54. Editorial Note

South Vietnamese Vice President Nguyen Cao Ky attended the State Funeral of former President Dwight D. Eisenhower in Washington on March 30, 1969. Ky and Ambassador Bui Diem met with President Nixon, Ambassador Bunker, and Presidential Assistant Henry Kissinger from 2:05 to 2:34 p.m. on April 1. This meeting was one of many President Nixon had that day with foreign leaders attending the funeral. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Central Files, President’s Daily Diary) No other record of the discussion between Ky and Nixon has been found. Ky also met with Under Secretary of State Elliot Richardson on April 1 and Secretary of State William Rogers on April 3 at 12:30 p.m. Records of these discussions are in memoranda of conversation of those dates (Ibid., RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 7 VIET S) Ky also met with Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird on April 2 from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. (Memorandum of conversation, April 4; Washington National Records Center, OSD/ISA Files: FRC 330 72 A 6308, Vietnam #2, 1969, 000.1) Telegram 54546 to Saigon, April 9, provides an overall assessment of Ky’s trip. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 7 VIET S)

On April 4 Ky met with Kissinger at the Vietnamese Chancery in Washington at 9:40 a.m. Ky assured Kissinger that relations between the Nixon administration and the South Vietnamese Government had improved greatly. Kissinger invited Ambassador Bui Diem, who was attending the meeting, to come and see him if he was confused about [Page 187] the President’s Vietnam policy. Kissinger told Ky to disregard a public statement by Laird about a possible coalition government with the National Liberation Front and assured Ky that the President would make Vietnam policy. Asked about the war effort, Ky stated that although the North Vietnamese were getting weaker, he realized that a political statement was “the only practical solution.” Ky assured Kissinger that South Vietnam could live with a settlement as long as North Vietnamese troops withdrew from South Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. When Kissinger raised the issue of elections, Ky assured him that his government could win elections at the local level and would accept supervision. Ky reported optimistically on “Vietnamizing the conflict.” Kissinger concluded the discussion with promises of close cooperation, a special channel to Bui Diem if serious problems arose, and another assurance that only the President and the White House mattered on Vietnam policy. (Ibid.)