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Peace Probes and the Bombing Pause: Hungarian and Polish Diplomacy During the Vietnam War, December 1965-January 1966

Archival materials from Budapest and Warsaw have shed valuable light on the role that Hungary and Poland played as intermediaries between Washington and Hanoi during the 37-day pause in the U.S. bombing campaign against North Vietnam in December 1965-January 1966. It is now possible to trace contacts between the East European countries and Hanoi and to see how the Hungarian and Polish governments coordinated their diplomatic activities with the Soviet Union. Although the new evidence does not reveal any "missed opportunities" in early 1966 for the opening of direct peace negotiations between Washington and Hanoi, it does cast doubt on the way that former U.S. officials and most historians have interpreted these events. Up to now, almost all accounts have dismissed Hungary's and Poland's efforts as insincere and deceptive, and some observers have even questioned whether the two countries were genuinely in contact with North Vietnamese leaders. The documentary evidence leaves many questions unanswered, but it permits a far more nuanced assessment of East European diplomacy during the bombing pause.

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