8. Joint United States and Republic of Vietnam Proposal1

Republic of Vietnam and United States Proposal for a Negotiated Settlement of the Indochina Conflict

There will be a total withdrawal from South Vietnam of all U.S. forces and other foreign forces allied with the Government of South Vietnam within six months of an agreement.
The release of all military men and innocent civilians captured throughout Indochina will be carried out in parallel with the troop withdrawals mentioned in point 1. Both sides will present a complete list of military men and innocent civilians held throughout Indochina on the day the agreement is signed. The release will begin on the same day as the troop withdrawals and will be completed when they are completed.

The following principles will govern the political future of South Vietnam.

The political future of South Vietnam will be left for the South Vietnamese people to decide for themselves, free from outside interference.

There will be a free and democratic Presidential election in South Vietnam within six months of an agreement. This election will be [Page 34] organized and run by an independent body representing all political forces in South Vietnam which will assume its responsibilities on the date of the agreement. This body will, among other responsibilities, determine the qualification of candidates. All political forces in South Vietnam can participate in the election and present candidates. There will be international supervision of this election.

One month before the Presidential election takes place, the incumbent President and Vice President of South Vietnam will resign. The Chairman of the Senate, as caretaker head of the government, will assume administrative responsibilities except for those pertaining to the election, which will remain with the independent election body.

The United States, for its part, declares that it:

  • —will support no candidate and will remain completely neutral in the election.
  • —will abide by the outcome of this election and any other political processes shaped by the South Vietnamese people themselves.
  • —is prepared to define its military and economic assistance relationship with any government that exists in South Vietnam.

Both sides agree that:

  • —South Vietnam, together with the other countries of Indochina, should adopt a foreign policy consistent with the military provisions of the 1954 Geneva Accords.
  • —Reunification of Vietnam should be decided on the basis of discussions and agreements between North and South Vietnam without constraint and annexation from either party, and without foreign interference.

Both sides will respect the 1954 Geneva Agreements on Indochina and those of 1962 on Laos.2 There will be no foreign intervention in the Indochinese countries and the Indochinese peoples will be left to settle their own affairs by themselves.
The problems existing among the Indochinese countries will be settled by the Indochinese parties on the basis of mutual respect for independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and non-interference in each other’s affairs. Among the problems that will be settled is the implementation of the principle that all armed forces of the countries of Indochina must remain within their national frontiers.
There will be a general ceasefire throughout Indochina, to begin when the agreement is signed. As part of the ceasefire, there will [Page 35] be no further infiltration of outside forces into any of the countries of Indochina.
There will be international supervision of the military aspects of this agreement including the ceasefire and its provisions, the release of prisoners of war and innocent civilians, the withdrawal of outside forces from Indochina, and the implementation of the principle that all armed forces of the countries of Indochina must remain within their national frontiers.
There will be an international guarantee for the fundamental national rights of the Indochinese peoples, the status of all the countries in Indochina, and lasting peace in this region.

Both sides express their willingness to participate in an international conference for this and other appropriate purposes.3

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 107, Country Files, Far East, Vietnam Negotiations, Paris Negotiations, January 25, 1972–January 1973. No classification marking. This proposal was submitted at the plenary session of the Paris Peace Talks. The text of the proposal was released on January 25, the day of President Nixon’s speech (see Document 5). It is also printed in Public Papers: Nixon, 1972, pp. 105–106.
  2. The Geneva Accords were a collection of agreements rather than a single document. See Foreign Relations, 1952–1954, volume XVI, The Geneva Conference, pp. 1505–1539. For the text of the “Declaration on the Neutrality of Laos” and the accompanying “Protocol,” signed on July 23, 1962, see Department of State Bulletin, August 13, 1962, pp. 259–263.
  3. In backchannel message 33 from Saigon, January 25, Bunker sent Kissinger the text of South Vietnam’s communiqué on the United States–South Vietnam proposal. Although identical to this text, it added material that made clear South Vietnam’s support for the proposal, its hope that the other side would respond quickly, and an appeal to the rest of the world to support the proposal “so that peace and stability can be promptly restored in this area of the world.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 872, For the President’s Files (Winston Lord)—China Trip/Vietnam, Washington-Saigon Consultations on President’s January 25, 1972 Speech)