329. Telegram From the President’s Special Assistant (Rostow) to President Johnson in Texas1

CAP 81976. Herewith account of tea break in Paris this morning. As I reported by phone, the rest was rough propaganda.2

We met during tea break with Thuy and Lau for about twenty minutes.
We inquired about Le Duc Tho and were informed that he was well but was resting after his trip.

We asked about the return of the seamen and said as it was an act of good will we wanted to return them in the time and manner the DRV wishes.3

Thuy replied that the subject had been reported to Hanoi which will decide the matter in consultations in Vientiane. We said then we could relax here and Thuy replied we have other work.

We said that although no progress was made at last Lau/Vance meeting,4 we believe it would be useful to meet again. We said that we had a chance to reflect on the conversation as Lau had suggested. We did have a reaction to what had been said. Lau said you mean you will have comments on my comments. We replied yes. Lau said he thought in principle Minister Thuy would permit the meeting. Thuy said he agreed in principle but there must be something new. We asked Thuy whether he had any new suggestions on their side. Thuy replied that the DRV position had been clear from the start. The US must stop the bombing and we can then go on to other subjects.
We said at the last tea break there was talk of road blocks.5 We said it was the job of negotiators to seek to clear out road blocks. That is difficult to do in open sessions: it is more effective in private talks.
Thuy said that from the outset DRV had said that U.S. must unconditionally cease all bombing; on the U.S. side we have demanded [Page 954] reciprocity and restraint but the DRV cannot accept that and therein lies the obstacle. Thuy added that recent statements in the U.S. made the problem more complicated. We replied, maybe for you but not for us.
We said that we had not said that we had reached an impasse but rather a roadblock, and we should sit down and see if we can clarify the situation and reach an understanding. We noted that at the last Lau/Vance meeting Lau had said there were certain matters on which we were so far apart that he thought we could not reach an understanding.
We then referred to the Hien/Davidson/Holbrooke/Negroponte dinner and said we were impressed with Hien’s knowledge of the U.S. although we did not necessarily agree with his conclusions.6
We said that when Vance was in the U.S., he reported to and met with the President, the Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense and others.
We suggested that Lau let Vance know what a mutually convenient date would be for a further meeting. Lau said he would check his calendar.7
Thuy then inquired about the three pilots. We replied they are well and were happy to be back with their families. We said the military were satisfied with the way the pilots were returned and that we hoped that the satisfactory way this return had been handled would encourage them to release additional pilots.
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Vietnam, Harvan Paris Todel—Paris Delto XI, 8/11–31/68. Secret. Received at the LBJ Ranch at 2 p.m.
  2. Quoted below is the text of telegram 19450/Delto 598 from Paris, August 14. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, IS/OIS Files: Lot 90 D 345, Paris Peace Conference, 1968–1969, Delto Chron.) The summary report of the 17th formal session at the Majestic is in telegram 19455/Delto 599 from Paris, August 14. (Ibid.)
  3. See footnote 4, Document 300.
  4. See Document 323.
  5. The delegation’s reports on the 16th formal session were transmitted as telegrams 19131/Delto 566 and 19137/Delto 568 from Paris, both August 7. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, A/IM Files: Lot 93 D 82, HARVAN-(Incoming)-August 1968)
  6. The dinner with Phan Hien of the DRV delegation was reported in telegram 19329/Delto 587 from Paris, August 11. (Ibid.)
  7. In telegram 223146/Todel 934 to Paris and Saigon, August 17, the Department noted its desire to have Vance concentrate on the “our side-your side” formula during his next visit with Lau. (Ibid.) Regarding the August 19 Vance-Lau meeting, see footnote 2, Document 334.