237. Memorandum From the President’s Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs (Haig) to President Nixon 1
- Today’s Paris Meeting
Dr. Kissinger has reported the following results from today’s Paris meeting:2
- —The meeting lasted 7½ hours and was essentially a holding action until our side tables a U.S. political proposal. Kissinger tabled and explained the U.S. view on general principles and on all substantive points except the political issue.3 (These were essentially a repackaging of the other side’s proposal and the U.S. proposal of August 1).4
- —Kissinger informed the other side that he was proceeding to Saigon to discuss the negotiations. Le Duc Tho, in turn, told Dr. Kissinger that he was returning to Hanoi in a few days to review the North Vietnamese position and it was then clear that he was not about to give anything away prior to that review. Kissinger emphasizes that the PR effect of the nearly simultaneous visit of Kissinger to Saigon and Le Duc Tho to Hanoi should be significant. Kissinger emphasized that the fact of Tho’s trip must be held most closely until it surfaces through North Vietnamese sources.
- —During the discussions, Le Duc Tho was somewhat negative but when Kissinger noted that his attitude could not but influence his mood for the Saigon negotiations, Tho immediately became more conciliatory and emphasized that all other issues could be immediately settled if we could solve the political situation.5
- —Tho again attacked the U.S. for stirring up speculation on private talks and dragging out negotiations for domestic reasons.6 Kissinger retorted sharply pointing out that they could not play the game of public stalemate and private progress.
- —The North Vietnamese acquiesced reluctantly in a simple confirmation of the fact of Kissinger’s meeting providing that there be absolutely no elaborations of any kind (Ziegler followed this strategy precisely in making his announcement this morning).
- —The next meeting was set for September 15 since Le Duc Tho will not be back until September 10.
- —In sum, the meeting was a holding action pending review in the capitals by both sides, especially on the political issue. We did accomplish the tabling of forthing [forthcoming?] documents on all other points and elicited some unreasonable responses from them on the political issues which could be used for the record subsequently if necessary.7
- Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Henry A. Kissinger Office Files, Box 22, HAK Trip Files. Top Secret; Sensitive; Exclusively Eyes Only. A stamped notation on the memorandum indicates the President saw it.↩
- Message Hakto 3 from Paris, August 14; ibid., Box 869, For the President’s Files (Winston Lord)—China Trip/Vietnam, Camp David Cables, August–September 1972. The 7½-hour meeting between Kissinger and Le Duc Tho and Xuan Thuy generated a 65-page memorandum of conversation, which is ibid., Box 864, For the President’s Files (Winston Lord)—China Trip/Vietnam, Sensitive Camp David Memcons, May–October 1972 [4 of 5]. See also Document 246.↩
- See Documents 238 and 239.↩
- See Document 225.↩
- The President highlighted this sentence, circled the word “political,” and wrote the following comment to Haig in the margin: “Al—which means we have no progress in 15 meetings!”↩
- The President highlighted this sentence and wrote the following comment in the margin: “They just use this as a pretext.”↩
The President wrote the following comments to Haig on the last page:
“I. Al—It is obvious that no progress was made & that none can be expected—Henry must be discouraged—as I have always been on this front until after the election.
“We have reached the stage where the mere fact of private talks helps us very little—if at all. We can soon expect the opposition to begin to make that point.
“II. Disillusionment about K’s talks could be harmful psychologically—particularly in view of the fact that the Saigon trip, regardless of how we downplay it—may raise expectations.
“What we need most now is a P.R. game plan to either stop talks or if we continue them to give some hope of progress.”↩