14. Memorandum From the President's Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to Secretary of State Rogers 1
- Communication with Hanoi Prior to January 20
Prior to the inauguration, President Nixon was in communication with the North Vietnamese through a contact who is personally known to the top leaders in Hanoi.2 The messages were sent by me to the contact who delivered them to Mai Van Bo (DRV representative to the Government of France) and vice versa.
The President initiated the exchange with his message of December 20 (Tab A), which told the North Vietnamese that his Administration was prepared to undertake serious talks. On December 31, Hanoi sent its reply (Tab B), which emphasizes that its point of primary concern is U.S. willingness to withdraw troops. The ball was kept in play by the President's response of January 2 (Tab C), which states inter alia that his Administration is ready to withdraw U.S. forces from South Vietnam as part of an honorable settlement which includes mutual troop withdrawal. The North Vietnamese replied on January 13 to the President's message (Tab D). The President has not replied to this latest message.
The President has asked that this be very closely held.[Page 51]
- Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 861, For the President's File, Vietnam Negotiations, Camp David Memoranda, 1969–1970. Secret; Nodis; Eyes Only. The memorandum is an uninitialed copy.↩
- Frenchman Jean Sainteny, former French Government official with extensive official experience in Indochina. Nixon describes and quotes from these messages in RN: The Memoirs of Richard Nixon , pp. 349–350.↩
- Secret; Nodis.↩
- Secret; Nodis. The text indicates it is an unofficial translation. On January 2 Kissinger sent the President-elect a memorandum suggesting that “the tone of the message [of December 31] is more conciliatory by far than is customary; there is the usual effort to drive a wedge between Saigon and Washington; [and] Hanoi, which always drafts very carefully, emphasizes that its point of primary concern is US willingness to withdraw troops (no reference to a ceasefire, de-escalation, etc.).” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 2, HAK Administrative and Staff Files, Memoranda to the President-Elect)↩
- Secret; Nodis.↩
- No classification marking. The message is a: “Rough/Unofficial translation.”↩