45. Telegram From the Embassy in France to the Department of State 1

21737/Delto 788. From Harriman and Vance.

Thuy and Lau joined us at the tea break which lasted 42 minutes. Tho was absent from today’s meeting.2
After non-substantive conversation, we asked Thuy whether he had anything new to add to our conversations. He replied they had nothing new for their part but that they had just heard of statement by Vice President Humphrey.3 Thuy said as they read the statement it demanded reciprocity.
We asked if they had a copy of the speech and offered to make one available to them. Thuy said they would like a copy. We said we [Page 120]had not talked to Humphrey about the speech and that Thuy could read the speech and judge it for himself.
We emphasized that until Jan. 20th, President Johnson is responsible for US foreign policy and what candidates say is not important during this period. What is important from the standpoint of the DRV is what they are prepared to do to make it possible for us to stop the bombing. We said it was a mystery to us why the DRV wanted to go on fighting.
Thuy replied President Johnson has all the power in his hands. Why doesn’t he stop the bombing to settle the Viet-Nam problem?
We replied that the President has said that we would stop the bombing when we have reason to believe that the DRV is seriously interested in joining with us in de-escalating the war and is seriously seeking peace. We emphasized that we had told Thuy and his colleagues what we would do in and around the DMZ if the bombing were stopped and that we had heard what they had said and had concluded they knew what they would have to do on their part in and around the DMZ. We said we had also discussed with them the serious consequences which would happen if attacks were to take place against major cities. We said we had also discussed at length the fact that if there were to be serious talks after the cessation of bombing, represent-atives of the GVN would have to be included in such negotiations and the DRV could have whom they wanted on their side. We said this is a reasonable position.
Thuy asked for clarification of what we had said about DMZ. We said we had told them what we would do and we had heard what they had said and that we expected that they will know what to do in and around the DMZ if the bombing were stopped.
We said that they had repeatedly stated that they wanted serious talks, but their refusal to agree to the inclusion of representatives of the GVN in future negotiations has had an adverse effect on our belief that the DRV is ready for serious talks. That bothered us very much in our last meeting.4
Thuy replied that as Tho, Lau and Thuy had said before, they came with a serious attitude and have wanted to have serious discussions, but it was a matter of principle. They could not accept reciprocity. Accordingly, they had said that the United States should stop the bombing and then we can discuss many questions. We could even discuss the question of participation first.
We asked whether they had anything new which they wanted to say as Vance was going back to the United States this afternoon. Thuy replied that they thought their position was clear. They are prepared to talk with us after the cessation of bombing and, regarding the problems we have raised, to discuss the question of participation right away. We said as we recalled it, they had said that they would be willing to discuss it the next day, and Thuy replied that was correct. Thuy said he was convinced there were questions on which we will come to immediate agreement and others where through discussion we may come to agreement. We asked if the first question on the agenda was one on which we could reach quick agreement. Thuy replied that it is possible that it will be quick if both sides take into account the views of the other.
We said that Vance’s trip was routine but, if they had anything new, this was a good time for them to state it. Thuy said he would like Vance to tell the US side that the DRV wants peace, but that it wants a negotiated political settlement. Thuy said it is against the DRV’s will to make war, but if it is obliged to make war, it is their duty to do so and they will be resolute in the struggle. Thuy added that they wanted to end the war and the sooner the better, but on the basis that both sides take into account the views of the other. He said that their view is that there should be no reciprocity concerning the cessation of bombing. We then ended the conversation.5
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, A/IM Files: Lot 93 D 82, HARVAN-(Incoming)-October 1968. Secret; Immediate; Nodis/HARVAN/Plus. Repeated to USUN for Secretary Rusk.
  2. The summary account of the 24th formal session was transmitted in telegram 21742/Delto 789 from Paris, October 2. (Ibid.)
  3. See Document 40.
  4. See Document 32.
  5. In a memorandum to the President, which Johnson saw, October 2, 10:15 a.m., Rostow reported: “The classified telephone to Paris was not very good today, but this is what we have on this morning’s talk: during the tea break, Averell delivered, without the slightest ambiguity, our three points; the Hanoi delegation said it was interested in rapid progress after a total cessation of the bombing; they said that the question of GVN participation could be ‘the first order of business’; no private meeting was set for Friday.” (Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Vietnam, HARVAN Misc. & Memos, Vol. VI, 8/68-9/68)