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

Ambassador Bunker called on the secure phone at 2:40 p.m.

1.
He had spent seven hours at the Palace with Thieu, Ky, and Thanh.
2.
The GVN wants more time because their Security Council is not on board on the present draft joint announcement.2 The GVN feels rushed and believes we have given the Communists more time than we have given them.
3.
On the joint announcement Thieu feels that if it were put out in the present form he would be questioned why he has “good reason to believe that the DRV intends to de-escalate the war and to enter into serious and direct talks” and that he would have to explain his reasons publicly.
4.

However, if the joint announcement is amended in two respects, they would go with us on issuing the joint announcement at 8:00 p.m. EST tonight.3 The changes are: [Page 475]

(1)
Replace the third paragraph with the following: “President Thieu and President Johnson have reached this common decision because President Johnson has assured President Thieu that North Viet-Nam intends to de-escalate the war and to enter into direct and serious talks with the GVN and the USG on the substance of a settlement for an honorable and secure peace.”
(2)
Replace the first sentence of the fourth paragraph with the following sentence: “The first meeting of the direct talks will be convened in Paris at an early date after preliminary agreement on the basic ground rules of the talks.”

Note: The rest of the joint announcement should remain the same as presently proposed with the time changes as noted on the attachment in paragraph 1.

5.
If we could go along with their suggested changes, the GVN would not feel compelled to give public explanations about the DRV’s private “understandings”.
6.
If we cannot accept their amendments, the GVN feels it must go back to consult its Security Council further and would like another 24 hours.
7.
After prolonged argument the GVN gave up on its earlier insist-ence that we obtain DRV agreement that their side in the Paris talks would consist of only one delegation.
8.

Comments

Ambassador Bunker says he hopes we can give the GVN our decision in the next hour. If we cannot accept their amendments, we should give them an additional 12 hours—not the full 24 hours requested.4

Ben Read
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Vietnam, HARVAN/Double Plus, Vol. IV (1 of 2). Secret; Nodis/HARVAN Double Plus.
  2. An attached copy of the U.S.-GVN joint announcement reads: “President Lyndon B. Johnson of the United States of America and President Nguyen Van Thieu of the Republic of Vietnam announce that all air, naval, and artillery bombardment on or within the territory of North Vietnam will stop as of 8 a.m. tomorrow morning, Washington time. The two Presidents have issued the order to cease bombardment after earlier consultation with the Governments of Australia, the Republic of Korea, New Zealand, and the Republic of the Philippines, and with the Royal Thai Government. President Thieu and President Johnson have reached this common decision because President Johnson has assured President Thieu that he has good reason to believe that this action will bring about a de-escalation of the war and that NVN will enter into direct and serious talks with the GVN and the USG on the substance of a settlement for an honorable and secure peace. The two Presidents wish to make it clear that neither the Government of the Republic of Vietnam nor the United States Government recognizes the so-called National Liberation Front as an entity independent of North Vietnam.”
  3. In a memorandum to the President, October 31, 4:45 p.m., Rostow wrote: “I have checked on why Thieu wants 8 o’clock. It is simply: to complete the diplomacy; and give him minimum time to get his statement in shape in the light of that diplomacy. Although they should have been better prepared, they weren’t, and feel very hard-pressed for time. Bunker concurs in this request for 8:00 p.m.” (Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Vietnam, Memos to the President/Bombing Halt Decision, Vol. III [1 of 2]) The following handwritten notation also appears on this memorandum: “Cleared & OK’d by phone. WR 4:45 p.m.” According to the President’s diary, Rostow called Johnson at 4:38 p.m. (Ibid., President’s Daily Diary) No record of this call has been found.
  4. In a situation report, October 31, 3:15 p.m., Read wrote: “At Secretary Rusk’s request, I called Ambassador Bunker and asked him (not for conveyance to the GVN) whether he thought the GVN would agree to the insertion of the underscored words in the GVN’s suggested revised third para: ‘ … President Johnson has assured President Thieu that President Johnson has good reason to believe that North Vietnam intends, etc.’ … Bunker said he thinks he can sell that change to the GVN if we can buy their other amendments. He tried something similar earlier, but Thieu had asked him to submit the language in the form they recommended. If we accept their other changes he thinks he can get them to agree to our amendment without public disclosure of the ‘reasons.’ Bunker thinks the fourth para suggested by the GVN is not an ‘indefinite stall’; that they would show good faith in proceeding to join the talks reasonably soon.” (Ibid., National Security File, Country File, Vietnam, HARVAN/DOUBLE PLUS, Vol. IV)