124. Information Memorandum From the President’s Special Assistant (Rostow) to President Johnson1

Mr. President:

Herewith a lucid report from Cy Vance on a 5-hour hassle.2

On the three points:

  • —Agreement on the statement of participation and a good lucid reference to “prior discussions”;
  • —Some movement on “without conditions”; but the interjection of a supplementary sentence (marked) “Representatives of the DRV understand that this move is made without reciprocity”;
  • —They came down from a week to 6 days.

Comment: I do not know whether the Soviet Union will weigh in with them on the basis of my talk. But I doubt they have had a chance to weigh in. Nevertheless, the movements today suggest that they are trying to find agreement rather than merely to stonewall.



Situation Report by the Executive Secretary of the Department of State (Read)

Cy Vance called on the Secure Phone (10:15-10:30 a.m.)

Harriman, Vance met with Thuy and Lau at the latter’s place for 5 hours, starting at 0930 (Paris time).
Pursuant to instructions and Vance’s phone discussion yesterday with Secretary Rusk, Harriman and Vance made a major effort to get the [Page 352] DRV to give up the idea of an agreed written document, but the DRV continued to insist on an agreed secret minute.

Agreement was reached on essentially our language for Para B of such a minute as follows.

“B. On the basis of prior discussions, it is agreed that a meeting to find a peaceful settlement of the Vietnam problem will be held in Paris on (date and time). The US has said that the RVN will be present, and the DRV has said that the NLF will be present. Accordingly, the meeting will include representatives of the DRV, NLF, RVN and US.” (Note: new words underscored)3

On Para A, the DRV maintained its insistence on inclusion of the words “without conditions” which Harriman and Vance rejected. At one point the DRV suggested alternative language to the quoted words to the effect that “US representatives stated that President Johnson in statements concerning cessation of bombing will not use the word “conditional”, but they added a second sentence to the alternative proposal that “Reps of the DRV understand that this move is made without reciprocity”, and Harriman rejected this proposal.
Thuy again asserted that the time interval could be discussed when and if agreement was reached on the minute. However, after much discussion the DRV representative finally stated that they proposed that if we stop bombing anytime on the 27th of October, the meeting would occur on November 2—a six day interval. Harriman and Vance said 3 days was our outside position.
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Vietnam, Memos to the President/Bombing Halt Decision, Vol. II [1 of 2]. Secret; HARVAN Double Plus. The notation “ps” on the memorandum indicates that the President saw it.
  2. The delegation transmitted its full report of the meeting in telegram 22992 from Paris, October 26. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, A/IM Files: Lot 93 D 82, HARVAN-(Incoming)-October 1968)
  3. Printed here in italics.