264. Memorandum From John D. Negroponte of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1


  • Comments by GVN Prime Minister Khiem—GVN Concern Over Negotiations

Attached at Tab A is a report of a conversation on September 15 between our Station Chief in Saigon and South Vietnam’s Prime Minister, Tran Thien Khiem. Mr. Helms has also sent you a covering memorandum which includes additional, particularly sensitive comments by the Prime Minister on the GVN’s concern over our ceasefire negotiation position, possibly resulting from your recent talks with President Thieu.2

In the basic memorandum of conversation, Khiem discussed the anticipated enemy offensive in October, ceasefire prospects and GVN’s need to be more tightly organized, and his belief that President Thieu is acting with a greater degree of urgency than he (Khiem) feels is warranted. Khiem also noted that the situation in Cambodia is going very badly and that he has lost confidence in President Lon Nol’s ability to exert the necessary leadership.

In his supplemental covering memorandum—distributed only to you—Helms reports that according to Khiem, President Thieu is very much concerned that Hanoi will make an offer which President Nixon just cannot resist. Khiem speculated that this feeling may have resulted from your recent talks with the President and noted that Thieu is accordingly stepping up his controls to be ready for any eventuality.

Helms adds that Khiem’s comments are the latest in a series of indications that something said during your recent session with the President has caused a considerable degree of nervousness at the top level of the GVN. There seems to be the feeling, he concludes, that the U.S. is committed to accept almost any form of ceasefire which involves the simultaneous release of U.S. prisoners of war by North Vietnam and the PRG.

  1. Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box CL 27, Chronological File, 20–23 September 1972. Secret; Sensitive; Outside the System. Sent for information.
  2. Attached but not printed at Tab A are the report, dated September 19, and Helms’s September 19 memorandum.