415. Memorandum From the Executive Secretary of the National Security Council (Smith) to President Johnson 1

Mr. President:

Secretary Rusk’s report of Ambassador Goldberg’s conversation with Secretary General U Thant was based on the attached summary of a telephone report from New York. The full memorandum of the conversation is not yet ready but will be available by morning.2

Bromley Smith

Attachment

Summary of Telephone Conversation3

SUBJECT

  • Hanoi Reply to U Thant’s Latest Viet-Nam Peace Proposal

Ambassador Goldberg talked to U Thant today about Hanoi’s reply to the Secretary General’s latest proposal.4 The Secretary General said the reply was delivered through Moscow.

The first point of the reply indicated that Hanoi had apparently thought that U Thant would not deliver his proposal to any other party until after Hanoi had replied to him. This was a misunderstanding: U Thant believes that he was told in Rangoon not to make the proposal public before Hanoi made a reply.

The second point made in the reply was that the first step proposed by U Thant (a stand-still truce) equated the aggressor and the victim of aggression and was advantageous to the United States. Hanoi made no comment on the second and third steps proposed by U Thant.

The third point in the reply was an expression of thanks for U Thant’s interest in and desire for peace, and an appreciation of his [Page 899]motives. The Secretary General’s interpretation of this is that Hanoi does not want him to carry on his efforts. He noted that this is the first written reply Hanoi has ever made to him.

The fourth point was the one made publicly that the U.N. has nothing to do with the Viet-Nam problem.

Ralph Bunche believes that the tone of the reply is friendly.

The U.N. interpretation is that nothing further can be done now, and that things must be allowed to settle down for several months. Ambassador Goldberg agrees.

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Agency File, United Nations, Vol. 7. Secret. An annotation on the memorandum indicates President Johnson saw it.
  2. A copy of the full text is ibid.
  3. Secret; Exdis.
  4. On March 14 U Thant proposed a three-step process to end the war: “(a) a general stand-still truce, (b) preliminary talks, (c) reconvening of the Geneva Conference.” For text of the proposal, see Department of State Bulletin, April 17, 1967, p. 624.