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Digital Archive International History Declassified

October 12, 1966

NOTE OF CONVERSATION BETWEEN FOREIGN MINISTER OF THE SOCIALIST REPUBLIC OF ROMANIA CORNELIU MANESCU AND UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF STATE DEAN RUSK

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    Following a Romanian delegation to the 21st Session of the UN General Assembly, the Romanian Foreign Minister summarizes discussions between the Romanian delegation and Dean Rusk, US Secretary of State.
    "Note of Conversation between Foreign Minister of the Socialist Republic of Romania Corneliu Manescu and United States Secretary of State Dean Rusk," October 12, 1966, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, ANR, Fond CC al PCR, Secţia Relaţii Externe, dosar 176/1966, October 10, 1966: f. 19-26. Translated by Larry L. Watts https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/122586
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Note of Conversation

October 5, 1966

On October 5, 1966, Corneliu Manescu, foreign minister of the Socialist Republic of Romania, attended a dinner offered in his honor by Dean Rusk, secretary of state of the United States of America, in the salons of the State Department at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, New York. The dinner was attended, on the Romanian side, by Mircea Malita, deputy foreign minister, and Gheorghe Diaconescu, permanent representative of Romania to the UN, and on the American side by A. Goldberg, U.S. ambassador to the UN, A. Solomon, undersecretary of state for economic affairs, and W. Stoessel, assistant undersecretary of state for European problems. S. Celac, third secretary of the MFA was also present in the quality of translator.

The conversations, which were took place before and during the course of the dinner as well as after the dinner lasted three hours and thirty minutes.

Dean Rusk said that, reading the newspapers, he noted that in the period since their last meetings, the Romanian foreign minister had a rich program of visits and meetings that continue also through the current session of the General Assembly. Likewise, the newspapers have remarked the current meeting as well, which has lent itself to all sorts of sensational interpretation, connecting it with other meetings that have taken place recently and going so far as to talk of a “conspiracy” for resolving the Vietnamese problem.

C. Manescu observed that, of course, the secretary of state also disposes of other sources of information, besides the newspapers. It is true that the newspapers manifest a lot of interest and a legitimate curiosity towards current events. The Foreign Minister related that this afternoon two American journalists asked him what problems would be discussed during his meeting with the U.S. Secretary of State. He responded that, probably, bilateral issues would be discussed as well as some international issues including, of course, the problem of Vietnam.

Among the meetings the Romanian delegation has had recently, worth mentioning is the reunion of the representatives of the nine coauthors of the resolution “Regional Action Plan for Improving Relations of Good Neighborliness between European States Belonging to Different Social Systems,” which took place at UN on October 4, 1966.

This reunion, based on the Romanian initiative registered on the UN agenda at the 15th Session, was adopted unanimously at the last session of the General Assembly. The objectives of the resolution are the establishment of a climate of détente and cooperation in Europe on the basis of developing relations between states on the bilateral and multilateral levels in all domains of activity. The group of coauthors includes two NATO countries, three member states of the Warsaw Pact and four countries who are not members of any military pact. The meeting, in which six foreign ministers participated, occasioned a useful exchange of views regarding measures that should be undertaken for promoting European-wide multilateral collaboration. The participants agreed to organize a new meeting at the level of foreign ministers in the capital of one of the co-authors, after a reasonable period of time, which would permit a more profound examination by the respective governments of the proposals and ideas formulated on this occasion.

Dean Rusk appreciated that the action undertaken is especially interesting, reflecting a real tendency of détente on the European continent. The government of the United States has a favorable attitude toward the positive evolution registered recently between the countries of the West and those of Eastern Europe. On this issue the Americans have only two reservations or, rather, observations:

a) The first refers to the German problem, which must be broached in all of its complexity, taking into account existing postwar regulations. “The fact that the United States was drawn into two world wars on the European continent because of Germany must be taken into account, and it cannot remain aside when the future fate of Germany is discussed” – D. Rusk said.

