305. Telegram From the Embassy in Franceto the Department of State 1

18283/Delto 486. From Harriman and Vance.

Yesterday afternoon, July 19, we met with Ambassador Zorin for about 45 minutes. Highlights follow.
Vance described briefly his trip to the US. We noted we had observed the decline in military activity in South Viet Nam but were unable to determine its significance at this time. We said we noted from captured documents and prisoners that a build up for a new offensive was in progress; yet at the same time there had been a marked decline in military action. We said we would watch carefully to see what happens on the ground in South Viet Nam. We commented that we did not anticipate any major decisions coming out of the Honolulu meeting.
Zorin then said that he had had a very brief conversation with Lau at a Soviet concert. He said that he had talked to Lau over the noise of drums and dances, so his conversation had been very brief.
Zorin said that Lau indicated two things made the North Vietnamese resist our proposal: first, we were still insisting that agreement be reached on Phase 2 before Phase 1 took place; and second, that there were matters of substance in Phase 2 which gave them problems. Zorin added that Lau had definitely displayed interest in what Vance said.
Zorin went on to say that Lau commented that US was laying great emphasis on reestablishing the DMZ, but what the US had in mind was not acceptable in the form in which Vance outlined it. He said that Lau said his impression was the US attached most importance to the DMZ, since they had put this first in their plan.
Zorin then took his usual hard line that we should stop the bombing and that progress would immediately be made in the talks. We countered this with the usual arguments.
Zorin asked if a date had been set for the next meeting, and we replied no, that the ball was in the North Vietnamese court.2 We said that we had presented concrete proposals which they said they would study. Zorin replied that he believed Lau would want to meet with Vance again; and that he (Zorin) would be seeing Lau and would discuss with him in detail Lau’s views with respect to the proposal made at Vance’s last meeting with Lau.3
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Vietnam, HARVAN, Paris Todel—Paris DeltoVIII, 7/11–22/68. Secret; Nodis; Harvan; Plus. Received at 9:23 a.m. The following notation by Rostow appears on the telegram: “For the President From Walt Rostow—Herewith Zorin chats indecisively on last Vance-Lau talk. He suggests a Hanoi interest in cutting down a straight DMZ deal, dropping other items, plus a Hanoi desire to avoid anything explicit.” Shriver’s assessment of the Harriman-Zorin conversation is in telegram 18279 from Paris, July 20. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, A/IM Files: Lot 93 D 82, HARVAN-(Incoming)-July 1968)
  2. The possibility of another Vance-Lau meeting was raised unsuccessfully during the tea break at the July 24 formal session. (Ibid.) A summary of this session is in telegram 18457/Delto 499 from Paris, July 24. (Ibid.)
  3. See Document 299.