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320. Memorandum From Richard Smyser of the Operations Staff of the National Security Council to the President's Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1

SUBJECT

  • Message from General Walters regarding Meeting with Le Duc Tho

Hanoi has turned down our suggestion for another meeting with Le Duc Tho with language which clearly indicates that it wants to keep the channel open. Hanoi's reply was noteworthy for the following:

  • —It stated that there had to be a “temporary suspension” of the meetings (allowing for later resumption).
  • —After repeating the charge that we had caused the Cambodian coup, it blamed the suspension of the meetings on that rather than on any substantive breakdown. In fact, it stated that substantive discussions had “barely” started.
  • —Nor did it link our air attacks to the suspension of the meetings, though it did cite them as evidence of our desire for “military victory.”
  • —It added further that the meetings would produce nothing useful “at this juncture” (again keeping the door open).
  • —The preconditions to another meeting are very vague and can be interpreted as forbidding or as virtually perfunctory. We can try to claim that we have met them after the Cambodian operations are finished, in order to test Hanoi's intent.
  • —As for settlement conditions, this message failed to mention the NLF “ten points” or the usual Communist demands for U.S. withdrawal and for a “provisional coalition government.”

This statement represents the minimum that Hanoi could say under the present circumstances, particularly because Hanoi may well believe that we did cause the Cambodian coup and that, in any event, there can be no serious negotiations until the Cambodian outcome is a little clearer.

At the same time, Hanoi obviously wants to keep the door open. This may reflect its desire to negotiate seriously or its estimate that our continued contacts reduce the likelihood of further American escalation. In either case, it is an indication that North Vietnam's situation at this point is not free of pressure either.

Attachment

Memorandum From the Senior Defense Attaché in Paris (Walters) to the President's Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)

Herewith text received evening five June from Tran Viet Dung. Titles omitted in text. “Recently Xuan Thuy and Le Duc Tho had meetings with Kissinger. In course of the meetings from side of DRVN we have always shown goodwill and a serious attitude in order to achieve peaceful and just solution for Vietnamese problem. Barely had these meetings started to discuss substantial questions when the United States fomented a coup d'état in Cambodia for purpose of preparing extension of the war to the whole of Indochina and to exercise pressure on negotiations. This led the meetings to a negative result and a temporary suspension. In fact the United States and the Saigon administration at their orders subsequently launched tens of thousands of their troops into an aggression against Cambodia. At the same time United States Air Force carried out several attacks against territory of DRVN thus infringing its sovereignty and security. All of these facts are sufficient to show clearly that the United States are still seeking a [Page 1042]military victory. This prolongs and spreads the war and shows that they are not animated by a sincere desire to solve peacefully the Vietnamese problem. The words of peace and goodwill uttered by the United States are more empty words without meaning. That is why at this juncture a meeting between Xuan Thuy and Le Duc Tho on one hand and Kissinger on the other as proposed by American Government at the beginning of month of May will bring nothing useful. However, as soon as United States have renounced the use of military pressure and show goodwill and a serious attitude for the purpose of seeking a peaceful and just solution to Vietnamese problems, Xuan Thuy and Le Duc Tho will be ready to meet again with Kissinger. But if the United States continues to prolong and extend their war of aggression, the Vietnamese people are determined to fight to recover at any cost their independence and freedom. The negotiations in Paris are presently at an impasse for which the United States must assume the entire responsibility.”

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 853, For the President's File—Vietnam Negotiations, Sensitive, Camp David, Vol. V. Top Secret; Sensitive; Eyes Only.