Although a certain stabilization of the situation in Central Europe has been realized, the German problem continues to constitute a preoccupation of the first order for U.S. policy. The American government has no preconceived notion of the manner in which a definitive regulation of the German problem may be reached. It is possible that the Germans in the East and those in the West will one day be in the situation of expressing their desire to live together, forming a single state. There is, likewise, the possibility that they reach an understanding to form two separate states, each with its affinities and engagements. The United States will not stand in the way of finally resolving the German problem through either of these variants, on the condition that the process of regulation develops through peaceful means, in conditions of the free expression of the will of the German population. In any case, it seems that the moment for realizing this definitive regulation is still rather far off.

In this context, the secretary of state remarked that, according to the information at his disposal, the relations of Romania with the Federal Republic of Germany have considerably improved in the last years, even creating the conditions for establishing normal diplomatic relations.

C. Manescu explained that, in truth, Romanian-FRG relations have known a positive development, West Germany represents an important western commercial partner for Romania. In the two countries, on the basis of reciprocity, there are commercial representation offices that have also recently been invested with consul functions. The Romanian Minister of Foreign Commerce has visited the FRG, where he was well received. Recently, the East German Minister of Economy, K. Schmucker, visited Romania where he was received by the General Secretary of the Romanian Communist Party, and by the president of the Council of Ministers as well as at the MFA. Regarding the full normalization of Romanian-West German politico-diplomatic relations, the only problem is that the West German government needs to disembarrass itself of the limitations of the Hallstein doctrine, which appears completely inappropriate to contemporary conditions, and the rigid nuances sometimes manifested in Germany policy should be renounced.

Mentioning that he would not desire his remarks to be interpreted as “an interference in the affairs of the Eastern bloc” or in the way the socialist countries conceive of their relations with the West, D. Rusk said that the United States views with sympathy the evolution of Romanian-West German relations. The Secretary of State explained that he is able to confirm the interest and desire of the FRG government in developing its relations with Romania.

b) A second observation with regard to intra-European relations refers to the perspectives for convoking a conference on peace and security in Europe. The United States has nothing against the idea of such a conference, with the condition that it be well prepared, because an eventual failure could have the result of creating a much worse situation than that currently existing.

On this point, D. Rusk remarked that the difficulties blocking the holding of such a European conference “between the countries of the two blocs” are well understood in the United States.

C. Manescu said that, as is known, Romania does not sympathize with the idea of perpetuating the division of the world into opposing military blocs, and considers that a genuinely healthy atmosphere in Europe and in the world can be achieved only along the path of the progressive and multilateral development of relations between states, which presupposes the exertion of persistent efforts on the part of the governments of all of the countries, great and small.

D. Rusk said that the examination of the problem of the blocs would imply review of all of the events that have occurred in Europe over the more than 20 years that have passed since the conclusion of the Second World War.

The American government pronounces itself firmly for the improvement of U.S. relations with the Soviet Union and the other communist countries of Europe. For that purpose a series of measures have been prepared or are in the course of elaboration and adoption that should permit the broaching of the problem of relations with the East on a larger basis.

The secretary of state reaffirmed the sincere desire of the U.S. Administration to develop relations with Romania as a priority, understanding that in this sense the creation of conditions for the expansion of bilateral economic exchanges is of fundamental importance. The draft law, following the adoption of which the President will be empowered to accord the “most favored nation” regime on his own assessment (which would include, in the first place, Romania), is already before Congress.

[…]

A. Goldberg intervened, saying that he sincerely appreciates the interesting policy of Romania, the contribution it has brought to the United Nations. In this context, he requested that the Romanian minister examine the possibility of the reconsideration of the Romanian government’s position regarding UN peacekeeping operations. Mentioning that for implementing the objectives of the UN Charter there was a felt need for an efficient mechanism for reestablishing calm and security in cases where peace was violated, A. Goldberg said that he does not understand what reticence could exist when, for example, both sides to a conflict voluntarily request the support of the UN, as happened in the case of Cyprus or in the Indo-Pakistan conflict.

