76. Information Memorandum From the President’s Special Assistant (Rostow) to President Johnson 1

Mr. President:

Herewith the Vance-Read telephone report of this morning’s meeting.

The message was delivered. Thuy said he fully understood the message. He considered that our insistence on the participation of the GVN the next day after a bombing cessation a “new condition.” Thuy had never promised to deliver the NLF the next day.

Thuy believes that the Politburo in Hanoi will reject this new condition. Nevertheless, he will pass along, in fullest detail, Harriman and Vance’s protestation and argument; namely, that the “serious talks” which are promised for the next day must, in our view, include the GVN and the NLF.

Thuy said there was an “outside chance” that, in the light of the fully detailed arguments of Harriman and Vance, the Politburo might accept our linking of “serious talks” with the GVN-NLF presence.

Harriman and Vance pushed hard for the earliest possible reply. Thuy could make no promise.

Lau made a very pointed warning about our not revealing the exist-ence of the private meetings.

Harriman and Vance commented that they had searched the record very fully and that, strictly speaking, Thuy has a point. We never stated flatly that the GVN must be present the day after the bombing cessation. What we did was to say that “serious talks” must begin the next day and there could be no “serious talks” without the GVN.

Therefore, in strict diplomatic terms, they do not regard Thuy’s observation as necessarily being in bad faith.

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Vietnam, Memos to the President/Bombing Halt Decision, Vol. I [2 of 3]. Secret; HARVAN/Double Plus. The notation “ps” on the memorandum indicates that the President saw it. Harriman and Vance’s written report on their meeting with Thuy and Lau was transmitted in telegrams 22486/Delto 830 and 22490/Delto 832 from Paris, both October 16. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, A/IM Files: Lot 93 D 82, HARVAN-(Incoming)-October 1968)