226. Memorandum from W. Richard Smyser of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1
- Mme. Binh’s “Seven Points”
Mme. Binh’s latest “Seven Points”2 are obviously intended largely for public impact in this country and in South Vietnam. This is particularly evident in the pledge to release POW’s3 and also in the very soft formulations of such touchy issues as reparations and a new government in Saigon. It moves some way toward our position on several issues, and can thus be considered positive, but its publication at this time is obviously not intended to make life easier. It is also specifically [Page 775] geared to have an impact in South Vietnam, perhaps to help Minh.4
It drops some of the issues presented in the “nine points,” most specifically the provision for international supervision and the material related to Indochina.5 It is less strongly worded than the “nine points” with regard to reparations. It also has material on reunification which had not been in the “nine points.”
Going down the material point by point I have the following comments:
Point 1. Here, in contrast to the nine points, they have again introduced the full panoply of demands which include such items as the withdrawal of all equipment, dismantling of all bases, etc.
In addition, and most important from the public point of view, they have pledged to release our POW’s at the same time as we withdraw our forces. They presumably also want their men released, since they speak of the release of “military men of all parties.” It is difficult to understand precisely what they mean when they say that “the parties will . . . agree on the modalities” of release at the same time as we set a withdrawal date in 1971, but this is not what will hit the public eye.
They repeat the usual material about arranging for our safety and they say that a ceasefire between us and them would be reached on the same day as we give a deadline. As you know, this is essentially designed to stop our interdiction.
Point 2. This point, which deals with “the question of power in South Vietnam,” is much more softly worded than previous statements on this issue, and is intended perhaps at least in part to meet some of our concerns. It does not speak of “coalition” but of a “three-segment government of national concord.” It does not say what the elements in this government should be, nor how it should be formed; on the latter point they say that “the political, social and religious forces in South Vietnam aspiring to peace and national concord will use varous means . . .”6[Page 776]
Troublesome in its implication for our continued aid is the demand that we must “put an end to [our] interference in the internal affairs of South Vietnam, cease backing the bellicose group headed by Nguyen Van Thieu . . . and stop all maneuvers, including tricks on elections, aimed at maintaining the puppet Nguyen Van Thieu.” The emphasis on the elections is interesting in that it again reveals their concern about the outcome of the current political process.
They repeat that there will be a ceasefire among the Vietnamese as soon as a government of “national concord” is formed.
There is also some generally standard material about guarantees of freedom, against reprisal, etc., and something about improving the standard of living of the people.
As for the formation of the final government, they again speak of “holding of genuinely free, democratic, and fair general elections in South Vietnam.”
- Point 3. This point, which deals with the “question of Vietnamese armed forces in South Vietnam,” is generally like their earlier statement on this subject, but spelled out in more positive detail and obviously intended to appeal to the Vietnamese with its expression of desire “to make lighter the people’s contributions.”
Point 4. The usual language about reunification “step by step”, by an agreement between the two zones.
There is also the usual material regarding the need for South and North Vietnam to comply with the provisions of the Geneva Accords.
- Point 5. This is a demand that the new South Vietnamese Government follow a policy of neutrality, written in standard language. It is accompanied by the statement that South Vietnam and the U.S. will “after the end of the war” establish relations on this basis “in the political, economic, and cultural fields” (not military).
Point 6. This is the reparations clause, but worded very carefully to read: “Regarding the damages caused by the U.S. to the Vietnamese people in the two zones. The U.S. Government must bear full responsibility for the loss and the destruction it has caused to the Vietnamese people in the two zones.”
As you can see, the demand remains what it was in the ten points and the nine points, but it is put much more carefully.
- Point 7. This point deals very vaguely with the question of international guarantees, merely stating that “the parties will find agreement on the forms of respect and international guarantee of the accords that will be concluded.”
There is no general provision, as in the nine points or the five points, to the effect that all these points form a whole.7
- Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 853, For the President’s Files, Winston Lord China Trip, Vietnam, Vol. IX. Top Secret; Sensitive; Exclusively Eyes Only. Sent for information. A handwritten note at the top indicates that Haig passed the memorandum to Kissinger, who initialed it. All brackets are in the original.↩
- Madame Binh introduced the Seven Point peace proposal, July 1, at the 119th plenary session of the Paris Peace Talks. The text was published in The New York Times, July 2, 1971, p. 2.↩
- Laird cautioned against the United States allowing the issue of American prisoners’ release and return to be used as a principal bargaining element, particularly because Hanoi was diplomatically vulnerable on the issue and their vulnerability could be used to the United States’ advantage. Murphy forwarded Laird’s warning in a July 12 memorandum to Kissinger. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 190, Paris Talks/Meetings, Paris Talks, 7 Jan 71–1 Jul 71)↩
- In telegram 11529 from Paris, the Delegation concurred that the Seven Point peace proposal’s purpose was to force the administration to set an unconditional withdrawal date in 1971 and thereby drive a wedge between the United States and South Vietnam, elevate the PRG to the level of an equal negotiating partner, and aid Thieu’s political rivals. (Ibid.)↩
- See Document 223.↩
- Attached but not printed is Intelligence Information Cable TDCS–314/07197–71. According to the cable, Binh claimed that the use of the term “concord” was pure semantics. She said that once a “peace cabinet” was formed in Saigon, it could negotiate with the PRG to form a “provisional coalition government” that could include some members of the Thieu administration and the PRG, as well as people who had not been linked to either group.↩
- Nixon, Kissinger, and Haig briefly discussed the administration’s response to Binh’s proposal during a July 1 meeting on Kissinger’s upcoming secret trip to China. According to a memorandum for the President’s file, the three men agreed that while the administration should not get into a detailed exposition of the proposal’s pros and cons, it should not reject it publicly at this time. Instead, it should emphasize that additional discussions should be held within established forums. (Memorandum for the President’s Files, July 1; Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Geopolitical Files—China, China Trips, July 1971 Briefing Notebook)↩