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


  • State Department Memorandum on Vietnam

The Department of State believes that Hanoi has adopted a more moderate tone in the recent plenary sessions in Paris. Following are some of the shifts which State detects:

The DRV spokesmen are dealing more readily with the actual issues raised by the U.S. and GVN.
The DRV has had less to say about the necessity of a “peace cabinet” in South Vietnam in recent sessions. State concludes that they are beginning to recognize that they may eventually have to deal with the GVN in private negotiations.
In recent sessions, the DRV has focused on its four point position,2 dwelling particularly on point three which asserts that the internal affairs in SVN must be settled in accordance with the NLF program. By elaborating on this point, State believes the DRV has been attempting to project a tone of moderation since it has been stressing the allegedly democratic, neutral, and peaceful nature of its proposition.

State concludes that the display of moderation has at least three purposes:

To make a favorable impression on U.S. public and political opinion.
To influence the South Vietnamese body politic, making sure that Thieu's recent statements do not go unchallenged.
To attempt to encourage U.S. political concessions during the current military “lull” in South Vietnam.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 182, Paris Talks/Meetings, Paris Talks, Memos and Miscellaneous/Memcons, Vol. III, 4/5–69. Secret. Sent for information. A stamped note on the memorandum indicates the President saw it. Attached but not printed was a retyped and undated INR Intelligence Note entitled, “Hanoi Adopts Moderate Tone in Paris.” In an April 30 memorandum to Kissinger, Sneider informed him that Lodge wished to make a proposal using the DRV's Four Points of April 8, 1965, at the next private session in Paris as a means of getting a dialogue going. (Ibid., Box 181, Paris Talks/Meetings, Private Meetings, March–December 1969) In a second memorandum of the same date Kissinger informed the President that at the Paris Plenary session of April 30, despite a “comprehensive attack on U.S. policy in Vietnam,” the DRV clearly wanted the United States to explore the NLF 's offer made on March 20 to talk with “other parties,” to address the DRV's Four Points, and hinted that they might be willing to work within the GVN's constitution if it was revised. Nixon saw this memorandum. (Ibid., Box 182, Paris Talks/Meetings, Paris Talks, Memos and Miscellaneous/Memcons, Vol. III, 4/5–69)
  2. For text of the DRV's Four Points, outlined by DRV Premier Pham Van Dong on April 8, 1965, see American Foreign Policy: Current Documents, 1965, pp. 852–853.