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

Mr. President:

Sect. Rusk and I met at 5:30 this afternoon to discuss Dobrynin’s message.

We talked on the basis of the attached memo to you from me (Tab A).2 Sect. Rusk believes that he should talk with you about this tomorrow (Saturday), preferably in the morning, or late in the afternoon, because he has a commitment to go to the baseball game tomorrow afternoon with the Diplomatic Corps—his only baseball game of the year.

Sect. Rusk will speak for himself tomorrow, but he seemed intrigued by the Soviet message. The two key points were the proper ones; that is, a schedule of Soviet troop withdrawals from Czechoslovakia and a formula for a bombing cessation and getting on with the Paris talks. We both agreed that there was, in fact, more in the Soviet Middle East message than this paper suggested (the suggestion of the [Page 707] belligerents signing a “multilateral” document of peace, and the idea of a Four–Power guarantee of the borders).

We talked reflectively about a possible formula for a bombing cessation. The attached cable from Paris (Tab B)3 shows Manac’h on the same line that Dobrynin was with me and which Burchett foreshadowed the other day; namely, that we have a bombing cessation in return for a protracted lull. Sect. Rusk speculated that if the President had assurances—either in Paris or via the Russians—that there would be no shelling across the DMZ, no gross violations of the DMZ, no attacks on major populated centers in South Vietnam, and an agreement that the GVN would become party to the post–bombing cessation negotiations, the President could say: “Against the background of the previous statements that I have made and on the basis of information available to me at the present time, I have concluded that a bombing cessation at the present time has a chance of advancing the cause of peace.”

In any case, Sect. Rusk will be turning this matter over in his mind and will be at your disposal tomorrow—or, if it is more convenient, on Sunday.

Walt

Set up meeting with Sect. Rusk

No

Call me4

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Rostow Files, Chlodnick File. Top Secret; Literally Eyes Only.
  2. Document 297.
  3. At Tab B is telegram 20830 from Paris, September 13. Etienne Manac’h was Director of Asian Affairs, French Foreign Ministry.
  4. None of the three options is checked.