41. Editorial Note

On September 17, 1970, at a plenary meeting of the Paris Peace Talks on Vietnam, the Provisional Revolutionary Government’s (PRG) representative to the talks, Madame Nguyen Thi Binh, presented an “Eight-Point Clarification of the Ten-Point Overall Solution” to the war in Vietnam. The text is printed in Council on Foreign Relations, Stebbins and Adam (eds.), Documents on American Foreign Relations, 1970, pages 192–196. Henry Kissinger, the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs, called President Richard Nixon at 9:45 a.m. on September 17 with an initial analysis of the proposal and related issues. The two also briefly discussed the administration’s effort to dissuade Major General Nguyen Cao Ky, Vice President of the Republic of Vietnam, from making his planned trip to the United States in October:

“K: Okay. About Vietnam, the Viet Cong have made some proposals today that are still not in acceptable form to us but do conform to what they said to me. If we were to promise withdrawal by June 30, they say they would stop military action against them. It’s a sort of half-baked cease-fire proposal; it means they would give up their 6-month deadline. Also they are not saying they will deal with any Saigon [Page 111] government that doesn’t include Thieu, Ky and Khiem. We still have the problem that you identified but before they said they wouldn’t negotiate with anybody. They just may not be able to make a proposal we can accept.

“P: And they may be waiting for their meeting with you.

“K: That’s right. But they are confirming publicly what they told me privately—so they weren’t just stringing me along.

“P: Let’s keep waiting a little while.

“K: Yes, the 7th of October is still three weeks from now, and the Middle East will blunt the headlines on this.

“P: That’s right.

“K: Finally, Bunker talked with Ky, offering him a dinner, and said he thinks Ky will finally agree not to come.

“P: That just postpones it.” (Transcript of Telephone Conversation; National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, Kissinger Telephone Conversations, Box 6, Chronological File)

In a follow-up conversation at 9:30 p.m., September 17, Kissinger and the President briefly discussed the former’s upcoming trip to Paris to meet with Ambassador David Bruce, United States Representative to the Paris Peace Talks:

“P: What about what the Viet Cong said in Paris? Do you think there is a change?

“K: It is small sign. They have extended the period of withdrawal that they said to meet. Might want to only talk about withdrawal to us and military [withdrawal] to Saigon. That is what we want. That is what I have to clarify on the 27th. The fact that they presented a proposal is good. I got a letter from Bruce. Very intellectual letter in reply to my minutes of the meeting which I sent to him.

“P: Understood it, did he?

“K: Yes. He is willing to bore others as they are boring him. He is a fine fellow. Very good.

“P: He is the best man we have had over there so far.” (Ibid.)