150. Notes of Telephone Conversation Between President Nixon and his Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1

[Omitted here is discussion of the elimination of chemical warfare.] K mentioned that Xuan Thuy made another statement today saying that private talks were essential.2 Whatever his reasons were…. We have no problem with that. The President said they are at least talking about talking which they haven’t before. He suggested that maybe K move up his channel—strike before Lodge screws it up. K mentioned that Lodge will be out on Dec. 6 and Habib will be here Monday.3 K indicated that he wanted to talk to Thompson and then he could get in touch with Walters. Walters could say we want appointment after [Page 491] the weekend of Dec. 13. K said he would warn them against an offensive and add that a lot of things are possible if we set necessary deadlines for working it out. The President said it just could be that they are hurting. K indicated that on several occasions they were beginning to blink. One of the things that is happening in State is that they are going on big operation on ceasefire. The President asked, why, they have already turned it down. K thought it would be taken as a sign of weakness. We should have a low-key Christmas ceasefire. We won’t get any points for making it four days rather than 2. We can say we are willing to negotiate generally whenever they are ready. The President said, let us use this period for a general ceasefire. K thought and suggested that we should announce soon that we are ready for Christmas for two days and in that announcement say we are always ready to negotiate general ceasefire. The President told K to try to get State around to this. K said that was a biggest obstacle, to keep them from getting away with more than the Japanese have already conceded (K switched the conversation to mention point about getting State to go along). K mentioned that he let Johnson see the memcon.4 K said what is more important is that Sato made personal commitment to the President. The President said Sato was pleased—they expected worse treatment and we gave them a good deal. Back to the ceasefire—K said we should play ceasefire low key. We have them going without offering a lot. If they said they would settle in three months, that’s when we should make our offer. The President said, at the present time on the other ceasefire thing, the main thing now is to get us some time. He didn’t even want to consider this until after troop thing and we don’t expect that until Dec. 20. K said he would recommend that the President announce a Christmas ceasefire within the next two weeks so he can get ahead of the others. Then the President is not following their lead. The President said what difference does it make on 2 or 3 days. Lets make it 2 days then.

[Omitted here is additional discussion on chemical warfare.]

  1. Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Telephone Conversations, Chronological File. No classification marking.
  2. On November 24 in an interview with the New York Times, Xuan Thuy charged that the United States was unwilling to discuss any questions but troop withdrawals in private sessions. On November 25 Xuan Thuy reiterated his call for resumption of private talks. (Stanley Millet, ed., South Vietnam: U.S.-Communist Confrontation in Southeast Asia, Vol. 4, 1969, pp. 146–148)
  3. December 1.
  4. A memorandum of conversation between Nixon and Prime Minister Sato of Japan during Sato’s visit to Washington, November 19–21, is in Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XIX, Japan and Korea, 1969–1972.