C. Manescu presented the position of Romania towards the UN peacekeeping forces, explaining that, when goodwill exists, the countries in divergence can be helped to reestablish peace through means other than the sending of soldiers and arms into the center of conflict. This position of Romania springs from a sincere desire to avoid intervening in affairs that can be much better known, judged and resolved by the directly interested parties. In the concrete case of Cyprus, as the Romanian prime minister recently explained in discussions on the occasion of his recent visit to Greece, the attitude of Romania can also be explained through its desire to avoid being placed in the situation in which the taking of any eventual position could be interpreted as a Romanian intrigue instigated between two countries belonging to the NATO alliance – Greece and Turkey. Romania is firmly attached to the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of other states, which must be applied also in the case of peacekeeping operations.

D. Rusk said that the notion of non-interference, as in the case of other notions circulating in international relations, is susceptible to multiple interpretations. For example, there is incontestable proof that the Communist Party of the USA receives policy directives and important monetary funds from abroad (D. Rusk insisted on clarifying that he was not referring to Romania). Nevertheless, the American government does not publicize the information that it possesses, because that would lead to the useless increase of tensions and would unfavorably influence the maintenance of a climate of peace and collaboration.

The secretary of state underscored the utility and necessity of increasing contacts between the political figures of various countries in order to arrive at a better mutual understanding of their respective points of view, of commonly accepted interpretations of political notions with which they operate. If we could discuss openly, in a spirit of total frankness, clarifying “what stood behind various conceptions and actions of their governments,” a better atmosphere of mutual trust, in which the resolution of problems would become much simpler, would certainly be achieved.

C. Manescu explained that the Romanian government values direct contacts between statesmen, up the highest level, considering them an important instrument for assuring a climate of trust and collaboration. For example, when the American government request that Ambassador Goldberg be received in Romania as a personal emissary of President Johnson, the response of the Romania leadership was prompt and favorable. I should clarify that such a decision of such importance, for motives easy to understand, cannot be taken except at the highest level.

D. Rusk said that the American government understands and appreciates fully this Romania’s gesture of goodwill.

Intervening in the discussion, A. Goldberg again expressed his regret that he could not realize the visit to Romania and explained that, as was communicated, the visit was to occasion an exchange of opinions on the way in which a resolution of the situation in Vietnam could be arrived at. “We are all ears” – added the American ambassador.

C. Manescu responded that it would be, perhaps, more efficient if the American side first presented the considerations in this problem.

D. Rusk referred to the Declaration with regard to Vietnam, made at the [July 1966] Conference in Bucharest of the Warsaw Pact member states in which, along with some rather harsh remarks addressed to the Americans, an appeal was made to return to the provisions of the 1954 Geneva Accords regarding Indochina. If an equal dose of goodwill was manifested by all of the interested parties they could arrive in the shortest of times at the reestablishing the validity of those accords, modifying only the date of their signing. The only problem is whether the other side is also disposed to assume the obligations that derive from the Geneva accords. Up to the present the United States has made numerous attempts to establish modalities of communication with Hanoi and Beijing, through official channels, directly or along more circumspective routes, with the aim of examining the possibilities of convoking a new conference or establishing another framework of negotiation, however, all of these attempts remained without result. A proof of the responsible attitude of the American side is constituted by the fact that, when the Cambodgian government requested that the Geneva Conference be re-convoked, in regard to the guarantee of Cambodgian neutrality, the U.S. government immediately agreed.

In contrast, the response of Hanoi was manifested through the sending of higher numbers of men and arms into South Vietnam, by violating the demilitarized zone. At present there are two North Vietnamese divisions in the demilitarized zone, and the International Monitoring and Control Commission is blocked from penetrating into that zone in order to fulfill its attributes.

