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Digital Archive International History Declassified

October 05, 1966


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    This document is a transcript of a conversation between A. N. Kosygin and I. Gh. Maurer regarding the visit of the Romanian delegation to Vietnam and then China that discusses the suggestion that the Democratic Republic of Vietnam begin negotiations simultaneously while fighting, which both the Chinese and Vietnamese rejected, and the proposal that the socialist countries of the world communicate their policies toward Vietnam with each other, which the Vietnamese favored, but the Chinese rejected.
    "Transcript of Discussions with Representatives of the Chinese People’s Republic and The Communist Party of the Soviet Union on the Return of the Romanian Delegation from Vietnam (Moscow)," October 05, 1966, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, ANR, Fond CC al PCR, Secţia Relaţii Externe, Dosar 129/1966, file 22-32. Translated by Larry L. Watts
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October 4-5, 1966

Transcript of Conversations with Representatives of the

Communist Party of the Soviet Union on the occasion of the return of

Comrades Ion Gheorghe Maurer and Paul Niculescu-Mizil from D.R. Vietnam

Moscow, October 5, 1966

On the Soviet side the participating comrades were: A. N. Kosygin, member of the Political Bureau of the C.C. of the C.P.S.U., the President of the Council of Ministers of the USSR, I. V. Andropov, C.C. Secretary of the C.P.S.U., Kuznetsov, first deputy minister of foreign affairs of the USSR.

The discussions began at 1930 hrs.

Cde. I. Gh. Maurer: May I begin?

Cde. A. N. Kosygin: Please do.

Cde. I. Gh. Maurer: We have made a series of visits in several countries recently, generally in countries belonging to the North Atlantic Alliance. In all of these countries, among the issues we discussed with them, we also discussed the problem of Vietnam. We have had long discussions about this issue, something that led us to a series of reflections.

We have analyzed these aspects within the leadership of our party and we have reached the conclusion that we must sit down and talk with the Vietnamese about these reflections. Then we requested to see the Vietnamese comrades. Knowing that they have a difficult situation, that they are also engaged in fighting, we offered to go to Vietnam.

At the same time, we asked to see the Chinese comrades as well.

The Vietnamese comrades responded that they agree and asked us to come, but the Chinese comrades said that we have talked enough and they do not consider a discussion between us opportune.

Then we decided to go to Vietnam and we also request the right to transit here and in China. We passed through here, we arrived in Beijing and there, as we told you, we were met by comrade Chen Yi.

Cde. Paul Niculescu-Mizil: It was during their national day celebrations.

Cde. I. Gh. Maurer: Chen Yi excused Zhou Enlai, who was at the October 1 national day reception. That evening Zhou Enlai also came and we had dinner together and we agreed to meet again on our return to have a discussion.

In Vietnam we met with Pham Van Dong, with whom we held discussions, with Foreign Minister Nguyen Duy Trinh, also a Political Bureau member, and with Xuan Thuy, the head of the foreign relations section of the Central Committee.

What did we want to communicate to the Vietnamese? After that we explained that we made these visits, that the problem of Vietnam was discussed, that we generally met with an atmosphere of understanding regarding this problem, an atmosphere of understanding that, in case certain discussions could intervene, could constitute a very powerful support in order to exercise pressures against the Americans to yield what must be yielded, in the case of this conflict. We explained, at the same time, that all of these countries ask, why does Vietnam have this rigid attitude of avoiding discussions?

Faced with this situation, we calculated that it would be well that, without stopping the armed struggle, to begin talking. This would be a very advantageous solution. Admitting that the Americans do not want to yield and do not want to recognize the right of the Vietnamese people to decide their own destiny, these discussions would unmask the Americans, they would strengthen that part of American public opinion that stands against the war and strengthen generally the people who fight in Vietnam as well, because the American army would also know this and their position would be weakened.

