201. Backchannel Message From the President’s Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs (Haig) to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1

108. Ambassador Bunker and I spent two hours with President Thieu this evening and I am providing this abbreviated report of the discussion which was far ranging and satisfactory in every respect. Because of its complexity and my very tight time schedule I will reserve comment on details which can only be adequately covered in a lengthy report which I will provide to you personally upon arrival in San Clemente.2

Thieu had obviously been thinking long and hard about negotiations and with minimum prodding launched a lengthy and at times rambling assessment of where we are headed.

He estimated that he can by the end of July clear the enemy from the higher profiled holdings in Binh Long, Binh Dinh and Quang Tri. He states that he will need until September or October to drive the enemy completely from the areas it has seized since March 30. Finally, he believes that he will have all of the population reinstated and the damage repaired by December.

He does not believe that the enemy will discuss possible settlements until August. Beyond that he does not anticipate any acceptable offers from the enemy until after our elections.

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He accompanied this assessment with a lengthy and complex rationale which reflects a new sense of confidence on his part. Both Bunker and I believe that this new assuredness will not tend to make him as flexible as he has been during less favorable periods in the past. He would not offer any problems on the two months provisions but he does not consider that negotiations will evolve in this manner.

His major concern and obvious hang-up is with any form of coalition including one in which he was in the driver’s seat. In the short term he expects the enemy to offer a modified version of the May 8 proposal which would limit the proposition to POW’s in return for termination of mining and bombing. To avoid hardening of his attitudes on any possibilities I did not push on any option. The exchange was open and easy throughout.

I had a similarly constructive meeting with Lon Nol this AM which lasted 90 minutes. I will withhold my report on this due to the tight schedule.3 Warm regards.

  1. Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box TS 44, Geopolitical File, Vietnam, Cables, 24 June–29 August 1972. Top Secret; Sensitive; Immediate.
  2. An account of the meeting, which took place at the Presidential Palace and began at 5 p.m. local time, is in a memorandum of conversation, July 3. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 1016, Alexander M. Haig Special File, Haig Trip to Vietnam, June 29–July 4, 1972)
  3. A detailed account of Haig’s meeting with Lon Nol on July 3 is in telegram 4219 from Phnom Penh, July 3. (Ibid., Box 513, Country Files, Far East, Cambodia, Vol. 15)