116. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in the Soviet Union1

Todel 3727/1975. Subj: Your January 7 Meeting with Gromyko—Viet-Nam. Ref: Moscow 46 (Notal).2

Deliver at Opening of Business.

We do not believe that you should raise Viet-Nam with Gromyko. The Soviets have recently shown some concern at our alleged downgrading of Paris talks and some interest in probing further our intentions with regard to negotiations. Should Gromyko raise this question, you should suggest to him that Soviets discuss these matters with our Delegation in Paris which is fully empowered to discuss any serious proposals with other side.
If Gromyko persists and launches into usual Soviet presentation about unrepresentative nature of Thieu Government and desirability of coalition, you should respond along following lines:
The basic fact about political situation in South Viet-Nam is that the Communists represent only small minority of population. Non-Communists may be divided among themselves to some extent but the people are basically united in not wishing to be taken over by the Communist minority.
This is why neither United States nor GVN is afraid of truly free elections in South Viet-Nam. There are many ways of assuring that elections would be completely free and we are willing to talk about any of them. We would prefer that neither American troops nor North Vietnamese troops remain in South Viet-Nam during elections but even on this point we are flexible: both US/free world and DRV forces might be withdrawn to base areas within South Viet-Nam while elections are taking place.
Communists are doing badly in South Viet-Nam and would be well advised to negotiate while they can. Soviets should not be misled by false reports of Communist military successes. VC/NVA are consistently losing many times the numbers killed on our side even though there are now relatively fewer Americans engaged than before. These losses plus high number of Southerners defecting from other side during [Page 352] the past year have led to constantly increasing proportion of North Vietnamese in enemy ranks. This in turn leads population increasingly to regard North Vietnamese as a foreign occupying force driving more and more people into the arms of GVN. GVN control over countryside is steadily expanding and increasing in depth.
We can understand Communist fear that as a minority they might suffer persecution or discrimination during an election period and a non-Communist electoral victory. We believe there should be binding guarantees against such persecution or discrimination. These could be worked out in negotiations.
We are entirely willing to see NLF play a legitimate role in the political process of South Viet-Nam but only in proportion to the support they enjoy among the people. Idea of imposed coalition government is not acceptable. If Communists want guarantees against persecution and discrimination, there are other ways in which these can be secured.
Communists will find it far more difficult to negotiate a settlement after it has been demonstrated that GVN can hold its own without help of American combat forces. At such a time our own influence in favor of a compromise settlement would be less than it is today. Therefore, it appears to us that it would be in enlightened self-interest of any true friend of North Viet-Nam and Viet Cong to urge them to negotiate seriously and to seek political compromise while there is still time.
Material in paragraph 2 could also be used by U.S. representatives in other conversations with Soviets.
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL US–USSR. Secret; Immediate. Drafted by Kirk; cleared by Dubs, Matthews, Sullivan, Swank, and Eliot; and approved by Rogers. Repeated to Paris, Saigon, London, and New Delhi.
  2. Telegram 46 from Moscow, January 6, confirmed Beam’s appointment with Gromyko for January 7. No record of this meeting has been found.