Of course the discussions do not mean that the armed struggle must stop. It seems to us that the stopping of the armed struggle cannot take place before the Vietnamese people have the assurance of their right to decide their own destiny. But there is no reason for the armed struggle to impede discussions. They, the Vietnamese, have also used this tactic before, in their fight against the French, and the Algerians used it in their fight against the French, and it might have the advantage of impeding continued escalation of the war, that public opinion might be organized which could in the final analysis determine a favorable solution, a solution that recognizes the right of the Vietnamese people to decide their own destiny. This is the essence of the position that we presented. Of course, this was presented within the framework of longer discussions, because we discussed all day the first day and the second half of the second day.

Certainly, they raised an entire series of questions on many aspects. The result was that in the end they said that this idea was an idea that they were also thinking about, it is a very serious idea, that very soon they will thing and see what the possibilities are to act in this sense, but that they consider that the conditions are not ripe to do this at the present moment, underscoring many times, very insistently, that in the immediate future they will analyze this possibility I order to see in what form and when they must act. That was the discussion with the Vietnamese comrades.

In Beijing we met with the Chinese. We were received by comrade Zhou Enlai. Matters occurred in the following way. I replay this aspect because it shows a certain predisposition. The plane with which we came broke down and we could not leave with it and then we requested that the Chinese provide us a plane to go from Nanning to Beijing. They sent the governmental aircraft, the one with which Zhou Enlai flies.

Cde. A. N. Kosygin: We have given indications that our people, those we have in Beijing, to take a look at the aircraft.

Cde. I. Gh. Maurer: They will see.

But what did this indicate? This shows that the somewhat rigid disposition from the beginning had attenuated.

In the discussion with Zhou Enlai we presented what we said to the Vietnamese. We explained that we would present the same matter to you as well. We presented what we responded to the Vietnamese. We explained, at the same time, that we believe that this moment is appropriate for discussions. This was the only nuance [of difference] between the Vietnamese and us: they consider that the conditions are not yet ripe but that they will analyze the problem with all seriousness while we consider that the conditions for using this tactic are ripe.

Cde. A. N. Kosygin: Didn’t you make a concrete proposal with regard to these reflections? Didn’t you propose your mediation?

Cde. I. Gh. Maurer: No, and we do not believe that such a thing would have been logical or appropriate.

Cde. A. N. Kosygin: I am not proposing this, I’m only asking.

Cde. I. Gh. Maurer: We thought that it was good just to draw the attention of the Vietnamese comrades to the advantages of this position. However, they are the ones who must decide. We wanted to discuss the advantages of this position with them.

During the discussions, the Chinese comrades told us that they agreed with the current position of the Vietnamese, thus that the conditions are not ripe.

A second problem that we discussed with the Vietnamese and with Zhou Enlai was our belief that a modality of contacts between the socialist countries must be found for coordinating and discussing the Vietnam problem. There is no need for the socialist countries to agree on all problems that currently divide them, but at least on the question of Vietnam we should talk and see what might be done better.

The Vietnamese agreed to this, saying that they also believe it to be necessary. The Chinese said that they do not agree.

Cde. A. N. Kosygin: (With irony) The conditions are not ripe!

Cde. I. Gh. Maurer: On the contrary, they are ripe, but in the reverse sense. That is the entire performance that we gave.

Cde. Paul Niculescu-Mizil: It is worth saying that in the discussions with the Vietnamese, they asked us very many questions in order to clarify very well what we were thinking. The sense of all of their questions was the following: Do you want us to interrupt our war in the south? Do you, the Romanians, want us to conduct discussions that stop our activity for liberating the country? Of course, such questions were not put directly, but this resulted from all of the questions.

We said to them with a maximum of clarity that we supported their struggle, that we supported the goals of their struggle, that we saw no other way of ending the fight except, as comrade Maurer said, when the right of the Vietnamese people to decide their own fate is guaranteed; but that apart from the armed struggle more must be done on the political and diplomatic plane, which can only aid in creating favorable conditions from every point of view.

