162. Situation Report by the Executive Secretary of the Department of State (Read)1
Washington, October 31, 1968, 10 a.m.
Ambassador Bunker’s Aide Gave me the Following Information on the Secure Phone
- The SVN National Security Council convened at 4:00 p.m. Saigon time (3:00 a.m. EST).
- At 8:20 p.m. (7:20 a.m. EST) presumably after the NSC had recessed, Ambassador Bunker was asked to go to the Palace to see Foreign Minister Thanh.
- Subsequently at about 10:15 Saigon time (9:15 EST) Bunker requested and obtained a meeting with President Thieu which is now going on.
- Bunker called from the meeting to request delivery to him of President Johnson’s letter to Thieu, which was sent over immediately.
- At the meeting with Thieu which is now going on Ambassador Bunker was also advised by our Embassy of President Thieu’s remarks at the ceremony for Unknown Soldiers, which occurred at a village ten miles out of Saigon at about mid-day after Bunker’s last meeting with Thieu in the morning. The Embassy officer did not know Bunker’s view of Thieu’s remarks at the ceremony (see AP 187).2
- The Embassy does not have confirmation of the radio reports that Lam is returning to Saigon from Paris.
- The Embassy officer confirmed that Saigon had received 8 rocket or mortar rounds in the last hour or two of which three were duds. There were two or three casualties, all Vietnamese.
- There are also reports which the Embassy has received of a limited amount of arms fire in Saigon at the present but none of the reports have been confirmed as an actual combat situation.
- Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Vietnam, Memos to the President/Bombing Halt Decision, Vol. III [1 of 2]. Secret; Nodis/HARVAN Double Plus. In an attached covering note transmitting a copy of this report to the President, October 31, 11:15 a.m., Rostow wrote: “Herewith an interim report of what has been going on in Saigon. The wrangle continues unresolved but Bunker is still in there fighting, armed by your letters.” The notation “ps” on the covering note indicates that the President saw the report.↩
- An Associated Press report in which Thieu stated that the termination of the bombing of the DRV was a unilateral act on the part of the United States. See The New York Times, November 1, 1968.↩