128. Telegram From the Embassy in France to the Department of State1

22993/Delto 883. From Harriman and Vance.

We met 3:30 p.m. October 27 with Thuy and Lau for about 1 hour 15 minutes. Same people present on both sides.2
We opened with a statement urging the dropping of the idea of their proposal for an agreed minute.
Thuy replied by insisting on an agreed minute. He then said that in the interest of going forward to a quick settlement he was tabling a draft. He said that we had not been able to agree on the use of the words “without condition” in the minute. We had, however, said that they could make their announcement in any way they wish and that we would have no objection if they said unconditional. Finally he referred to a previous meeting in which we said that statements by the President or the United States Government related to the cessation of bombing would not use the word “conditional.”
He then tabled his text of an agreed minute as follows: [Page 363]
  • “1. The United States will stop all air, naval and artillery bombardment and all other acts involving the use of force against the entire territory of the Democratic Republic of Viet-Nam as of —— hours GMT on October —— , 1968.
  • “2. A meeting to find a peaceful settlement to the Viet-Nam problem will be held in Paris on November 2, 1968. The Democratic Republic of Viet-Nam has said that South Viet-Nam National Front for Liberation will be present, and the United States has said that the Republic of Viet-Nam will be present. Accordingly, the meeting will include the representatives of the Democratic Republic of Viet-Nam, the South Viet-Nam National Front for Liberation, the Republic of Viet-Nam and the United States.”
We asked for a brief recess and, upon return, we noted that they had dropped the phrase “on the basis of our discussions” in both paragraphs. We thought that the decision to put it in was wise and it should stay in both places. Thuy replied that this was not necessary because the contents of the minute were a result of discussions. This was obvious to anyone and it was not a subject worth arguing about for very long. They had suggested points which we had not found necessary and we had suggested points which they had not found necessary.
Thuy said that he would prefer that there would be no time specified for the meeting on November 2, as they were not sure what time they could get their delegations here. It was agreed, however, that the meeting would be as early as possible on November 2.
We said we understood what they had said and would take their proposal under consideration. We then settled the question of normal diplomatic usage in the order of naming countries. Names could be changed as each wishes in its own copy.
We recessed briefly and we then raised the question of the time of the cessation of bombing. After a brief introductory statement, Thuy said that there remained only the question of the interval between the cessation of bombing and the date of the meeting. He has communicated with Hanoi and the Front. The Front would have a long way to come. This was a reality which he suggested that we take into account. He asked whether it was possible that the bombing could stop earlier than October 30. We replied that we could not agree to that. Thuy then noted that we had suggested 1600 hours GMT October 30, and he then suggested that the time should be 0001 hours GMT October 30. He added that if it could be earlier it would be better.
We said that we would report his proposal to our government and will inform him of our reply as soon as possible. In response to our question of how late he would be available for a meeting, he replied he would meet at any time, day or night, when we had a reply.
We said that the announcement of the cessation of bombing would also include an announcement of the date of the meeting on November 2. Neither side would say anything publicly until the time of the announcement. They asked what the interval between the cessation of the bombing and the announcement would be. We said that the announcement would probably be made at approximately the same time as the announcement of the cessation of bombing. We would inform them in advance of that time. He asked that we inform him as soon as possible.
We closed the meeting by saying that we wanted to make it clear that we are not authorized to agree to their proposals. We would meet with them again as soon as we received instructions from our government.
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, A/IM Files: Lot 93 D 82, HARVAN-(Incoming)-October 1968. Secret; Flash; Nodis/HARVAN Double Plus. Received at 2:13 p.m.
  2. The full report of the meeting was transmitted in telegram 22994/Delto 884 from Paris, October 27. (Ibid.) According to a situation report by Read, October 27, Vance called the Department on the secure phone and stated: “We have now got everything we have asked for. We should accept. The times proposed for cessation fit well with the timing of possible announcements in Washington and Saigon.” (Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Vietnam, Memos to the President/Bombing Halt Decision, Vol. II)