209. Backchannel Message From the Ambassador to South Vietnam (Bunker) to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1

114. Ref: WHS 2087.2

I gave Thieu summary of your July 19 meeting contained reftel and informed him that I would be in touch with him when I received a fuller report. He expressed appreciation for information and said that it was about what he had expected from the other side.
He went on to speculate that in view of the changed situation which Hanoi now faced, it is being forced to develop a new policy for the future, is in the process of doing so, but has not yet reached a conclusion as to what it should be. They have been disappointed and embarrassed by the fact that the military situation on the ground has not worked out as they had expected. They do not want to call off the talks, yet know that their Seven Points are no longer an acceptable solution. Thus the Politburo is in the process of considering what course to follow and debating the problem among themselves. In Thieu’s view, this is confirmed by the fact that captured documents and prisoner interrogations reflect the fact that lower echelon cadres are not receiving consistent instructions, e.g., the three points which include destruction of ARVN, imposition of a coalition government, and continuation of the war until after our elections on the one hand; on the [Page 750] other, instructions for preparation for a cease-fire; while other documents do not insist on Thieu’s withdrawal.
In Thieu’s view, the Seven Points were a carefully formulated proposal agreed to unanimously by the Politburo. Now they are faced with a new situation and have not yet reached conclusions on how to deal with it. In the meantime, he believes they will adopt a waiting posture. They will want to see what success they may have in a new offensive, which he thinks the enemy may initiate about mid-August and are in the process of moving troops to prepare for it. They also want to appraise the probable outcome of our elections. In other words, he thinks it will be another one or two months before we can expect them to come up with concrete proposals.
Warm regards.
  1. Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box TS 44, Geopolitical File, Cables, Vietnam, 24 June–29 August 1972. Top Secret; Sensitive; Immediate.
  2. Kissinger’s backchannel message to Bunker, July 20, summarized the July 19 meeting with Le Duc Tho and directed the Ambassador to convey the summary to Thieu. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 869, For the President’s Files (Winston Lord)—China Trip/Vietnam, Camp David Cables, January 1–July 31, 1972)