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Digital Archive International History Declassified

October 12, 1966

NOTE OF CONVERSATION BETWEEN FOREIGN MINISTER OF THE SOCIALIST REPUBLIC OF ROMANI CORNELIU MANESCU AND FOREIGN SECRETARY OF GREAT BRITAIN GEORGE BROWN

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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 George Brown, Foreign Secretary of Great Britain.
    "Note of Conversation between Foreign Minister of the Socialist Republic of Romani Corneliu Manescu and Foreign Secretary of Great Britain George Brown," October 12, 1966, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, ANR, Fond CC al PCR, Secţia Relaţii Externe, dosar 176/1966, October 10, 1966: file 1-7. Translated by Larry L. Watts. https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/122588
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Note of Conversation

October 10, 1966

On October 10, 1966, Corneliu Manescu, the foreign minister of the Socialist Republic of Romania, had an interview with George Brown, the foreign secretary of Great Britain. Mircea Malita, deputy foreign minister, also participated in the conversations while, on the other side – Lord Caradon, the minister of state for foreign relations and permanent representative of England to the UN, and D. A. Greenhill, the assistant undersecretary of state for foreign affairs. Third secretary of the M.F.A., S. Celac, was also present.

The interview took place at the UN and lasted one hour.

G Brown declared that he is happy to meet the foreign minister of a country about which he has heard many good things from his colleagues, both in England and abroad. In particular, in discussions “with our common friends the Austrians,” who drew his attention to the extremely interesting evolution that has taken place in Romania. G. Brown affirmed the interest of England in the development of relations with the countries of Eastern Europe, adding that, after a necessary period of accommodation and penetration into the issues, he intends to act in this direction personally.

[…]

Lord Caradon presented, at the direction of G. Brown, the principal objectives of the initiative regarding the peaceful resolution of conflicts and the creation of a permanent UN mechanism of mediation and reconciliation. The English representative explained that Great Britain raised this issue before the UN, without pursuing any hidden agenda and animated only by the sincere desire to offer the international community an instrument for ameliorating divergences before they could be transformed into armed conflict. Mentioning that the English initiative, which is inscribed as a point on the agenda of the General Assembly, will be discussed in the commission, Lord Caradon addressed the Romanian minister with the request to re-examine this issue in hopes that it will lead his country to adopt a more favorable attitude. The English point of view is currently supported by a number of Latin American, Asian and African countries.

C Manescu said that the Romanian delegation will examine the English proposals attentively. On a personal note, C. Manescu stated that the English proposal seems to be somewhat after the event. Truly, it might appear strange to propose modalities for preventing conflicts during a period in which war is making daily ravages and thousands of victims in Vietnam.

G. Brown said that the English government is profoundly preoccupied with the evolution of the situation in Vietnam, which could imperil at a certain moment the peace of all of humanity. Between the English initiative and the Vietnamese problem there may not be an evident connection, however, the institution of the proposed mechanism several years earlier, with genuine global authority, would have impeded, perhaps, the evolution of things in such a serious manner in Vietnam. In essence, the major difficulty in the case of the Vietnamese conflict is constituted by the fact that things have reached such a degree of engagement of force and prestige that it is difficult to conceive of any drawing back without losing force and prestige. But the English initiative proposes exactly to offer a mechanism of reconciliation in a phase that has not yet reached such an engagement and through this to prevent the appearances of new Vietnams.

Regarding the Vietnamese problem properly speaking, G. Brown announced that in his speech for the following morning before the General Assembly he will propose a program for the peaceful resolution of the conflict. Without having the pretention that this program constitutes an infallible solution, one could say with all conviction that its achievement would have been of a nature to produce an equitable solution of the Vietnamese problem.

It is essential that in the current phase of the conflict to seek to distribute between the parties to the conflict the blame for the situation. What is required is that, leaving aside any invective and recriminations, practical ways should be explored for the liquidation of this focal point of war. For this, however, it is necessary that both belligerents should give proof of good faith and of a desire to work together in the interest of reestablishing peace and quiet. There are serious indications that this desire exists on the part of the Americans. One cannot say, however, that same thing about the Vietnamese.

C Manescu explained that he has a general knowledge of the English program for the regulation of the Vietnamese problem. Without entering into details of the content of the program, one could pose the question as to what the English side intends to undertake, having in view that one of the sides, namely Vietnam, has already pronounced itself regarding this program.

G. Brown observed that it would be normal for the friends of each of the belligerent parties to seek to advice them to adopt a more conciliatory attitude, because the maintenance of rigid positions can in no way facilitate rapprochement and final understanding.

Referring to the interview recently held with Secretary of State Dean Rusk, C Manescu explained that, without being able to call themselves good friends of the Americans, the Romanians have advised them to cease the bombing of North Vietnam. Without the unconditional cessation of the bombing, as an initial measure, it is inconceivable that the day is approaching when a resolution will be possible.

G. Brown said that at present it is not the Americans that have need of the advice of their friends. At present the ones holding to a rigid position are the Vietnamese. G. Brown related that in a recent discussion with A. Gromyko he again raised the proposal that Great Britain and the USSR, in their roles as co-presidents of the Geneva Conference with regard to Indochina, should convoke without delay a new conference. However, the Soviet minister, referring to the North Vietnamese position, completely rejected the proposal. It seems that it would be well for the friends of the Vietnamese to advise them to soften their position in order to permit the realization of a negotiated resolution.

C Manescu explained that the Romanian side is in permanent contact with Vietnam and knows well the firm decision of the Vietnamese people to fight until the end for the defense of their fatherland’s independence. Romania, as well as all of the other socialist countries, accords and will accord assistance and support to Vietnam in every increasing measure.

In circumstances in which the U.S. bombing and aggression against Vietnam continues, and at the same time unrealistic plans are advanced that do not promise the possibility of a just and equitable relationship, the only truly friendly advice that it could give to the Vietnamese is to continue the struggle, assuring them at the same time of the support of their friends.

At the conclusion of the conversation, G. Brown expressed the desire to continue the discussion begun on this occasion on one of the following days.

C. Manescu (signature)

October 12, 1966

10 ex.

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