154. Telegram From the Embassy in Romania to the Department of State 1
892. 1. Annual hunt for chiefs diplomatic missions in Bucharest held over this past weekend for first time hosted by President Council of State Chivu Stoica instead of Prime Minister Maurer. FonMin Manescu was second ranking Romanian official present and by way of background both he and Stoica went out of their way during two-day hunt and at final banquet at Chisineu Cris before departure special train back to Bucharest Sunday evening to pay special attention and to make friendly gestures to me.
2. About two hours after departure of train and as I was preparing to retire Chief of Protocol MFA knocked on my compartment door around 10 p.m. and announced President Stoica would like to see me in his private car. There I found him with Manescu, the Secretary of the State Council, Geamanu, and interpreter Celac who usually accompanies Manescu on his annual visit to UN. As far as I am aware I was the only chief of mission during entire trip to be accorded this type of private meeting. After some social conversation talk inevitably turned to subjects our bilateral relations and Vietnam.
3. Manescu took initiative by asking whether Americans properly understood Romanian policy. I assured him that U.S. Government well informed on Romanian policies and actions taken by Romanian Government in support its independence during past years though there were individual members of Congress and segments of American people who were probably not so well informed. I referred in this connection to pessimistic reports that Congress might refuse to pass the administration’s East-West Trade Bill this session thus continuing to deny Romanian trade MFN treatment. Stoica brushed this aside as something which would be solved in future; important thing was for U.S. to understand that Romania determined to follow independent course in its own national interest.
4. Manescu then began mildly complaining that I had not come to see him frequently, that while he profited by his discussion with “his friend” Secretary Rusk on occasions his visits to U.S., he never had had any follow up from me and he cited in particular the problem of Vietnam. He asked how many times I had taken initiative to call on high officials of [Page 421] Romanian Government and in this connection made reference to former British Ambassador in such a way that I can only assume he was implying that Romanians disappointed that I had never asked to call on Ceausescu. Glass was first Western Ambassador to call on Ceausescu which he did last January (see Embtel 734)3 on eve of departure for England of important Romanian economic delegation headed by First Deputy Prime Minister Birladeanu. Glass also called on Ceausescu prior to his definitive departure earlier this month. (Bucharest 828)4 I pointed out I had as customary for newly-arrived Ambassadors asked for and received appointments with whole series of top Romanian officials and last May I had called on him for general tour d’horizon subsequent to return of Bodnaras mission from Vietnam. True, Bodnaras had some two days later received me for first time (though he had been on my list of requested appointments submitted the previous December) a meeting which I assumed Manescu had arranged for which I thanked him. I had reported fully what Bodnaras had told me of his Vietnam visit. (Bucharest’s 1095 May 27)5 But I had not come to see Manescu frequently because I had no business of a nature which warranted my demand on his rather heavy schedule.
5. Discussion then turned to Vietnam and we went over familiar ground with difference this time, which may be important, that Manescu (Stoica let Manescu conduct almost all conversation on Vietnam) in context of referring to necessity of cessation bombing North Vietnam in order that peace talks could begin said “You always say you must have signal as to what would happen. What I tell you is the signal.” I probed as deeply as I could asking specifically whether this was based on recent contact with North Vietnamese. Manescu refused to be drawn out insisting that Romanians had continuous contact with them and that Romanians convinced information or “signal” he had given me was accurate. He specifically requested I convey this information to Washington. At one point during this dialogue Stoica intervened to emphasize that I should note Romania did not seek to blame either party for Vietnam situation; they were interested only in peaceful settlement of problem. Romanians realized U.S. prestige involved but Vietnamese had problem with “face” too. At another point both Stoica and Manescu responded in negative to my question whether import of what they telling me meant Romania offering to mediate. Conversation ended with Stoica and Manescu reiterating Romanian desire to have good relations with U.S.
6. Comment. I cannot know whether timing of meeting was calculated beforehand and based on new information from North Vietnamese [Page 422] or merely was conceived in the circumstance and they decided to have another “go” at the Americans on Vietnam. Nothing really new was said by any of us with exception of Manescu’s emphasis on the “signal” which we were awaiting.
7. In light of this and taking into account implication in Manescu’s remarks about my talking with high Romanian officials, Dept may wish consider instructing me to seek appointment with Ceausescu or Maurer or perhaps both together to go over Vietnam ground again and seek further clarification of why Romanians seem confident that cessation of bombing would bring about negotiations. Up to now I have deliberately refrained from seeking interview with Ceausescu, one, because he holds no government position only that of Secretary General of Communist Party and two, because I have always thought I should reserve such occasion for an urgent important subject or, as in the case of the British and since then of other Western Ambassadors, when a high level visit took place in Romania or a top Romanian delegation went to U.S.
8. If Dept thinks well of this idea I would go to Manescu and, referring to our conversation on train, ask on instructions to see Ceausescu or Maurer or perhaps both together in view importance which U.S. attaches to any development which could lead to Vietnam settlement. I suspect meeting would be quickly arranged and conceivably could throw more light on Manescu’s statement.6
- Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL RUM–US. Secret; Exdis.↩
- Beginning in spring of 1965, the dates and transmission times of all incoming Department of State telegrams were in six-figure date-time-groups. The “Z” refers to Greenwich mean time.↩
- Not found.↩
- Dated January 2. (Department of State, Central Files, POL 27 VIET S)↩
- Dated May 27, 1966. (Ibid.)↩
- No response was found, but Davis met with Ceausescu on February 3; see Document 155.↩