152. Situation Report by the Executive Secretary of the Department of State (Read)1

Phone Call From Vance, 0645, October 30

1.
Vance had just consulted with Harriman and Habib after the regular Wednesday meeting.2 All were agreed that:
  • —the cessation and announcement should be 0800 Saigon local on the 31st (7 tonight our time). They believe this is far preferable to 2400 Saigon local.
  • —the date of the first meeting could be November 4 or later as the President sees fit. They will do all they can to get acceptance (and, from the previous call, are reasonably confident Hanoi would buy).
2.
They all also continue to feel that a response in Paris not later than 1100 our time is vital. At the tea break, Thuy repeated what Lau had said to Vance last night about dates and times—implying that the timing of the 30th for cessation and the 2nd for the meeting had great meaning to them. Thuy also made remarks to the effect that we spoke one way and acted another, clearly suggesting doubt of our good faith.3
3.
Bundy told Vance that his recommendation of a response in Paris by 1100 our time made things extremely difficult if Bunker had not been heard from by then. Vance's recommendation should be made in cable form with supporting reasons, so that the President [Page 446]could weigh it with all factors.4 We should also put our minds on whether there was any partial response that would ease things but not commit us till we knew where we stood in Saigon.
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Vietnam, Memos to the President/Bombing Halt Decision, Vol. III [2 of 2]. Nodis/HARVAN Double Plus. In an attached covering note transmitting a copy of this report to the President, October 30, 7:55 a.m., Rostow wrote: “Herewith the situation in Paris, including the tea break conversation. I do believe that, unless there is a break in Saigon within the next hour or so reported to us, we should have Vance tell Lau that: The ‘complexities’ referred to yesterday prevent our proceeding at 7:00 p.m. our time; we are still at work to resolve those complexities; we shall be in touch with them again within the next, say, 8 hours.” The notation “ps” on the covering note indicates that the President saw the report.
  2. The delegation reported on the meeting in telegram 23142/Delto 895 from Paris, October 30. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, A/IM Files: Lot 93 D 82, HARVAN-(Incoming)-October 1968)
  3. In telegram 23141/Delto 894 from Paris, October 30, Harriman and Vance reported the following: “Thuy said that for the DRV's part he would like to remark that the U.S. has been holding talks with an attitude which is not serious and not correct. The United States says things in one way and does them in another. When the DRV promises something, it carries it out.” (Ibid.)
  4. In a memorandum to the President, October 30, 7:30 a.m., Rostow noted: “Vance would like the cessation and announcement at 7 p.m. tonight. He believes an 11 a.m. tomorrow announcement would cause ‘real difficulty’, but he does not argue it would be turned down. (If they are serious they would, of course, accept either time.)” (Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Vietnam, Memos to the President/Bombing Halt Decision, Vol. III [2 of 2]) In telegram 23140/Delto 893 from Paris, October 30, Harriman and Vance wrote: “Pursuant to telcon with Bundy, we make the following recommendation. That we be authorized to say to Lau before 1600 Paris time this afternoon the following: ‘As I told you, we are working on the matter intensively. We hope to be able to resolve the matter in a manner satisfactory to both of us. We need a little more time and will be in touch with you as soon as possible.’” (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, A/IM Files: Lot 93 D 82, HARVAN-(Incoming)-October 1968)