2. Memorandum for the President’s File by the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1


  • Breakfast Meeting with Ambassadors Bruce and Bunker and Dr. Kissinger (6:32–9:45 a.m.)

The President met with Ambassadors Bruce and Bunker for breakfast in the first floor family dining room prior to their departure from Washington. They had both attended the NSC meeting on the previous day2 and Ambassador Bruce was leaving for Paris via Saigon to assume the position of Head of the US delegation to the Paris Talks. The purpose of this private meeting was to reiterate the President’s personal views and to help insure that both Ambassadors would remain responsive to the President’s direction and control during the upcoming Southeast Asian negotiations and the subsequent peace initiative. Prior to the beginning of substantive discussions Ollie Atkins took photographs of the group.

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With respect to the handling of the peace initiative the President indicated that he wanted Ambassador Bruce to use the month of August to assess the other side’s attitude and cautioned him to avoid any indication of over eagerness or vacillation on our part. The President emphasized the importance of maintaining secrecy and reminded Ambassador Bruce that he should maintain a low profile with the press until the initiative was launched. He also cautioned Ambassador Bruce to avoid contacts with Soviet representatives in Paris and to insure that his delegation abided by those guidelines.

The President also stressed the need for methodical preparation and careful review of the NSC ceasefire paper.3 In addition, the President told the Ambassadors that he considered them to be his personal representatives and that they should feel free to comment on problems directly to the President through Mr. Kissinger when necessary.

In commenting on US posture during this period the President reiterated to both Ambassadors that he intended to pursue a confident and firm posture with the other side and that strong retaliatory action would be taken against North Vietnam if the enemy undertook a significant provocation.

The President concluded the breakfast on a personal note by thanking the Ambassadors for their continuing contributions and by indicating his recognition that this was done at the greatest personal sacrifice. He commented on the key roles the Ambassadors were playing in the ultimate solution of the most vexing and grave problem facing this nation.4

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 189, Paris Talks/Meetings, Paris Talks, July 1, 1970–September 1970. Top Secret; Sensitive. Holdridge, Haig, and Kissinger drafted the memorandum on August 19. Kissinger did not initial the memorandum and there is no indication that Nixon saw it. A typed note at the end of the memorandum reads, “This account was derived primarily from the talking paper prepared for the breakfast and is not a verbatim account of the actual discussion.” An undated memorandum from Kissinger to the President, briefing him for the meeting, is ibid., White House Special Files, President’s Office Files, Box 81, Memoranda for the President, Beginning July 19, 1970.
  2. See Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume VI, Vietnam, January 1969–July 1970, Document 348.
  3. See ibid., Document 345.
  4. In a letter to Kissinger, July 29, following his visit to South Vietnam July 25–27, Bruce wrote, “If the South Vietnamese can preserve and increase their present measure of governmental stability, their military competence, if correctly appraised by our own military (this is a large and vital if), should enable us to leave that country in a state of security possibly sooner than we have, up to the present, anticipated.” He also warned, “Something needs doing in the economic sphere,” recommending “drastic changes in their foreign exchange procedures.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 189, Paris Talks/Meetings, Paris Talks, July 1, 1970–September 1970)