101. Situation Report by the Executive Secretary of the Department of State (Read)1
Washington, October 22, 1968.
Cy Vance called on the secure phone at 10:25 a.m.
- Oberemko (hereafter “O”) had just left. O said it seemed to him that things were moving “step by step” but with great difficulty towards an understanding.
- O had just seen Thuy and Lau and recounted to them the O/CV conversation of this morning2 and put to the DRV representatives the proposal he had already given to Vance. O said he would not give CV the whole conversation with the DRV but its essence. The DRV considered necessary two basic considerations: (1) That we accept the principle of complete and unconditional cessation of bombardment (and again O said it was up to us and the DRV to agree on the exact language); (2) if they would agree not to use the “four party” language they would be unwilling to have us use “our side/your side” language or “two side” language. The DRV agrees to the language suggested by the Soviets of referring to a meeting with representatives of the U.S., GVN, DRV, and NLF.
- If there is agreement on these two principles, the DRV is prepared to meet with us and try to work out a final agreement on the date of cessation on the 24th or 25th, and the date of the first meeting on the 1st and 2nd.
- O said he recommended to the DRV against a joint communiqué and they agreed. O said they would insist however on a secret minute. O said they really did mean to keep it secret.
- The DRV would like to raise with us in private discussion the question of how to agree to announce these actions to the press. Vance said this would raise a lot of problems and they could not hope to control what we say to the press and O did not demur.
- At the conclusion of O’s meeting with the DRV reps, the latter said “a final agreement on this matter is possible now; it is possible today”. O said they were taking “very seriously” the developments of the last 24 hours.
- O said the DRV was ready to meet with us any time today.
- Vance told O that he had been in touch with the Department and the period between the 24th and 25th and the 1st and 2nd was too long. O said if the U.S. has something that is less than that period we should come back with such a suggestion but he could tell us flatly that if we stuck on the two or three day proposal the DRV answer would “obviously be no”. O said if we wish to go back through him with a shorter time period suggestion he would deliver the message to the DRV but would not do so unless we wished him to.
- Vance asked what O meant when he said the DRV would not use the words “four party” if we did not mention the “our side/your side” or “two side” formula. Vance said it was one thing to assume the possibility of language in a secret minute which avoided either phrase but the DRV could not hope to control what we said or the GVN said publicly thereafter. O said the DRV was not suggesting that. O said he did not think the DRV expected us to abandon the public posture that the meeting was essentially based on the our side your side formula.
- Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Vietnam, Memos to the President/Bombing Halt Decision, Vol. I [1 of 3]. Secret; Nodis/HARVAN Double Plus. In an attached covering note transmitting a copy of the report to the President, October 22, 11:25 a.m., Rostow wrote: “Here is Cy Vance’s latest, plus a note of mine printed for the 12 o’clock meeting. The Russians are obviously trying very hard to pull this off—and in a hurry.” The notation “ps” on the covering note indicates that the President saw the report and the attached memorandum. Vance’s written report on the meeting was sent in telegram 22763 from Paris, October 22. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, A/IM Files: Lot 93 D 82, HARVAN-(Incoming)-October 1968) Rostow’s “note” is Document 102.↩
- See Document 99.↩