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309. Memorandum From the President's Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon 1

SUBJECT

  • Conversation with President Thieu

Attached is a report from General Haig of his conversation with President Thieu on May 26.2 In the course of the conversation, President Thieu:

  • —outlined his plans for future operations in Cambodia, which appear to be consistent with US guidelines;
  • —discussed his broad strategy for the war after June 30, which is also entirely consistent with your desires. His plan includes maximum effort on pacification and concentration on destruction of enemy forces remaining in South Vietnam, new emphasis on control of the borders, and maximum effort against enemy infiltration of men and supplies;
  • —stated that the most important benefit of the Cambodian operation has been the fact that the enemy is now deprived of the security and freedom of movement he previously enjoyed in Cambodia;
  • —expressed complete understanding of Cambodian sensitivities and stated that he had already issued instructions to impose stronger control of GVN forces in Cambodia;
  • —suggested that we urgently consider improving Cambodian communications so that they can better control their forces and be aware of the battlefield situation;
  • —emphasized that a senior US military adviser is badly needed in Phnom Penh;
  • —said that he agrees with the assessment that Hanoi is hoping to topple Lon Nol quickly and cheaply, and that the answer rests with the will of the Cambodian people to resist until their forces can be rebuilt on a sounder footing.

In commenting on this meeting, Haig noted that:

  • —the issue of gravest consequence which should be receiving primary attention is what the GVN and US should do in the event NVA/VC forces make an all-out attack on Phnom Penh and the Cambodians urgently request help;
  • —it is essential that US spokesmen take an ambiguous and somewhat threatening position concerning future operations of the GVN.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 509, Country Files, Far East, Cambodia, Vol. VI, 23 May 1970–4 June 1970. Top Secret; Sensitive; Eyes Only. A stamped notation on the memorandum reads: “The President has seen.”
  2. Attached was an account of the conversation between Haig and Thieu and Bunker in the President's Palace in Saigon on May 26.