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Digital Archive International History Declassified

January 27, 1966

NOTE ON TWO CONVERSATIONS WITH THE MINISTER COUNSELOR OF THE NORTH VIETNAMESE EMBASSY, COMRADE HOAN MUOI, ON 26 JANUARY 1966, IN THE CUBAN EMBASSY, AND ON 27 JANUARY 1966, ON THE OCCASION OF A FAREWELL VISIT TO OUR EMBASSY [EXCERPTS]

This document was made possible with support from the Leon Levy Foundation

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    Minister Counselor of the DRV Embassy Hoan Muoi expresses his belief that there will be no international conference on Vietnam until there is a reconciliation between the USSR and China. He asserts that Kruschev damaged the world Communist movement, but also that China's objections to Soviet aid to Vietnam are unjustified.
    "Note on Two Conversations with the Minister Counselor of the North Vietnamese Embassy, Comrade Hoan Muoi, on 26 January 1966, in the Cuban Embassy, and on 27 January 1966, on the Occasion of a Farewell Visit to Our Embassy [Excerpts] ," January 27, 1966, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, PAAA-MfAA, VS-Hauptstelle, Microfiche G-A 332, 45-50. Translated from German by Lorenz Lüthi. https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/117729
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Comrade Hoan Muoi expressed the desire to meet the Cuban ambassador and me for a relaxed conversation in the Cuban embassy before his departure. It took place on the evening of 26 January 1966 in the Cuban embassy. On this occasion he also expressed the desire to visit me in our embassy on 27 January 1966 for a goodbye visit.

Contents of the opinions expressed by him on some questions and certain [pieces of] information:

[…]

2. On the proposal by the Polish party and on the letter[1] by [PUWP First Secretary] Comrade [Wladislaw] Gomulka:

This letter has been written in true “communist spirit,” and he considers it to be a sincerely intended document. As much as the Vietnamese party desires the implementation of the proposals mentioned in the letter, he believes that this is currently not possible. Vietnam will not participate in any international conference, which will not be attended by either the PR China or the Soviet Union. He considers the acceptance of the Polish proposal on the part of the CCP completely impossible. Anyway, the question exists that, if the PRC might even be ready to attend such a conference, its success is cast in extreme doubts. A failure of such a conference would have unfavorable consequences for the struggle in Vietnam.

3. On the visit of Comrade Shelepin to Hanoi:

Two political questions were especially discussed by the Vietnamese side during the visit of the delegation: the further strategy and tactics of the Vietnamese party for the struggle in Vietnam, and questions of the situation in the international communist world movement.

Regarding the first question, the Vietnamese party expressed its standpoint that it will continue the struggle against US imperialism decisively, and holds the opinion that this struggle will be terminated successfully with the support of all socialist countries. At the same time, the Vietnamese party is ready to start negotiations at an opportune moment, possibly combining negotiations with the continuation of the struggle for some time.

Concerning the second question, the Vietnamese party leadership stated that the Soviet Union itself especially has to try to normalize the relations with the CCP. Shelepin replied that the CPSU has already done everything, but without positive results.

The Vietnamese comrades expressed the standpoint that, nonetheless, the CPSU should improve relations especially with China but also with Albania and the Japanese Communist Party. In this regard, Vietnam cannot start a special initiative if such an initiative could raise the danger of a worsening of relations with China.

On this question he also wanted to express a personal opinion: Vietnam at the moment has to subordinate all questions to the conduct of a successful struggle against US imperialism. Each misstep could have grave consequences for Vietnam. A unilateral bond to either the Soviet Union or China would greatly damage this struggle. Both socialist great powers see questions of the communist world movement with different eyes and with a different attitude from the small socialist states. Both want to gain influence in Vietnam. According to his opinion—and the opinion of the Vietnamese party—China’s reservations against Soviet aid are unjustified. This aid is a significant strengthening of the Vietnamese position in the struggle against US imperialism and means in no way that Vietnam subordinates itself to the Soviet Union. Comrade Shelepin did not make any such conditions with regard to the increase of Soviet aid.

Khrushchev greatly damaged the communist world movement, especially with regard to relations with China and Albania. If the CPSU does not publicly evaluate Khrushchev’s mistakes, it will be very difficult to normalize relations with the PR China. Khrushchev’s mistakes had great emotional impact on the cadres of both parties. This feeling has to be taken into account in concrete politics. During a visit to the PR China, the Chinese comrades took him to the Soviet-Chinese border. He could convince himself how tense relations between the Soviet Union and China are. He could see strong military units on the Chinese side, on the Soviet side barbed wire, tall observation towers, and powerful floodlights which beamed far into the Chinese territory.

The only positive opportunity he sees rests in the increased support of all socialist countries for Vietnam. In the course of this joint support of all socialist countries for Vietnam and [in view of] the expected victory of Vietnam, relations could be relaxed and mutual trust slowly restored.

[…]

9. He deems all attempts by certain parties to mediate between the Soviet Union and the CCP, [or] between other parties, problematic. The experiences of a trip of a Hungarian party delegation to the DPRK and, among others, its stay in China had proven that such attempts have more negative than positive results.

[GDR ambassador to the DPRK Horst] Brie

[1] Letter was sent on 28 December 1965, announcing the arrival of a special envoy, Jerzy Michalowski, to Beijing and Hanoi with the purpose of starting international peace talks. Letter is in AAN, KC PZPR, XI A/10, 681-682.