323. Telegram From the Executive Secretary of the National Security Council (Smith) to President Johnson in Texas1

CAP 81812. By secure telephone from Paris, Ambassador Vance gave the following summary to the State Department of his two hour and forty-five minute private talk today with North Vietnamese delegate Lau:

North Vietnamese reaction to all six points of the Phase One-Phase Two proposal bordered on rejection of the entire concept.

Strongest objection was raised to our requirement that South Vietnamese Government participate in substantive talks to follow bilateral meetings.

Reaction was negative to four other points—restoration of the DMZ; level of forces in South Vietnam; substantive talks immediately to follow bombing halt; and no attacks on major cities. No reaction to the sixth point which offered to discuss additionally any other subject they wanted to raise.

The debate produced the fullest expression yet of Hanoi’s views. There was an inconclusive discussion of mutual withdrawal of troops. The Vietnamese did not mention their current public line which alleges that we stiffened our terms in the Honolulu communique and the Rusk press conference.

There was no indication that the North Vietnamese were preparing to break off the talks but the discussion left no room for optimism that Hanoi would accept our offer. Vance is pessimistic.

Full cable report from Paris will be relayed in the morning.2

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Vietnam, Harvan Misc. & Memos, Vol. VI, 8/68–9/68. Secret; Harvan; Plus. Received at the LBJ Ranch at 8:25 a.m. The notation “ps” on the telegram indicates that the President saw it.
  2. As transmitted in telegram 18992/Delto 556 from Paris, August 5. (Ibid., Harvan Chron., Vol. XVII, 8/1–7/68)