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Digital Archive International History Declassified

January 13, 1967

TRANSCRIPT OF RECEPTION BY COMRADE NICOLAE CEAUSESCU OF THE FOREIGN MINISTER OF HOLLAND, JOSEPH LUNS

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    This document is the transcript of a conversation between Joseph Luns, Foreign Minister to Holland, and Nicolae Ceausescu, in which the two leaders discuss the Vietnam War and the suggested reasons that the United States is reluctant to withdraw from the conflict.
    "Transcript of Reception by Comrade Nicolae Ceausescu of the Foreign Minister of Holland, Joseph Luns ," January 13, 1967, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, ANR, Fond CC al PCR, Secţia Relaţii Externe, dosar 1/1967, January 27, 1966, f. 1-19. Translated by Larry L. Watts https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/122592
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    https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/122592

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January 13, 1967

Predeal

Participants at the reception were Corneliu Manescu, Foreign Minister of the S.R.R., George Elian, Romanian Ambassador in Den Haag and Joost B. Haverkorn van Rijsewijk, Dutch Ambassador in Bucharest.

The discussions began at 1830 hrs and lasted one and a half hours.

[…]

Cde Nicolae Ceausescu: Regarding Vietnam, you referred to the fact that the ending of the war would resolve the problem. I read with interest the intervention you made in parliament. We are convinced that here as well a solution must be found and that you could do more, advising the Americans to end the war. A country so large, with such military power, beating on a small, unarmed people! The Americans themselves are ashamed of it. I do not understand what conceptions could have led the Americans to conduct war there.

Mr. Joseph Luns: You see, the American people and especially the American government do not see in this conflict something in which only the fate of Vietnam is in play. I am certain that the Americans would resign, would withdraw from Vietnam, even if they would know that a regime to their liking would not remain in that country. However, what the Americans want, is that the U.S.A. be permitted to withdraw without dishonoring itself; in the sense that other Asian countries that have agreements with the Americans should not believe that they are completely abandoned by them. The Americans have said that they are ready, at the moment in which a solution is found, to withdraw their troops. I consider that North Vietnam is convinced that a military victory is within their grasp and I believe that the American government considers, I do not know if this is accurate, that North Vietnam desires only total victory. I believe that both are deluding themselves.

Cde. Nicolae Ceausescu: I agree that they are deluded. In the first place, there is no basis whatsoever to believe that Vietnam will renounce its independence, not to the Americans and not to anyone else. So from this point of view there is absolutely no point for the Americans to conduct a war for the reason of defending the independence of the Vietnamese, because, for the time being only American troops are there and no others.

Mr. Joseph Luns: It is a certain fact that the American army is predominant at the moment.

Cde. Nicolae Ceausescu: It is evident that the danger comes only from the side of the Americans and that, so long as the war is prolonged, the Americans will lose not only in North Vietnam but also in South Vietnam.

Mr. Joseph Luns: As I said also to Mr. Maurer, it is true that the unpopularity of the Americans has grown.

Cde. Nicolae Ceausescu: After that there is the problem of an honorable exit. What does that mean? That presupposes that those who have entered Vietnam should leave there. That is the most honorable exit. One could learn something in this regard from France, from De Gaulle who, under very difficult conditions, had the courage to put an end to the war in Algeria.

Mr. Joseph Luns: There are, however, some differences between the war in Algeria and the one in Vietnam.

Cde. Nicolae Ceausescu: There are, but in favor of France, because although it had very great economic interests there, it nevertheless found a solution that permitted it to remain in relatively good relations with Algeria. Why cannot the Americans do the same? They can remain in good relations with Vietnam and even better ones than today. The path to an honorable exit is in the first place that of ceasing the bombing against North Vietnam.

Mr. Joseph Luns: The Americans have done this gesture many times; they stopped the bombing for a period of five weeks.

Cde. Nicolae Ceausescu: Ceasing the bombing in today’s circumstances would offer them exactly the conditions for an honorable exit.

Mr. Joseph Luns: Herein lies the problem, in the mistrust between Vietnam and the U.S.A. For example, North Vietnam does not believe that the American army will depart from Vietnam after peace is realized, and the Americans believe that, on the contrary, the war will continue because of infiltrations from North Vietnam.

The argument that encourages the Americans in their current policy is that while many countries of Southeast Asia publicly rise up against the American policies in Vietnam, privately, however, they say that the Americans must remain there.

Cde. Nicolae Ceausescu: Certain political figures.

Mr. Joseph Luns: Yes, the leaders.

Cde. Nicolae Ceausescu: Of what are the Americans afraid, is it really the reunification of Vietnam? It will be a more powerful Vietnam, which will better defend its independence. Are they afraid that the communists will gain power? Communists do not eat people.

Mr. Joseph Luns: If you would be Vietnamese and myself American we could reach an understanding very easily.

Cde. Nicolae Ceausescu: I have had many discussions with the Vietnamese – both with those from North Vietnam and with the National Liberation Front of South Vietnam – and I have noted that they are understanding enough. I believe that the Americans are not conducting a realistic policy. They could reach an understanding with North Vietnam, however, not in these circumstances of continuing the war and the bombing.

Mr. Joseph Luns: I am not American, however, I have the impression that if Hanoi would give a sign that if the bombing ceased it would desire to begin peace negotiations, the problem would be resolved.