Cde. I. Gh. Maurer: What is our general impression? Our impression is that the Vietnamese will think about this very seriously, just as we believe, also as a general impression, that the Chinese will not want it.

Cde. A. N. Kosygin: What is your opinion about the position presented to you by comrade Pham Van Dong, in the sense that at present they do not agree to conduct discussions? Is that their own opinion or is it imposed on them from abroad?

Cde. I. Gh. Maurer: I have the impression that these people are thinking hard about when and how they should do this, thus they want to gain time in order to weigh things very carefully. They have noticed that the idea could be useful and that they must find the most appropriate form. That is on one hand.

On the other hand, the fact that they know the position of the Chinese, and that it still raises problem may be a factor.

It should be well understood that the struggle of Vietnam is based in principle on two external pillars; they are yourselves and China. You, because you have the material possibilities of supporting them very much and you have, at the same time, the political possibilities; China – because it is there and nothing can enter into Vietnam except through China. Not even the delegations, because I have the impression that the delegations will no longer enter there.

Cde. A. N. Kosygin: The delegations go there continuously.

Cde. I. Gh. Maurer: Well, it could happen that they go no longer.

Cde. A. N. Kosygin: There are also other ways.

Cde. I. Gh. Maurer: I have the impression that it is rather difficult to get to Vietnam without passing through China.

Thus they are obligated to take into account and to weigh, whenever they want to do something, how to proceed so that they do not spoil something. For example, I have two friends. My life depends up these two, but it so happens that these two do not get along. When I do something, I must do it in a way that does not anger either one or the other.

Cde. A. N. Kosygin: Didn’t you try and contradict Zhou Enlai in the sense that his point of view is not a just one! Or did you only discuss, without polemicizing?

Cde. I. Gh. Maurer: I had the impression that any discussion would have be useless. It would have been a discussion among the deaf, to put it one way.

Cde. Paul Niculescu-Mizil: You may recall that several months ago we had a long discussion with Zhou Enlai, on which occasion we expressed our positions to him in great detail. They were discussions in which we said: with this we agree, with that we do not agree. Then we raised the issue of a joint action on the problem of Vietnam. We explained that the Chinese point of view is mistaken. Thus, now there was not point to doing so. Otherwise, from the beginning we explained that we were expressing our point of view. It was equally clear for them and for us that there are different positions on both issues – both on the issue of the use of discussions for the resolution of the Vietnamese conflict as well as over the issue of joint action of the socialist countries on this problem.

Cde. I. Gh. Maurer: If the discussions had gone further, they would have been useless, having no sense.

The discussions with the Vietnamese were very detailed; many issues were analyzed.

Cde. Paul Niculescu-Mizil: In all of their aspects.

And they asked us: do you have something concrete, do you propose some concrete action? We told them that we are not proposing anything concrete, but that we only want to say that they are not using, aside from the armed struggle, the political and diplomatic possibilities that exist at the current moment, and that they are the first ones who should be thinking about this problem and seeing what must be done.

Cde. A. N. Kosygin: Comrade Maurer, we thank you very much for the briefing.

I must tell you that a month and a half ago when Pham Van Dong, the defense minister and other members of the [VWP] Political Bureau were here with us, comrade Brezhnev, comrade Podgorny and myself had discussions with them for three days in the Crimea that developed in the same way. It must be said that this was not our first discussion with the Vietnamese comrades. Earlier we also discussed with comrade Le Duan.

From these discussions it resulted that the situation is not ripe for the political resolution of the Vietnamese problem, that a much more favorable situation was necessary, one that does not yet exist today.

Our discussions were very long, they lasted three days, from morning until night, and they discussed every problem. And they told us that if at present the conditions are not ripe, that did not mean they would not study the problem.

