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

SUBJECT

  • Conversation with South Vietnamese Ambassador Bui Diem, January 24, 1969

I saw the Vietnamese Ambassador for a few minutes this evening and made the following points to him:

  • —The Nixon Administration believes it essential that the Government of South Vietnam (GVN) and the U.S. Government work closely together in the months to come.
  • —We have the impression that some of the difficulty between us over the past few months resulted from unnecessary arguments over language.
  • —We intend to be tough with the North Vietnamese on the issues, but will try to get maneuvering room by using soft language.
  • —South Vietnamese attitudes over recent months, we believe, were partly a result of distrust of the U.S. Perhaps the GVN was reluctant [Page 23]to concede anything because of uncertainties over what we might next ask.
  • —This Administration will deal honestly and frankly with the GVN. We will listen carefully and sympathetically to the GVN, although we may not always be able to do what is asked of us.

Bui Diem admitted that relations had deteriorated over the past months, and said that he personally believed unnecessary things had been said by both sides.

I told the Ambassador that he should feel free to call on me any time he wished. I emphasized that I would like him to tell me what the real Vietnamese concerns were, rather than to go over arguments largely put out for public consumption.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 136, Vietnam Country Files, Vietnam, Vol. I, Through 3/19/69. Secret. Nixon wrote “Excellent” on the memorandum. Kissinger sent an identical memorandum to Rogers dated January 28. (Ibid., RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 1 US–VIET S)