284. Memorandum From the President’s Special Assistant (Rostow) to President Johnson 1

Mr. President:

Herewith a summary of Phil Habib’s telephone call about today’s Paris meeting, which ended at 9:30 a.m. our time.2

It ran four hours.
The formal statement from the other side was pure boilerplate.
The coffee break was “extremely interesting”:
  • —for the first time, Thuy suggested the coffee break;
  • —Vance and Habib were at the table with Thuy and Lau, their No. 3 man. (Tho was not there. The thought crossed my mind that he might be in Moscow.)
  • —Cy covered the two points that we wished to probe. First, the follow-up on Tho’s remark of last week that a political settlement should precede military action. Thuy responded that there could of course be talks of a political settlement after a total bombing cessation. Second, the A–B formula.
Habib says that it was clear that Thuy was anticipating Vance’s raising of this formula. Vance did so in line with the instruction which you cleared yesterday, in general terms. Thuy was obviously much interested but confined himself to stating that they would give it “most careful study.”

Thuy then made a procedural suggestion. At the next meeting, scheduled for next Wednesday,3 he urged that he and Harriman carry on the formal discussion, but that Lau and Vance meet separately but concurrently for the whole duration of the meeting rather than merely for a coffee break. This would, of course, substantially expand the opportunities for private exchanges. Cy said we would consider their proposal.

Cy then raised the desirability of more frequent private meetings rather than merely the Wednesday sessions. Thuy was not directly responsive but said this proposal “could be considered.”4

In short, we are apparently launched on an exploration directly of the A–B formula.
We shall be getting Cy’s own report of all this shortly, as well as his recommendations including, apparently, recommendation on how we approach the Russians during the coming week, perhaps via Zorin.
W. W. Rostow 5
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Memos to the President, Walt Rostow, Vol. 84. Secret.
  2. Full reports on the session are in telegrams 17021/Delto 343 and 17060/Delto 347 from Paris, June 26. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, IS/OIS Files: Lot 90 D 345, Paris Peace Conference on Vietnam, 1968–1969, Delto Chron.)
  3. July 3.
  4. In a memorandum to the President, June 26, 7:10 p.m., Rostow noted: “You will wish to know that after today’s meeting, a representative from the North Vietnam delegation approached a junior member of our delegation and asked if Cy Vance were willing to meet their man Lau at some mutually agreed place for discussion tomorrow of the proposition we put to them today. He said that if that was an impossible situation an informal contact would have to wait until the next formal meeting on Wednesday. Katzenbach and Vance are inclined to proceed. We believe that Vance’s standing instructions are sufficient to handle this contact.” (Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Vietnam, Harvan Misc. & Memos, Vol. IV, 6/16–30/68)
  5. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.