Before you comrade Lenart was here, and he had similar discussions with the Vietnamese comrades in the same direction. On his return from Vietnam comrade Lenart met with comrade Brezhnev and with me and said approximately the same thing. They [the Czechoslovaks] even proposed Prague as an eventual center for conducting the discussions.

The Vietnamese said that the conditions were not ripe, but that they would continue to study this problem.

The day before yesterday the Vietnamese delegation led by Le Thanh Nghi left Moscow. The delegation was here for drawing up the documents referring to the assistance accorded to Vietnam. We signed an agreement with them worth 700 million U.S. dollars. We have done everything possible in order to help Vietnam, because we know the great difficulties that the Vietnamese people face

Of course, the conditions are very difficult. We have sent you a briefing, in connection with the discussions that we had with them. I don’t know if you have seen it yet or not.

Cde. I. Gh. Maurer: Yes, we saw it.

Cde. A. N. Kosygin: We proposed different variants to them for the resolution of the problem in the sense that its political resolution is not tied to the halting of the armed struggle. The fighting can be continued while, at the same time, trying to carry out discussion on this problem. We presented these matters to them in a very detailed way. They were serious discussions; all of the issues and even, to some degree, some concrete aspects were broached.

Nevertheless, they did not negate this possibility. In the last instance they said that they will not fight into infinity, however, they consider that at present the conditions do not exist in order to begin negotiations.

In order to undertake an important measure, everything depends upon them. There cannot be any other opinion aside the one expressed by the Vietnamese comrades.

You have given the example of those two friends. I say to you that the situation of Vietnam does not depend on any quarrel between us and the Chinese. There is no “quarrel” between us and the Chinese but rather a divergence of political principles. It does not refer only to Vietnam. This is not a quarrel but there are divergences between China and the other socialist countries; now there are divergences between China and Korea, between China and Vietnam, between China and Czechoslovakia, between China and yourselves, between China and Bulgaria, etc. So this is not a quarrel between two countries but divergence between China and a series of countries on issues of principle, issues, for example, which they raised in connection with the Cultural Revolution, having nothing to do with Marxism-Leninism.

We have done everything possible in order to satisfy the requests of the Vietnamese comrades, in order to assist them in their struggle. We firmly maintain this position and we will continue to do so.

Generally speaking I would say that the activity that you have developed in Vietnam, the work developed by the Czechs before you, the work that we have developed before the Czechs – all of these are activities are of the same nature; they are all directed to a certain point. All of these aspects of your activities, of the Czechs and of ours are mutually complementary. Given that we do not see from your presentation that there would be any different points of view but, on the contrary, we seem them as mutually complementary.

We also are of the opinion that all of this is aimed in the correct direction, raising the possibility of shining more light on the Vietnamese problem. We agree that this position of ours differs from that of the Vietnamese. The Vietnamese are of the opinion that the issue referring to the discussions must be reflected upon, the Chinese are not. As you have also demonstrated a discussion on this topic with them would be a discussion of the deaf, because they have a completely different opinion. That does not mean that we have one point of view and China another, but that China has one point of view while all the other socialist states have another point of view. Everyone, all of the communist and workers parties in the capitalist countries have the same point of view as we do, and as do you as well. The difficulty consists in the fact that China actively adopts a different position, an active position that exercises influence over the Vietnamese comrades. We do not have a common frontier with the Vietnamese. There are 40 Chinese divisions at the border with Vietnam, if they raise only a finger, it is understood.

Generally speaking, I believe that your visit was useful, that the work undertaken by you was important, directed towards the seeking of ways for the resolution of the Vietnamese problem, in a direction that corresponds to the interests of all socialist states.

Cde. I. Gh. Maurer: Nonetheless, we must hope that if the entire world speaks to them then these people will also begin to think and will, at some point, reach a more intelligent solution.

My opinion is that we must show understanding towards the Vietnamese, precisely because of the motive that you mentioned – the fact that China is their neighbor must be taken into account.



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