3. Memorandum of Conversation Between Secretary of State Rogers and the Former Head of the Delegation to the Paris Peace Talks on Vietnam (Harriman)1

This morning I saw Rogers.2 I had about a half-hour’s talk with him. I was very frank, telling him the need for a decision as to whether they were going to follow Rusk’s policy for all-out fight and talk, or mutual deescalation and disengagement through talks, in accordance with Clark Clifford’s view. I said Cy [Vance] and I strongly advised the second course for two reasons: (1) we thought the talks for political settlement would go better, although we couldn’t guarantee this, but [Page 4] (2) it was essential to reduce American casualties and get some of our troops coming home in order to retain the support of the American people. He appeared to agree with the latter point.

I told him about the help that we had been given by the Soviet Embassy in Paris, and he asked whether Lodge could establish that relationship. I said I thought he could if he tried. Certainly Walsh could, with Oberemko. I told him that Zorin had indicated some question of whether Lodge would want to talk to him because of their disputes in the UN. I said I had told him Lodge was very grateful to him for his attacks had made it possible for him to answer him on national TV which had made Lodge’s political career and gotten him the Vice Presidential nomination.

In answer to his question, I expressed a very high regard for Phil Habib. I considered his judgment was good, but as a loyal Foreign Service Officer he would carry out all policy directives effectively. I mentioned Ambassador Bill Sullivan and Ambassador Bill Porter as the two others I thought were sound on Viet-Nam. I expressed considerable concern over Bunker and Alex Johnson. We both agreed Lodge had adjusted his views.

W. Averell Harriman 3
  1. Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Harriman Papers, Box 562, Special Files of Public Service, KennedyJohnson Administration, Trips and Missions, 1968–1969, Paris Peace Talks, Memoranda of Conversation. No classification marking. Drafted by Harriman.
  2. On January 18 Habib wrote Harriman his impressions of the “new team” on the basis of two meetings with members of the Nixon administration and “a little browsing around.” Habib believed the Nixon administration had not yet focused on Vietnam, but thought they planned to take a careful and deliberate look at the problem. After a long meeting on January 17 with Rogers, Lodge, Kissinger, Bundy, Richard Pedersen, Walsh, and Green, Habib had the feeling that the Nixon team was still open-minded and he encouraged Harriman “to make your views known at the top level as soon as possible.” (Ibid., Box 12, Classified, H–Ham) On November 19 Harriman met with Lodge at Harriman’s house on N Street in Georgetown. He encouraged Lodge to treat Walsh as a co-equal head of the delegation as he had done with Vance. The North Vietnamese were very protocol minded and this status would not be lost on them. Harriman also mentioned that the Russians in Paris had been helpful and urged Lodge to call on Zorin and Walsh to develop a close relationship with Oberemko. (Ibid., Box 562, Trips and Missions, 1968–1969, Paris Peace Talks, Memoranda of Conversation)
  3. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.