345. Telegram From Secretary of State Rusk to the Department of State1

Secto 4. NATUS. Subject: NATO Ministerial meeting; US-Canadian Bilateral Talk: Vietnam.

Subject of Vietnam occupied major part of Secretary’s talk with Martin December 11. Referring to UN possibilities, Secretary emphasized uncertainties of resort to Security Council. For example, he would prefer that Canada vote against inscription at beginning rather than find itself in position of having to vote in favor of resolution on unilateral bombing pause, but Secretary agreed that US could accept simple resolution on return to 1954 agreements.2

Martin said Belgian Foreign Minister Harmel had suggested to him December 11, that UNSC might discuss matter and then recommend mediator or representative of UNSYG be appointed. Secretary said US would not necessarily object; there are so many people active that one more would probably not get in the way. Martin thought Communist countries would probably not accept Harmel suggestion.

Martin then raised suggestion by Japanese Foreign Minister Miki. Although Canada had little confidence in Miki approach, Martin wondered if US would object to Canada raising subject with Poles. Secretary replied that US attitude is not to discourage anyone. Martin said Canada would continue to consult other countries before raising with Poles, and in any event wished to show a willingness to examine the Japanese idea.

Martin then referred to letter from Bebler who wished to stimulate meeting of Co-Chairmen and three ICC countries. Canada and UK accepted, but Kosygin and Mrs. Gandhi refused on grounds that there could be no negotiations while bombing of North continues. Bebler then tried to get around this obstacle by proposing an agreement that hostilities would “begin to stop” on a given date. Martin and Pearson thought it worth asking us whether such approach had any merit, i.e. that US would agree to stop bombing on such a given date.

Secretary replied that President’s San Antonio formulation gave US minimum position: Assurance of prompt and productive talks, US [Page 731] means something like three days and not three to six weeks. Hanoi reply was flat “no,” without even exploring meaning of US position. Secretary noted Hanoi in process of moving two new divisions south, and said Hanoi understands clearly what US means by not taking a military advantage. Communist “fight and negotiate” strategy means they seek to obtain cessation of bombing and then continue their military action.

When Martin inquired about possibility of bombing pause between Christmas and Tet, Secretary doubted that even if possibility existed, South Vietnam would wish to announce in advance. This would merely give Hanoi opportunity to make [illegible] preparations for intensive reinforcement and supply of units in South.

Martin then suggested that such a pause just before UNSC consideration could be meaningful; those opposing bombing would be faced with fact that bombing had stopped. This would force alteration of strategy for some countries, including Canada. Secretary replied that any pause would bring immediate question from Hanoi as to whether it has permanent and unconditional cessation. Since US would not answer this question, Hanoi would label the cessation “an ultimatum.”

Martin then discussed possibility of trying to keep Sihanouk quiet. Secretary pointed out that there is over one Communist division in Cambodia, and at least one major facility in northeast corner of country. We have provided information on Communist military activities out of Cambodia to Sihanouk, and he has been more quiet since.

Martin then raised question of safety of Canadian ICC personnel in Hanoi. Seaborn has become greatly concerned in recent days and also fears for Canadian courier plane. Seaborn reported that “it may be necessary to reassess our situation.” Secretary pointed out that US does not bomb Gia Lam Airport; that we use great care in bombing; and that some problems may be caused by “trigger-happy” people on the ground. Nevertheless, he asked Martin to provide detailed information as to location of ICC Canadians in Hanoi.

On subject of Eastern European states’ relations with Hanoi, Secretary noted that Yugoslavia is not particularly good channel, and that Gromyko had said that none of Eastern Europeans are effective.

  1. Source: Department of State, Canadian Desk Files: Lot 70 D 89, Vietnam 1967. Secret; Exdis. Secretary Rusk was in Brussels to attend the North Atlantic Council Ministerial meeting.
  2. Efforts to engage the United Nations in negotiations to end the Vietnam conflict failed as a result of lack of support for discussion of the issue in the Security Council. The National Liberation Front rejected the use of the Security Council as a forum.