119. Telegram From the Embassy in the Soviet Union to the Department of State 1

1691. 1. Highly reliable source has given me following information about recent visit paid to Hanoi by Mayor of Florence, La Pira, with request that it be treated with great discretion. La Pira had given it to source when he stopped off in Moscow last week en route home from four or five day visit in Hanoi, where he had gone to promote North Vietnamese attendance at a conference hopefully to be held in Florence to which representatives of all faiths and ideologies will be invited.

2. During his visit, La Pira saw Ho Chi Minh, Pham Van Dong and other NVN leaders, and got impression that there had been distinct evolution in their attitudes toward the war. La Pira believes NVN leaders are now willing to stop all fighting if bombing of North Vietnam were to cease, giving rise to de facto cease-fire with all soldiers remaining in place a la Kashmir.

3. Re inter-faith conference, La Pira said North Vietnam had agreed to send representatives to conference and they would be willing to sit down with anyone there, including U.S. representatives.

4. Source described La Pira as a humanitarian and democrat. While not questioning sincerity of his belief about NVN readiness for cease-fire, he pointed out that he was not diplomat or trained reporter and consequently did not know how much weight to give his report which, I gather, will be conveyed directly to Italian FonMin by La Pira on his return.

Guthrie
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964-66, POL 7 IT. Confidential; Limdis. Repeated to Saigon and Rome.