111. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon1


  • Response from Ho Chi Minh

Attached is a translation of the response from Ho Chi Minh, received in Paris on August 30, 1969.

It is a very tough, almost insolent, message. It states only what the U.S. must do. It makes demands but no concessions. Although addressed to the President of the United States, it refers to “American governing circles.” If one wished to look for silver linings, one could find some hope in the fact that this is the first communication we have received that has not linked the word “unconditional” with the call for our withdrawal from Vietnam. The last paragraph is rather conciliatory, although probably for the sake of symmetry.

The letter is disappointing in content, but does have the virtue that it can help demonstrate the necessity of whatever actions are taken in November.


Letter From North Vietnamese President Ho Chi Minh to President Nixon

I have the honor to acknowledge receipt of your letter.2

The war of aggression of the United States against our people, violating our fundamental national rights, still continues in South Vietnam. The United States continues to intensify military operations, the B–52 bombings3 and the use of toxic chemical products multiply [Page 352] the crimes against the Vietnamese people. The longer the war goes on, the more it accumulates the mourning and burdens of the American people. I am extremely indignant at the losses and destructions caused by the American troops to our people and our country. I am also deeply touched at the rising toll of death of young Americans who have fallen in Vietnam by reason of the policy of American governing circles.

Our Vietnamese people are deeply devoted to peace, a real peace with independence and real freedom. They are determined to fight to the end, without fearing the sacrifices and difficulties in order to defend their country and their sacred national rights.4 The overall solution in ten points of the National Liberation Front of South Vietnam and of the Provisional Revolutionary Government of the Republic of South Vietnam is a logical and reasonable basis for the settlement of the Vietnamese problem. It has earned the sympathy and support of the peoples of the world.

In your letter you have expressed the desire to act for a just peace. For this the United States must cease the war of aggression and withdraw their troops from South Vietnam, respect the right of the population of the South and of the Vietnamese nation to decide for themselves, without foreign influence.5 This is the correct manner of solving the Vietnamese problem in conformity with the national rights of the Vietnamese people, the interests of the United States and the hopes for peace of the peoples of the world. This is the path that will allow the United States to get out of the war with honor.

With good will on both sides we might arrive at common efforts in view of finding a correct solution of the Vietnam problem.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 106, Country Files, Vietnam, “S” Mister, Vol. I. Top Secret; Eyes Only; Nodis. A handwritten note on the memorandum reads: “President has seen.”
  2. See footnote 4, Document 97.
  3. Nixon underlined the phrases “intensify military operations” and “the B–52 bombings.”
  4. Nixon underlined the words “They are determined to fight to the end” and “fearing the sacri-, to defend, country, rights” in this sentence.
  5. Nixon underlined this sentence with the exception of “For this”.