79. Paper Sent to President Johnson1

Cabot-Wang Talks

Ambassador Cabot’s Comments on His Talk with Chinese Ambassador Wang in Warsaw yesterday:

In the one hour and forty minute meeting nothing new of significance was noted. In both content and delivery, Wang’s statements were less heated than they might have been expected to be under the circumstances—less, for instance, than after the Tonkin Gulf incidents.

Still, he claimed that an attack on North Vietnam was the same as an attack on China and made it clear, as he had previously, that China supports “wars of liberation,” including this one.

Wang did use some intemperate language, such as at one point, he called what I said re US policy in Vietnam “lies.” In view of my guidance, I did not respond in kind to the degree I might have otherwise. Also, in view of the tenor of the guidance, I conformed this time to its wording almost verbatim.

In this meeting, Wang predictably put on record Chinese views designed to justify intervention in case of future need. (In addition to the above, his claim is that we have now destroyed the demarcation line, and our bombing of North Vietnam has legitimized retaliation by the signatories of the Geneva agreements.)

I scarcely think his statement indicated that intervention is planned for the moment, at least. In fact, the most notable feature of the meeting was the relative lack of bluster or any show of confidence. Wang did not even attempt to prolong the meeting as he has done in the past, presumably to cause press speculation he had read the riot act to us. Upon entering the meeting room, too, Wang was, if anything, a little more friendly than usual.

The Chinese immediately accepted the April 21 date.

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Poland, Cabot-Wang Talks. Confidential. Filed as an attachment to a covering note of the same date from Bromley Smith to the President. A handwritten “L” on the source text indicates that it was seen by Johnson. The paper summarizes Cabot’s comments on the meeting, which he transmitted in telegram 1753 from Warsaw, February 25, a copy of which was also sent to the President with Smith’s covering note. (Department of State, Central Files, POL CHICOM-US)