65. Telegram From the Embassy in Ethiopia to the Department of State 1

827. De Gaulle.

Following conversation with President De Gaulle being reported protectively although assume contents known to Dept.
At reception to present Dip Corps to De Gaulle 2 this evening, General, after ascertaining I spoke French, asked to talk to me alone. I had deliberately not emulated my numerous colleagues who requested private conversations with him, but I was summoned immediately after Dean.
De Gaulle began by requesting I send his very warmest wishes to President Johnson. He added with a twinkle that the route to Cambodia did not go by Washington. I assured him I would transmit.
De Gaulle said he would talk about the Americans while in Cambodia. He added quickly that he admired and liked the Americans. There should be no question about that. But one must say what one thinks. And the Americans would thank him for it later. It was in their interest and in the interest of all that he would speak. I replied that US would thank him if his actions and words served both peace and justice.
De Gaulle said war must be ended. He asked me why the US did not just announce that it wanted peace, that it would stop fighting and that it would leave Vietnam. We did it, he said, why can’t you. It was not difficult to do. I asked what [he] thought would happen afterward if we followed his advice. “Afterwards,” he exclaimed throwing up his arms in well known gesture, “afterwards leave it to them.” I commented with a smile that I always found it ironic to hear a European of his generation advocate peace at any price. I had just returned from an extended period in Washington, I could assure him that President Johnson was passionately interested in ending the war and in peace. Then end the war, De Gaulle interjected. I replied that perhaps it was an American peculiarity but we could not simply walk away from commitments and responsibilities, particularly when they had implications that appeared to me to be far greater than those involved in Algeria in 1958. De Gaulle commented that he did not want the US to leave Vietnam at once but to announce its determination to [Page 130] do so and to halt the hostilities, then gradually phase out. Thus the way to peace would be opened. I asked why he if he were so interested in peace, he did not seek to convince the Soviets to call a peace conference instead and to end the fighting in that manner. Oh, he laughed, that route was a complex impasse.
Since his aides appeared nervous about extended conversation, I broke if off by suggesting others might wish to talk to him. De Gaulle said he wanted to be certain that President Johnson knew he extended his warmest wishes.
De Gaulle in top form and went out of his way to compliment US on what had been achieved since his last visit in 1953 to Ethiopia where he had today remarked on development for which US could take much credit.
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964-66, POL 7 FR. Secret; Exdis. Passed to the White House.
  2. De Gaulle visited French Somaliland August 25-26, Ethiopia August 27-29, Djibouti August 30, Cambodia August 30-September 2, and French Polynesia September 3-11. On this last stop, he witnessed a nuclear bomb test.