29. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Norway 1

242960. Oslo for Davidson.


We are of course deeply interested in your 6685.2 You should express our appreciation to the Norwegians for the obvious care and persistence they are displaying.

At the same time, you should emphasize that exact detailed language could be of great importance in a serious exchange of the sort which may be developing here. While not necessarily demurring to the practice of jotting down points rather than taking full notes, we hope the Norwegians can retain and cross-check exact language used on critical points and that you will cross-examine to this end. Moreover, we may well wish to suggest their restating what they have understood DRV reps to say, so that it is nailed down and confirmed.

As we have already suggested, we also need full and exact account of what you yourself are telling the Norwegians on key points, and would appreciate exactly what you have already said in your first briefing on September 19.3 This again is for the sake of exactness.
In conveying to the Norwegians our requirements in relation to the cessation of the bombing, we assume you have made it clear that it is not necessary to get into such words as “conditions,” “reciprocity,” or other language that might run into consideration of face or prestige on either side. It is a simple fact of life that a cessation of bombing could not continue if the DMZ were not respected, if there were significant attacks on major population centers in South Vietnam or if North Vietnam refused to sit down in further negotiations which would include the Republic of Vietnam as one of the participants.
As to the DMZ, we get the impression—which may of course depend on your getting the fuller debriefing referred to in para 14 of your 6685—that the Norwegians may have conveyed the impression that we are concerned solely with the protection of US forces.[Page 74]Obviously, our concern extends equally to GVN and allied forces in the DMZ (and elsewhere).
Secondly, we are of course concerned not merely with firing across the DMZ, but with any movement of forces and equipment in and through the DMZ, or any massing of forces north of the DMZ. These are aspects that the Norwegians should already understand, and which we hope they in turn will be making clear. As you have already recognized, the one definite statement that emerges from your 6685 simply does not cover all the points that concern us.
This leads to a statement in your 6685 that we find both interesting and puzzling, namely, the next to last sentence of para 7. The reference to our stopping “bombing and shelling” has clear implications with regard to reconnaissance, while the reference to acts of war by NVN “against the US” is a wholly new wrinkle the meaning of which—particularly in relation to the DMZ—we simply cannot assess. This is another illustration of the vital importance of as nearly verbatim reporting as you can obtain and convey to us. Moreover, it is the kind of general expression that might serve as a vehicle for probing and for the Norwegians asking just what acts of war by NVN are meant to be covered by the statement, and what is NVN now doing that it would not be doing if the bombing stopped.
Another point that depends on exactly what was said and perhaps on further probing is the reference in para 2 of your 6685 in which the sentence about stopping the fighting in South Vietnam—as it appears in the sequence—could be taken to suggest the possibility of a ceasefire during negotiations. A similar suggestion cropped up in the Ohio channel in February, and the point is certainly worth probing a bit with the Norwegians to see just what was said. (We would not wish to have them pursue it with the North Vietnamese in any way, at least for the moment.)
Turning now to what you might be stressing with the Norwegians, our tentative advice—in the absence of your report of Saturday’s meeting—is that you must get across to them the importance of inclusion of the GVN in political talks following the cessation of bombing. You should make clear that this is not a condition, but rather a minimum description of what is required for serious negotiations such as the North Vietnamese appear to envisage. As you know, we are pressing this point hard in Paris at the moment, and it is important that the Norwegians include it very clearly in their presentation of our position in order, at a minimum, not to mislead Hanoi about our major effort in Paris to reach an understanding on the “your side/our side” formula. You should convey to the Norwegians the importance we attach to real understanding on this point.
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 27-14 VIET/OHIO. Secret; Priority; Nodis; Ohio/Plus. Drafted by Bundy; cleared in substance by Rusk, Katzenbach, and Rostow; and approved by Bundy and Read. Repeated to Paris for the delegation.
  2. Text in Document 25.
  3. Davidson met with Norwegian Foreign Ministry officials on September 19 to present the U.S. position on stopping the bombing. (Telegram 6634 from Oslo, September 19; National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 27-14 VIET/OHIO)