With regard to the content of eventual negotiations, D. Rusk said that the U.S.A. has declared itself in accord with carrying out discussions on the basis of the Four Points of Hanoi, with the reservation of clarifications regarding point three. Points 1, 2 and 4 present no problems for the U.S.A. However, it must be accepted that the United States would have to raise some issues within the framework of the negotiation. But these proposals also countered a position of ultimatum on the other side.

The United States interrupted the bombardment of North Vietnam in three periods: the first time for 5 years, then 5 days and again for 37 days. However, during the course of these interruptions not a single equivalent reaction was registered on the part of Hanoi. The last interruption of 37 days was twice as long as that suggested by one of the countries directly interested. (To the question of Minister C. Manescu, from whom came this suggestion, D. Rusk drew attention to the strictly confidential character of this information, and then responded shortly: “the Soviet Union!”). The reaction of Hanoi to this pause was contrary to that anticipated. The infiltrations of men and arms continued during this period with an even greater intensity.

Under these conditions the question arises, what would need to be done in order to create a framework favorable to the start of negotiations?

C. Manescu presented the well-known position of the Romanian government condemning the aggressive actions of the U.S.A. and supporting the struggle of the Vietnamese people. If on the side of the United States there is a sincere desire to reach a peaceful solution, a first indispensible step can be none other than a halt to the bombing against North Vietnam. Of course, the suspension of the bombing must not be conditioned or fixed for a limited time period of 5 or 37 days, without mentioning the fact that the period of 5 years mentioned cannot be invoked seriously as a “pause” in this context. The limited and conditional halting of the bombardment, with the imminent threat of its resumption can hardly be considered of a nature to create the necessary premises for the beginning of calm discussions.

D. Rusk asked if there is any guarantee that in case the bombing is halted, Hanoi will not respond with a new intensification of infiltrations into the south. (In the moment of formulating this question, on the part of D. Rusk and the other American interlocutors the tense attention with which they awaited a response was evident.)

C. Manescu responded that he could only repeat that the only step that the United States could make under the current circumstances was to suspend the bombing and to await what follows.

Likewise, the facts had shown that the effects calculated by the Americans through the start of the bombing campaign against North Vietnam had not been produced. Romania maintained close contacts with Vietnam, in the course of this year an important Romanian delegation visited this country, and contacts through official channels operate permanently. The opinion of the Romanian side, confirmed through direct contacts with Hanoi, is that the Vietnamese people and its leadership are determined to pursue the war until the very end, for the defense of the independence of their homeland. The fact must not be forgotten that Vietnam receives efficient assistance from all of the socialist countries. To rely on the fact that divergences among the socialist countries can impact the assistance that they accord Vietnam would be a grave error in calculation.

Regarding considerations of prestige, which is often invoked in connection with the eventuality of a U.S. withdrawal from Vietnam, the opinion of the Romanian side is that the higher interests of the United States would be much better served through a just resolution of the conflict than through the continuation and intensification of useless losses of human life. It is true that the U.S.A. has up to the present engaged in the war in Vietnam only a relatively small part of the gigantic military force it possesses, but it is equally true that the substantial increase of effectives and, implicitly, the widening of the war would represent a serious decision, with incalculable consequences for the peace of the entire world.

D. Rusk maintained that the U.S.A. does not desire to produce a new escalation of the war and qualified as “inventions” the reports regarding a supposed American intention to profit from the Vietnamese conflict in order to bomb and destroy the nuclear facilities of China. “Why should we now engage ourselves in a problem that must later be dealt with by the entire world, and especially by the Soviet Union? It is better to leave some difficult problems to future generations,” D. Rusk said.

C. Manescu said that one could suspect that the American government, while analyzing different variations of the evolution of the Vietnamese problem, also took into consideration the necessity of withdrawing U.S. troops even though this hypothesis might be the least desirable for it because it is evident, in the final analysis, that one day the Americans must leave Vietnam. In this sense, the manner in which the American side conceives the eventuality of its withdrawal from South Vietnam is of interest.

