269. Message From the United States to the Democratic Republic of Vietnam 1

General Walters should hand over the draft statement of principles to the North Vietnamese.

He should then read the following oral message:

“At the September 13 meeting Minister Xuan Thuy stated that the U.S. side should review the various suggestions made by the North Vietnamese.2 The North Vietnamese side has also said that it would be forthcoming if a generous proposal is made by the U.S. side. The U.S. believes that this new proposal goes to the limits of possible generosity and fully takes into account the North Vietnamese propositions. The U.S. hopes that the North Vietnamese response will reflect the same attitude.

“Dr. Kissinger is prepared to meet on November 1, 1971 with Mr. Le Duc Tho, or some other appropriate official from Hanoi, together with Minister Xuan Thuy. He will be prepared at that meeting also to take account of other points that have been discussed in previous meetings in this channel.

“In the interim it is expected that both sides will refrain from bringing pressures through public statements which can only serve to complicate the situation.

“The U.S. side is putting forward these new proposals as one last attempt to negotiate a just settlement before the end of 1971.”

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Attachment—Draft Statement of Principles 3

The United States agrees to the total withdrawal from South Vietnam of all U.S. forces and other foreign forces allied with the government of South Vietnam. This withdrawal will be carried out in the following manner:
  • —All American and allied forces, except for a small number of personnel needed for technical advice, logistics, and observance of the ceasefire mentioned in point 6, will be withdrawn by July 1, 1972, provided that this statement of principles is signed by December 1, 1971. The terminal date for these withdrawals will in no event be later than seven months after this statement of principles is signed.
  • —The remaining personnel, in turn, will be progressively withdrawn beginning one month before the Presidential election mentioned in point 3 and simultaneously with the resignations of the incumbent President and Vice President of South Vietnam also provided for in point 3. These withdrawals will be completed by the date of the Presidential election.
The release of all military men and innocent civilians captured throughout Indochina will be carried out in parallel with the troop withdrawals mentioned in point 1. Both sides will present a complete list of military men and innocent civilians held throughout Indochina on the day this statement of principles is signed. The release will begin on the same day as the troop withdrawals and will be completed by July 1, 1972, provided this statement is signed by December 1, 1971. The completion of this release will in no event be later than seven months after this statement is signed.

The following principles will govern the political future of South Vietnam:

The political future of South Vietnam will be left for the South Vietnamese people to decide for themselves, free from outside interference.

There will be a free and democratic Presidential election in South Vietnam within six months of the signature of the final agreement based on the principles in this statement. This election will be organized and run by an independent body representing all political forces in South Vietnam which will assume its responsibilities on the date of the final agreement. This body will, among other responsibilities, determine the qualification of candidates. All political forces in South Vietnam can participate in the election and present candidates. There will be international supervision of this election.

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One month before the Presidential election takes place, the incumbent President and Vice President of South Vietnam will resign. A caretaker Administration, headed by the Chairman of the Senate, will assume administrative responsibilities except for those pertaining to the election, which will remain with the independent election body.

The United States, for its part, declares that it:

  • —will support no candidate and will remain completely neutral in the election.
  • —will abide by the outcome of this election and any other political processes shaped by the South Vietnamese people themselves.
  • —is prepared to define its military and economic assistance relationship with any government that exists in South Vietnam.

Both sides agree that:

  • —South Vietnam, together with the other countries of Indochina, should adopt a foreign policy of neutrality.
  • —Reunification of Vietnam should be decided on the basis of discussions and agreements between North and South Vietnam without constraint and annexation from either party, and without foreign interference.

Both sides will respect the 1954 Geneva Agreements on Indochina and those of 1962 on Laos. There will be no foreign intervention in the Indochinese countries and the Indochinese peoples will be left to settle by themselves their own affairs.
The problems existing among the Indochinese countries will be settled by the Indochinese parties on the basis of mutual respect for independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and non-interference in each other’s affairs. Among the problems that will be settled is the implementation of the principle that all armed forces of the countries of Indochina must remain within their national frontiers.
There will be a general ceasefire throughout Indochina, to begin when the final agreement is signed. As part of the ceasefire, there will be no further infiltration of outside forces into any of the countries of Indochina.
There will be international supervision of the military aspects of this agreement including the ceasefire and its provisions, the release of prisoners of war and innocent civilians, and the withdrawal of outside forces from Indochina.
There will be an international guarantee for the fundamental national rights of the Indochinese peoples, the neutrality of all the countries in Indochina, and lasting peace in this region.

Both sides express their willingness to participate in an international conference for this and other appropriate purposes.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 1039, Files for the President, Vietnam Negotiations, HAK II 1971. Top Secret; Sensitive; Exclusively Eyes Only. Handwritten at top of the page is, “For the October 4 Meeting, 10/11/71,” but Xuan Thuy was unavailable so Walters delivered it and the attached statement of principles to Vo Van Sung on October 11. Kissinger included the text of the eight-point proposal in White House Years, pp. 1489–1490. For an account of the North Vietnamese view of the proposal, see Luu and Nguyen, Le Duc ThoKissinger Negotiations in Paris, pp. 210–211.
  2. See Document 254.
  3. No classification marking.