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Digital Archive International History Declassified

April 28, 1966

TRANSCRIPT OF CONVERSATIONS IN BUCHAREST BETWEEN THE ROMANIAN SIDE AND MAURICE COUVE DE MURVILLE, FOREIGN MINISTER OF FRANCE

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    This document is the transcript of the conversation between Nicolae Ceausescu, Ion Gheorghe Maurer and Corneliu Manescu, and Maurice Couve de Murville, regarding the Romanian and French position on the escalation of the Vietnam War, and the resulting rising tensions between the United States and France.
    "Transcript of Conversations in Bucharest Between the Romanian Side and Maurice Couve de Murville, Foreign Minister of France," April 28, 1966, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, ANR, Fond CC al PCR, Secţia Relaţii Externe, dosar 64/1966, f. 2, 4-7. Translated by Larry L. Watts https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/122567
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[…]

Cde. Nicolae Ceausescu: The situation in Vietnam worries us a little, or better said, the intensification of aggressive actions by the Americans worries us, because they can draw other countries into their train, which would have very serious consequences.

M. Couve de Murville: I also discussed this problem with the President of the Council of Ministers [Maurer] yesterday and I noted that our points of view are not too far apart. The difficulty consists in finding what can be done, in order for things to advance in a positive direction. Even more so as there are two complicated problems, in succession, which are raised: There is the problem of Vietnam, where the action of the U.S.A. is truly regrettable, and behind the Vietnamese conflict is the beginning of conflict between the U.S.A. and France. It is exactly this that causes us disquiet. When talking of the danger of a world war we think to a possible conflict, with all of the consequences that would have for the other countries. And, of course, the attitude of Russia, which could not remain indifferent. This constitutes the most serious problem.

Cde. Nicolae Ceausescu: In this direction, in truth, efforts need to be undertaken to find the means for stopping the American aggression in Vietnam.

M. Couve de Murville: Negotiations should be organized on this problem.

Cde. Nicolae Ceausescu: But the Americans are not ready to recognize that they must renounce Vietnam.

M. Couve de Murville: Or rather, they are ready to discuss, but they are not prepared to accept the consequences of discussions.

Cde. Nicolae Ceausescu: Here, ways must also be found so that the Americans can be helped to understand that a resolution of the problem in Vietnam cannot be conceived of except through their departure from there. Whether the departure will be before or after the beginning of negotiations, that is another problem.

M. Couve de Murville: We are talking of a powerful country and because of that it is not easy. And, in such a situation it is not easy to accept a solution that would have certain consequences.

Cde. Nicolae Ceausescu: Any extension of the war will lead implicitly to a more and more powerful support for Vietnam from the socialist countries, without even saying that an eventual attack on China would have the support not only of the socialist countries but also of other countries.

M. Couve de Murville: That is precisely the problem: if the war is limited to Vietnam, consequences will not appear abroad; however, the danger is that this war will go beyond the limits of Vietnam.  I would not want to suggest in the least that this would not have a special importance for them. Certainly, this war could extend beyond Vietnam, as one can see in Cambodgia.

Cde. Nicolae Ceausescu: In this direction, perhaps France could do more.

M. Couve de Murville: It is very difficult to undertake something that would be effective. The French have discussed with the entire world and especially with the USA about this problem, but for he moment the Americans are not prepared, and this war will last a longer period of time. I do not believe that the Americans have the desire and even less the interest to extend the war, but no one knows what could happen, once a war is already begun.

Cde. Nicolae Ceausescu: In this direction, I believe that if as many countries as possible would act, to express themselves in a language that is not too diplomatic, to exert pressures in a certain form on the Americans, I am speaking in the sense of political pressure, The Americans could no longer ignore the general opinion of those countries. However, they find a certain understanding with some countries, which encourages them in their actions in Vietnam.

M. Couve de Murville: One could not say the contrary. It is very true that some western countries still support or appear to support the American position.

Cde. I. Gh. Maurer: From this point of view, the position of France is very well known, the position expressed publicly.

Cde. Nicolae Ceausescu: We appreciate very much the position of France and we consider it a very powerful input in the search for a solution to the conflict in Vietnam.

M. Couve de Murville: Truly, from this point of view it seems, France is the only western country that has complete freedom of action. However, as you can see, this is not sufficient for making things progress in a positive manner.

Cde. I. Gh. Maurer: The war continues, people suffer and die. Nevertheless, this problem must preoccupy the whole world, in order to convince the USA to stop the aggression against Vietnam.

Cde. Nicolae Ceausescu: We discussed this problem also on the occasion of the visit of President Tito to our country. Generally speaking, he manifests the same concern and points of view that are very close to ours regarding the means of resolving this problem.

Now, we are sending a delegation to Vietnam. We will also have a visit of Zhou Enlai here. We must act in the direction of blocking the expansion of the conflict and for putting an end to this conflict.

M. Couve de Murville: As a first step, there should be an understanding between North Vietnam and the USA. Given that North Vietnam cannot do anything without the consent and agreement of China, China could only follow a normal course.

Cde. Nicolae Ceausescu: There can be no talk of negotiations without the National Liberation Front of South Vietnam.

M. Couve de Murville: No one knows when and how a government will exist in South Vietnam, because at present there is nothing there.

Cde. Nicolae Ceausescu: In any case, I believe that France and Romania could contribute, in the sense of resolving this problem in a positive manner.

M. Couve de Murville: Each of us could help and we believe that it is well that we remain in contact and continue to discuss about this problem.

[…]

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