outlook in Paris. 2. The need for Soviet help in getting private talks going and later to obtain their future involvement in the situation. He asked for the President’s guidance on these two subjects.” (Johnson Library, President’s Daily Diary)
  4. In a June 24 memorandum to the President, Taylor suggested making a formal proposal for dividing the peace talks into negotiations on political issues at Paris and those on military issues at a location in the DMZ. (Ibid., National Security File, Country File, Vietnam, 8 I, 1/67–12/68, Taylor Memos-General) According to a notation on an attached covering note from Rostow, the President directed that Taylor’s memorandum be circulated to both the State and Defense Departments.
  5. Not found. Reference is presumably to the U.S. position on an arms limitation initiative on the peaceful uses of the seabed and the ocean floor.
  6. No letter has been found. For documentation on correspondence between President Johnson and Pope Paul about Southeast Asia, see Foreign Relations, 1964–1968, vol. XII, Documents 301 ff.