24. Telegram From the Department of State to Secretary of State Rusk at Saigon1

Tosec 69. For Secretary from Ball. Met this morning with President, McNamara, Taylor, McCone and Bundy to report on overnight events and activities. General agreement was in favor of efforts to try to restore tripartite neutral arrangement although President himself felt that we did not know enough to reach definitive conclusions. President in fact was a little unhappy that we had moved so quickly in issuing public statement in the middle of night categorically disavowing coup.2 My efforts to explain necessity for this were not fully persuasive.

As balancing action, we are seeking to get word to Hanoi and Peking through London, Paris and Delhi that our statement should not be interpreted as condoning any effort by Pathet Lao and/or Viet Minh to move against FAR or neutralist positions. Separate instruction on this being repeated to you.3

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President was anxious to get clearest reading possible of situation and was therefore insistent that Bill Bundy should pay brief visit to Vientiane before returning in order to bring home a first-hand report.4

We will possibly be meeting with President again later this afternoon but only if there is information or developments to justify it.5

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 23–9 LAOS. Secret; Immediate; No Distribution. Drafted and approved by Ball.
  2. See footnote 2, Document 22. In a memorandum of a telephone call between Ball and McGeorge Bundy, April 19, 12:30 p.m., Bundy told the Acting Secretary that it would have been better if the President had been called and given a chance to offer an instruction on the coup. Ball agreed. (Johnson Library, Ball Papers, Laos [4/19/64–11/12/65])
  3. Not found.
  4. In White House telegram CAP 64118 to Saigon, April 19, 2:03 p.m., McGeorge Bundy informed Rusk and Lodge that President Johnson wanted to detail William Bundy to proceed as soon as possible to Vientiane to consult with Unger and others and then make a report with recommendations. The telegram continued that the “confused situation and multiplicity of varying reports make President eager for first-hand review by senior Washington officer.” McGeorge Bundy concluded in the telegram that “no further public statements” were desired. (Department of State, Central Files, POL 27 VIET S)
  5. Printed from an unsigned copy.