385. Telegram From the Mission to the United Nations European Office to the Department of State1

61. For Acting Secretary from Ambassador Goldberg. Subject: RE Viet-Nam.

I had hour’s private conversation with U Thant on number UN matters, but wish report promptly significant part of this talk as it relates to SYG’s primary preoccupation—Viet-Nam.
I smoked him out indirectly regarding any possible plans he might have to send Rolz Bennett to Hanoi and Peking in near future and I am satisfied based on what he said that he has no such present plans. It also became obvious during conversation that while there is no [Page 839] formal agenda for his talks in Moscow late this month, Viet-Nam would be one of the subjects discussed. I urged that he confine this discussion to support Prime Minister Wilson’s longstanding proposal that the co-chairmen join in reconvening the Geneva Conference rather than exploring SYG’s three-point peace proposals, emphasizing that as he knew his proposal for a unilateral suspension of bombing would not be acceptable to the United States. He in turn indicated that he really expected nothing more from the Soviets on this issue than a reiteration of their frequently stated position in support of the total program of Hanoi and the Viet-Cong.
I found SYG remains quite concerned as he has been for some time over the course of events in Viet-Nam. He remains convinced the course of the war in Viet-Nam will push the North Vietnamese closer to the Chinese camp which he maintains Hanoi has been resisting. SYG also remains convinced that Ho and Pham Van Dong do not want to be dominated by Chi Coms but that there are elements in the Communist Party, particularly its secretary, who lean in that direction. He said he has unverified reports that they will make a trip to Moscow, presumably before SYG himself goes there.
He also informed me that he had recent report from Algerians about which I indicated great skepticism, that during the last bombing pause Ho Chi Minh had advised UAR Ambassador that he had withdrawn some of his regular forces from the South as a concrete manifestation of Ho’s desire to move toward a negotiated settlement. I commented we had received no such indication to my knowledge from the UAR, and on the contrary our intelligence reports indicated a build-up by infiltration of regular North Vietnamese forces and supplies to the South. The Secretary General himself seemed to indicate skepticism concerning the Algerian report. Moreover I also pointed out the United States, having established direct contact with the North Vietnamese during that period, received no such indications from them.
SYG informed me that on recent visit to Italy Fanfani reported to him that Pol[ish] ICC Ambassador had had conversation with Ho Chi Minh on June 27 in which Ho presumably said that they would be prepared to engage in serious discussions with US, notwithstanding Chinese and Soviet objections, if bombing were suspended and if Viet-Cong participated in talks. According to Thant, this information relayed by Pol ICC Ambassador to Italian Ambassador in Saigon who in turn communicated it to Fanfani. Thant further reported that Fanfani believed message contained two new elements: (a) that Ho was not insisting on unconditional cessation of bombing, merely a suspension; and (b) Ho not insistent that Viet-Cong be sole representatives of South Vietnamese people at such negotiations. Fanfani had also told the Secretary General that he thought this message of such importance that it warranted sending a special Italian [Page 840] emissary to Washington to communicate the substance of it to United States officials. SYG said Fanfani did this and that special emissary was asked in Washington to remain there pending a probe through Fanfani of the word, suspension, and also to inquire what Ho meant by saying Viet-Cong would have to participate in the talks. Fanfani swore U Thant to secrecy and the Secretary General therefore imparted this information to me in the strictest confidence saying he had not communicated to anyone in Secretariat. He asked in particular that I not raise this with Fanfani, but if latter mentioned it to me, I should disclaim knowledge of it from SYG, except as I might receive knowledge of it from Washington.
Since I will be meeting with Saragat and Moro on evening of eighth and with Fanfani on ninth would appreciate receiving prompt guidance from the Department.2
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Agency File, United Nations, Vol. 4. Top Secret; Exdis. A note on the telegram indicates it was forwarded to President Johnson.
  2. The instructions were contained in an unnumbered telegram from the Mission to the United Nations in New York to the U.S. Mission to the United Nations in Geneva. (Department of State, U.S. Mission to the United Nations, Subject File, Reel 95, Frame 1553)