54. Telegram From the Embassy in France to the Department of State1

22106/Delto 805. From Harriman and Vance.

Le Duc Tho, Xuan Thuy and Lau joined us during the tea break, which lasted about 30 minutes.
After a few minutes of non substantive conversation, they said they would like to hear about Vance’s visit to the United States.
We said that Vance had returned directly to Washington where he met with the President and subsequently with Secretary Rusk.2
We said Vance had reported on the various matters which have been discussed in our private meetings here in Paris.
In accordance with understanding between Vance and Secretary Rusk to hammer first on issue of GVN representation, we followed the outline Vance had worked out with Secretary Rusk.
We said we could confirm as a result of Vance’s conversations in the US that the issue of the inclusion of GVN in the negotiations which would follow a cessation of bombing was utterly indispensable.
We said that each of us recognizes that the other has strong views on this matter. But the question is not whether the two sides like each other, but rather whether they are prepared to sit down together and talk about how to make peace.
We said we had already opened the door by agreeing to have the NLF or anyone else the DRV wishes on their side. We have made it clear that it is indispensable that the GVN participate on our side.
We said it was up to the DRV now to understand the realities of the situation. We added that all the crises that we have known about in recent years have been resolved by contact between the parties. We saw no reason why this situation should be any different from all the others.
We said we would like to know whether they had anything new to say on this subject.
Thuy said that we did not have enough time to discuss this subject at the tea break and suggested a private meeting. Tho then said, “If you want to discuss this matter further we are prepared to do so.” He added that speaking in the Majestic would not be convenient—gesturing toward the walls and ceiling. He suggested we fix a date immediately. Thuy said in this connection the position of the two sides are clear but since we wished to further discuss the matter, the DRV is willing to do so. Tho concluded by saying that what is necessary is goodwill and serious intent and that the DRV has such an attitude.
We then fixed the time and place of the meeting for Friday at 9:30 am at our house [1 line of source text not declassified].
We then gave Thuy a memorandum septel concerning Christmas packages for the captured pilots.3 Thuy said they would study it and give us their comments later.4
  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. Received at 11:25 a.m. On a covering note transmitting a copy of this telegram to the President, October 9, 1:15 p.m., Rostow wrote: “the most forthcoming business yet with Hanoi—but still utterly inconclusive.” (Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Vietnam, Memos to the President/Bombing Halt Decision, Vol. I, [3 of 3]) In a memorandum to the President, October 9, 10:15 a.m., Rostow summarized Vance’s initial telephonic report on the tea break meeting. (Ibid., HARVAN Misc. & Memos, Vol. VII) Jorden’s notes of the formal session are ibid., William Jorden Papers, William J. Jorden Notes, 25th Meeting. The delegation summarized the formal session in telegram 22109/Delto 807 from Paris, October 9. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, A/IM Files: Lot 93 D 82, HARVAN-(Incoming)-October 1968)
  2. See Document 49.
  3. The text of this memorandum is in telegram 22111/Delto 808, October 9. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, IS/OIS Files: Lot 90 D 345, Delto Chron.)
  4. In telegram 252815/Todel 1247 to Paris, October 9, the Department wrote: “It occurs to us that even if Tho is prepared to talk business on Friday, he may come up with conditions of his own that we have not yet considered, ranging from demanding some form of U.S. ‘recognition’ of the NLF as the price for including the GVN as part of our side, or proposing that the U.S. and GVN negotiate only with the NLF ‘but not Hanoi’ on matters pertaining to SVN, down to peculiar seating arrangements. Obviously, some conditions would pose greater difficulties than others, and we would want a chance to study any arrangement other than ‘our side/your side’ before indicating any U.S. position.” (Ibid., A/IM Files: Lot 93 D 82, HARVAN-(Incoming)-October 1968)