The Foreign Secretary informed the Cabinet of the latest initiative by the President of the United States, President Johnson, to end the war in Vietnam - an initiative which took the form of an undertaking to restrict the United States bombing of North Vietnam in the hope that the reaction of the Government of North Vietnam would enable the United States Government thereafter to suspend the bombing altogether and so to satisfy the condition which the Government of North Vietnam had always attached to the launching of any negotiations for a peaceful settlement.
In response to a request from President Johnson that in our capacity as one
of the co-chairmen of the Geneva Conference on Vietnam, we should use our influence
to promote this initiative with the Soviet Union as the other co-chairman, he
had requested the Soviet Ambassador, M. Smirnovsky, to represent urgently to
the Soviet Government the importance of eliciting a favourable response to this
offer from the Government of North Vietnam.
If the latest United States initiative failed, public opinion in the United
States would be liable to revert to a less conciliatory attitude towards the
Government of North Vietnam and to press for an Intensification of the military
effort. We should not allow ourselves to be ranged, in that event, automatically
on the United States side; and we should therefore take the present opportunity
to prepare to move towards a position in which we were seen to be not unsympathetic
towards the United States but no longer in declared support of her policies.