143. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Vietnam1

262985. For Bunker from the Secretary. Confirming telephone call with Secretary,2 you are informed as follows:

The President has decided that he must proceed on the basis of the joint position agreed between himself and President Thieu as outlined in the joint communiqué and orders have been positioned accordingly.
We consider that we have gotten everything we asked or anticipated at this stage in the Paris talks.
Everything we have done has been cleared with President Thieu. The basis of the position, as set forth in Saigon’s 40178 and 402203 has also been cleared with the TCC’s.
We are astonished that the question of timing is raised as a last minute objection. Thieu had agreed to “next day,” and stated that the time interval of twenty-four-forty-eight hours caused no problem, and has agreed to a joint communiqué in which the time sequence is fully set forth.
We have disturbing information from political circles that certain political elements in the United States have attempted to intervene in Saigon; we also have one report that the same political circles have given indications to Hanoi that would be disastrous for South Viet-Nam. If these facts became known, the American people would react furiously and our joint effort with South Viet-Nam would be completely undermined.
President Johnson is President with full responsibility until January 20, 1969. He is the best friend which South Viet-Nam has in the entire world. He has tried at every step to keep in the closest touch with President Thieu and has acted together with him even on courses of action which have caused the President the gravest difficulties both at home and internationally. The President expects President Thieu’s understanding and full cooperation in the present situation.

[Page 421]

General Abrams concurs in this message.

Please see President Thieu immediately at the request of our President and obtain his concurrence with the program as presently outlined.

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, A/IM Files: Lot 93 D 82, HARVAN-(Outgoing)-October 1968. Secret; Flash; Nodis/HARVAN Double Plus. Drafted and approved by Rusk and cleared by Read.
  2. Rusk called Bunker on a secure telephone three times this day: at 6:05 a.m., 7:50 a.m., and 10:12 a.m. (Johnson Library, Dean Rusk Appointment Books, 1968-1969) No records of these conversations have been found.
  3. See Document 64 and footnote 2 thereto.