D. Rusk affirmed that in the first place the infiltrations from the north must be stopped, North Vietnamese troops must be withdrawn from South Vietnam and conditions must be created for the population to be able to decide their future by democratic means, through free elections under adequate international supervision. Just now General Ky has taken a series of measures meant to prepare the conditions for the transfer of power into the hands of civilian government. The constitutional assembly that was recently chosen is at present elaborating the basic law of the country, which will sanctify the principles for the free and democratic development of Vietnamese society. The reforms achieved and the measures regarding the return to civilian government enjoy broad sympathy on the part of the South Vietnamese population as well as on the part of Buddhist circles and from the Montagnards.

C. Manescu explained that the desire of the Vietnamese people to obtain and preserve their national independence is profound and genuine while their determination to fight for the fulfillment of their national aspirations is unbreakable. In this fight, the Vietnamese have proven that they are capable of making every sacrifice. What the United States does not understand is that the Vietnamese make these sacrifices with the profound conviction that they are serving a just cause, that they are defending their rights to build their destiny by themselves.

The question arises as to whether the United States truly intends to withdraw in the last instance from Vietnam.

It is evident that any calculation based on the maintenance of the Ky government or of other governments of this category, not to mention the real state of mind and attitude of the South Vietnamese towards the Americans, offers no optimistic perspective for what D. Rusk has presented as being the basis of U.S. policies in Vietnam. Surely, those who elaborate and conduct U.S. foreign policy are conscious of this.

D. Rusk affirmed that there is some ambiguity in the use of the designation Vietnam itself. There is, on the one hand, North Vietnam, which is part of the camp of socialist countries and has a distinct political system, and on the other, there is South Vietnam, to which the U.S.A. is tied through the 1959 Treaty of alliance. Already from 1960 the North Vietnamese have declared openly their intention to incorporate South Vietnam through force and they began sending men and war materiel into the south. At present the quantity of regular army troops operating in the south has risen to 19 regiments.

The secretary of state related a discussion he had with the Soviet foreign minister in which, to the question, “What would you do if the FRG sent 19 regiments into the GDR?”, Gromyko responded: “Of course we would give a riposte.”

The same problem arises with all of the divided countries, including Vietnam. In the case of these countries any violation of the established equilibrium can result in serious consequences. The United States is ready at any time to respect the interests of the socialist countries in North Vietnam if the same attitude is adopted toward the U.S. engagements in South Vietnam, assumed on the basis of the 1959 Treaty. If, however, Hanoi persists in its efforts to annex the south, then the Americans will see the need to continue giving riposte.

Returning to the suggestion that the U.S.A. should immediately halt the bombing against North Vietnam, D. Rusk asked at a certain moment: “That is the advice that you are giving us, but what advice are you giving the Vietnamese?”

C. Manescu said that so long as the aggressive actions of the U.S.A. are continued against the independence and sovereignty of Vietnam, the only advice that can be given to the Vietnamese people is that of continuing the fight until the end. The actions of the U.S.A. in Vietnam are condemned by the entire world. If the United States desires peace and quiet in this region of the world, they must adopt a realistic program, suited to the problems that require resolution, and in the first place they should stop the aerial bombardment against the D.R. Vietnam.

At the termination of the interview, D. Rusk expressed satisfaction towards the open and sincere manner in which the discussions developed and expressed the hope that they could be continued even during the course of the current UN session.

The secretary of state invited Minister C. Manescu to visit, if time will permit, some regions of the U.S.A. that he had not yet seen, as a guest of the Department of State. “We would be happy if you could make this visit, if not – we will understand and we will postpone it for another time” – Dean Rusk said on his departure.

12 October 1966

(signature) C. Manescu

19 exp.

Ed. S. Celac

Typist M.M. –

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