Cde. Nicolae Ceausescu: They also raised this problem, saying: “How can the Americans want us to enter negotiations with them when the bombing continues?” The first thing that must be done is to cease the bombing. North Vietnam is not against discussions.

During the Second World War, Holland was occupied. From what I know, Holland conducted a tough struggle during the occupation. Why did Germany, with all of its military force, not succeed in brining the Dutch people to their knees? Would the Dutch people have made peace with a situation in which half of Holland remained with Germany? Could you admit that The Hague would remain in Holland but that Amsterdam would go to Germany?

Mr. Joseph Luns: If there were no Russians then the Dutch and Belgian peoples would have been deported into the Ukraine, and the Ukrainians would have been thrown into Siberia. Holland and Belgium were occupied by Germany, however, as a result of war; the division of Vietnam is the result of the Geneva Accords.

Cde. Nicolae Ceausescu: But who broke the Geneva Accords? The Americans did not even sign them. From the beginning they started off from the idea that they would not respect them.

Mr. Joseph Luns: I think nonetheless that in the course of these six years, the duration of the conflict, the Americans have intervened more seriously only in the last two and a half years.

Cde. Nicolae Ceausescu: Because the Americans calculated that by maintaining troops there they could stop the struggle of the Vietnamese people.

Mr. Joseph Luns: I believe that the Americans deluded themselves, just like the rest of the world. It is true that in 1888, France conquered Indochina with an expeditionary corps of 30,000 men. However, today it is evident that the Americans could not defeat them militarily. On the other side, it is impossible for the Americans to be thrown into the sea in such a war.

Cde. Nicolae Ceausescu: But no one is proposing that.

Mr. Joseph Luns: A solution, nevertheless, must be found.

Cde. Nicolae Ceausescu: The solution is to sit down at the negotiating table, however, with a certain condition: to cease the bombing. In order for two people to talk, they must in the first place not be fighting. If Holland should say “aviation must first be sent to bombard Bucharest” [before our discussion], do you think that we would have received you for talks? Or vice versa? How then, could Dean Rusk meet with the foreign minister of Vietnam so long as the Americans bomb Vietnam.

Mr. Joseph Luns: I repeat that if the Americans had the certitude that the cessation of bombing would be followed by negotiations then they would cease them. This is a wall of mistrust.

Cde. Nicolae Ceausescu: Someone must nonetheless break this wall and who should that be? The one who is doing the bombing.

Mr. Joseph Luns: 11,000 inhabitants of South Vietnam were assassinated by terrorists and this is a horrible problem.

Cde. Nicolae Ceausescu: It is, nevertheless, a problem of Vietnam. Of course, there are many things that we could criticize and with which we are not in agreement. Look, for example, at what happened in Indonesia. But could we have resolved this problem by sending troops there?

Mr. Joseph Luns: If it could be proven that these killings occurred after the Americans arrived, that would be something else. Look what, in essence, the Americans have told us and the other NATO countries; “if you believe that it is acceptable that we should ignore our obligations towards a small country of Asia, then what would we do toward England or France? You cannot be a prostitute in Asia and a proper lady in Europe.”

Personally, maybe I am too optimistic, however, I believe that, step-by-step, things will move towards a peaceful solution.

Cde. Nicolae Ceausescu: Paths will be found, however, the Americans can be advised to reach this solution much more quickly. So long as the war is prolonged, things become more complicated.

Mr. Joseph Luns: On the other hand one can see the results: there is inflation in America. Especially since the adversary uses methods of fighting that are very difficult to counter.

Cde. Nicolae Ceausescu: If the money used for this war had been used instead for peaceful aims, they would have won many more friends in Vietnam. The principle is to develop the economy of this country even if communists come to power, because, in my opinion, this process cannot be impeded.

Mr. Joseph Luns: I am tempted to say you are right.

Cde. Nicolae Ceausescu: On the other hand, when communists come to power, they begin to appear as much more responsible people than when they are in opposition, because each is preoccupied with assuring the good of his people.

Mr. Joseph Luns: You know what the French say: a Jacobin minister is as rare as a minister Jacobin.

With these comforting words, I thank you for our long interview. This was the culminating point of my visit in Romania.

Cde. Nicolae Ceausescu: And I thank you for the discussion and I express the hope that you leave Romania with pleasant memories and that you will visit our country again. We hope that our relations will develop even more. We are a small country, with a different social regime, but we can cooperate and we can bring a contribution, even if truly small, to collaboration in Europe.

Mr. Joseph Luns: Our press would like to interview you. I express this request on behalf of the Dutch press.

Cde. Nicolae Ceausescu: Not an interview, but I can transmit a greeting to the Dutch people.

“I would like to express my satisfaction for the development of economic, cultural and political relations between Romania and the Netherlands. We consider that the relations between our countries can contribute to the climate of collaboration in Europe, in the interest of our peoples and of all the peoples of Europe, just as we consider that the collaboration between peoples of Europe, without regarding to political regimes, can contribute to the development of collaboration between peoples in the entire world, to the consolidation of peace.

The Romanian people, which is preoccupied with building an independent and ever more plentiful economic and cultural life, desires to live in peace and to collaborate with all peoples. I would like to wish the Dutch people prosperity and peace.”

Mc/2 ex.

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