51. Memorandum From Secretary of State Rogers to President Nixon1
- Working Groups on Viet-Nam
That you establish a policy-level US/Vietnamese working group to be presided over by yourself and to include Mel Laird, Henry Kissinger, General Wheeler and myself; that the first session of this group take place early next week; and that subsequent meetings be held weekly, preferably on Tuesdays.2
During my conversation with you on the morning of June 243 I reported that President Thieu had proposed the establishment of US/Vietnamese working groups in both Saigon and Washington in order to assure a common strategy as we move forward. President Thieu [Page 112] regards such a suggestion as a logical outcome of the conversations which he had with you in Midway on this subject.
This memorandum contains my recommendations for the form in which I believe we should organize ourselves in Washington to meet this request. It does not address the matter of organization in Saigon, which I believe is best left to Thieu and Bunker to determine.
My first recommendation would be that we form a compact group at the policy level over which you would preside and on which Mel Laird, Henry Kissinger, General Wheeler and I would sit. You might wish to expand this unit to include one or two others, such as Dick Helms.
It would be my suggestion that this group meet once a week, preferably on Tuesdays, so that it can have a timely impact on the Thursday negotiating sessions in Paris. The group would also be available to be convoked in emergency situations if circumstances warrant.
Ancillary to this group would be the ad hoc committee on Viet-Nam which Bill Sullivan currently chairs. That group has representation from the White House, State, Defense, the Joint Chiefs, and CIA. An AID representative participates when his presence is needed. They currently meet three times a week or more often if necessary.
On the Vietnamese side, Ambassador Bui Diem is the principal representative here in Washington. I have already informed him that he should meet with Sullivan as often as is necessary. Their first meeting is scheduled for June 25. He has indicated his desire to discuss President Thieu’s proposed statement on a political settlement as well as tactics and timing for the Paris negotiations. I have assured him that representatives of the various US Departments and Agencies are available to him through Sullivan’s committee and that I myself or other Cabinet-level officials would see him if the situation warrants it.
If these recommendations conform to the views which you expressed in our conversation, I will arrange with Henry Kissinger to have this organization activated. I would suggest that the first session of the policy group take place early next week because I feel that we are pressed for time, particularly with respect to the statement to be issued by President Thieu.
- Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 138, Country Files, Vietnam, Vol. XIII. Secret.↩
- Nixon neither approved nor disapproved of this recommendation.↩
- According to the President’s Daily Diary, Rogers and Nixon met at the White House from 10:18 to 11:10 a.m on June 24. No record of their discussion has been found. (Ibid., White House Central Files)↩