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Foreign Relations of the United States, 1969–1976, Volume IX, Vietnam, October 1972–January 1973

Editor:
John M. Carland
General Editor:
Edward C. Keefer

United States Government Printing Office
Washington
2010

Department of State
Office of the Historian
Bureau of Public Affairs



Overview

This volume documents the marathon four-day negotiating session between Kissinger and North Vietnamese representative Le Duc Tho in Paris (October 8-11, 1972). The peace agreement they reached was rejected by South Vietnamese President Nguyen Van Thieu. The United States attempted to convince Thieu that he was wrong, and in November Nixon sent Kissinger back to Paris to renegotiate 69 points on behalf of the South Vietnamese. The North Vietnamese, fiercely disagreeing with the U.S. move, decided that they too would renegotiate issues previously agreed to. By mid-November, the talks were on the verge of collapse. Consequently, the central goals of U.S. foreign policy over the next few weeks were to compel both South Vietnam and North Vietnam to accept, in its main tenets, the agreement that the United States had negotiated with the latter in October.

In the wake of unproductive December meetings, Nixon took one of his most controversial decisions: re-mining Haiphong Harbor and ordering an air campaign against the Hanoi-Haiphong complex. Nixon hoped to shock the North Vietnamese back to negotiations and remind the South Vietnamese that America’s commitment to the defense and survival of South Vietnam was contingent upon South Vietnam supporting the agreement. North Vietnam agreed to return to the negotiating table, and Thieu agreed to the new terms. In early January 1973, Kissinger and Le Duc Tho returned to Paris and in several days of hard bargaining ironed out the last details of the settlement. Titled the “Agreement on Ending the War and Restoring Peace in Vietnam,” the accords included a number of minor compromises negotiated in November, December, and January. In its essentials, however, it remained remarkably similar to the document that Kissinger and Le Duc Tho had agreed to in October.