164. Letter From President Johnson to Chairman Kosygin1

Dear Mr. Chairman:

On Sunday2 I heard from Ambassador Harriman and Ambassador Vance in Paris that an understanding has been reached with the representatives from Hanoi which has now, after some complexities among our allies, permitted me to order this evening a total cessation of the bombardment of North Vietnam starting early morning of November 1.

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In reaching the decision to go forward with this step, I have constantly borne in mind the communications you and I have had on this subject. It has mattered to me that you reported that you and your colleagues have reason to believe this step could yield good results and that we should have no doubts about the seriousness of North Vietnamese intentions in the pursuit of peace. Our recent indirect exchanges via Ambassador Dobrynin, and Secretary Rusk’s talks with Foreign Minister Gromyko in New York, played an important part in my decision, as well as certain communications from your representatives in Paris.

Now that the bombing of North Vietnam is stopping, I hope and expect the full weight of the Soviet Union will be thrown into the balance to bring very quickly a firm, stable peace to Southeast Asia.

With so many dangerous problems elsewhere in the world, it would be good for our two nations and for all humanity if this very dangerous conflict were behind us.

I would very much hope to see the Soviet Union exercising its full responsibilities as Co-Chairman of the Geneva Conference of 1962 to bring an early peace to Laos as well as to Vietnam. Without a full and faithful honoring of the Geneva Accords of 1962, there cannot be peace in Southeast Asia.

You will find us, in the days ahead, seeking to negotiate this settlement in good faith, asking of North Vietnam nothing more than loyalty to international commitments it has already formally undertaken and looking forward to the day when it can develop a good life for its people in collaboration with the other states of Southeast Asia.

We shall shortly be giving you our views on these matters in more detail. But I wanted you to have this prompt message about the major decision we have just made.


Lyndon B. Johnson
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Vietnam, Memos to the President/Bombing Halt Decision, Vol. IV [1 of 3]. No classification marking. Rusk passed the letter to Dobrynin during a meeting at 10 p.m. on October 31. (Ibid., Dean Rusk Appointment Books, 1968-1969) A memorandum of conversation of this meeting, dated October 31, was drafted by Rusk. (Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Harriman Papers, Special Files, Public Service, Kennedy-Johnson, Trips & Missions, Paris Peace Talks, Nodis for Harriman/Vance, HARVAN Plus: Cables Outgoing, #54-91)
  2. October 27.