159. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon 1
Washington, December 13, 1969.
- North Vietnam’s Reply to Our Overture for Private Meeting
Attached is the full text of the exchange General Walters had with My Van Bo in Paris Friday morning.
Upon reading the actual text of the exchange, it is apparent that the North Vietnamese reply had some interesting features:
- —The tone, while tough, is much milder than anything we have heard since spring.
- —Their suggestion that we should have something new to say is really equivalent to our request for something new from them. Thus, it could be considered in the context of face.
- —The proposal they make mentions only withdrawal and does not link, as they have in the past, withdrawal with a coalition or a provisional government. For example, in the plenary session a week ago, they stated peace depends on dropping the Thieu-Ky regime and U.S. withdrawal. This may constitute a willingness to concentrate only on troop withdrawals in a “two-track approach” in which the South Vietnamese settle political issues among themselves. While the omission of the political track may be a come-on, this too is not without significance.
- —The two concluding paragraphs (6 and 7) are especially conciliatory.
In view of the foregoing, I recommend:
- We wait until after the next move in the Chicom Plan and until after we have talked to the Romanian emissary although his visit may not be linked specifically to the Vietnam problem.
- In about two weeks, that we then send General Walters back to the North Vietnamese in Paris with the message that we consider a meeting would be useful under the assumption that both sides have [Page 517] something new to say, and that under this assumption, we propose a meeting for a specific date in early January.
- Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box TS 46, Geopolitical File, Vietnam, Vietnam Peace Talks, 28 July 1969–27 February 1970. Top Secret; Sensitive; Eyes Only. Sent for action.↩
- Nixon initialed the approve option.↩
- Secret; Personally Eyes Only for General Haig. The copy printed here was retyped for the President.↩
- Mai Van Bo.↩
- Nixon underlined the phrase “recently in his replies to the press” and wrote the following comments on the left margin: “K—This may mean his press statement was directed to you.”↩
- Nixon’s comments at his December 8 news conference are in Public Papers: Nixon, 1969, pp. 1003–1013. The reference to Rogers’ comments are apparently to remarks made during an interview by National Educational Television for broadcast on November 26. (Department of State Bulletin, December 22, 1969, pp. 577–583) Laird’s remarks have not been identified.↩
- Nixon underlined “warlike speech” and put an exclamation point in the margin; see Document 144.↩
- Nixon underlined the phrase “demanded a reward” and put a question mark in the margin.↩
- Nixon wrote the following note at the bottom of the page: “shows they watch every statement we make—carefully” and drew an arrow to the phrase “from South Vietnam.”↩
- At the bottom of this page, Nixon wrote the comments: “K—It still seems to me he expects us to offer something new & does not expect to offer anything on his part.”↩