1. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Le Duc Tho, Special Adviser to the DRV Delegation to the Paris Peace Talks
  • Xuan Thuy, Minister, Chief DRV Delegate to the Paris Peace Talks
  • Phan Hien, Adviser to the DRV Delegation
  • Nguyen Dinh Phuong, Interpreter
  • Mr. Thai, Notetaker
  • Second Notetaker
  • Henry A. Kissinger, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
  • Major General Alexander M. Haig, Jr., Deputy Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
  • Winston Lord, NSC Staff
  • John D. Negroponte, NSC Staff
  • David A. Engel, NSC Staff—Interpreter
  • Peter W. Rodman, NSC Staff
  • Julie Pineau, Notetaker

[Omitted here are social pleasantries between Kissinger and the North Vietnamese, and Kissinger’s presentation of the American proposal.]

Le Duc Tho: This morning we have carefully listened to your presentation. Regarding the political questions we remarked that you have raised a number of points which are nearer to our views, but for a certain number of other points there are still differences. But regarding the military questions you have raised a number of new points, regarding the military questions, regarding the international control and supervision and regarding the problems concerning Indochinese countries, that before you did not raise; therefore the stands, the positions, of the two parties still contain many points far apart.

During our last few private meetings, particularly on the meetings of September 26 and September 272 we have put forward a number of proposals, very important proposals; we have also raised our standing on questions of principles on which we can no longer make concessions. Therefore we have shown our good will and desire of rapidly ending the war and restoring peace in Vietnam.

During the last few meetings you have also said that you really want a rapid settlement of the Vietnam problem. We have also agreed on a working schedule so as to put an end to the war in this month of October, or the sooner the better. But through the questions you raised today I am afraid that it would be difficult for us to progress rapidly and to realize the schedule we have agreed to. Therefore, in order to realize the schedule we have agreed upon and rapidly put an end to the war, I think we cannot negotiate in the way we are doing now.

If we adopt the way we are doing now, first we have to agree on the questions of principle, on the way to implement these questions, on the language to formulate these questions, and afterward we have to refer them to the two-party forum and the four-party forum at Kleber Street,3 and those forums have to agree on the questions and on the way to implement them. If we adopt this method, I don’t know how long it will take to come to agreement and to end the war, to restore peace. Mr. Special Advisor, you yourself said that if now we discuss the technical questions of the military problems, the question of ceasefire, at the forum of Avenue Kleber, it would take many weeks to come to agreement. [Page 3] And if the two South Vietnamese parties will engage the discussions on the formation of a three-segment Government of National Concord, and discussion on the third segment of this government as we propose or of the Committee for National Reconciliation as you propose, it will take a long time for these discussions, many weeks.

Dr. Kissinger: That’s what I have been trying to tell the Special Advisor for two months.

Le Duc Tho: And I have not mentioned that our points of view regarding the settlement of the internal political problems of South Vietnam are still greatly different. So this way of doing is very complicated, and certainly we can’t realize the working schedule we have agreed upon.

In order to show our good will and to insure a rapid end to the war, rapid restoration of peace in Vietnam, as all of us wish for, today we put forward a new proposal regarding the content as well as the way to conduct negotiations, a very realistic and very simple proposal, as follows.

First, on the basis of our 10 Points and on the basis of your 10 Points,4 the Democratic Republic of Vietnam and the United States will agree on and sign an agreement on ending the war and restoring peace in Vietnam as you have once proposed. This agreement is aimed at the settling of the military questions, such as the question of U.S. troop withdrawal, the question of handing over captured people of the parties during the war, the question of the ceasefire under international control and supervision in Vietnam, including the question of U.S. responsibility to heal the war wounds and to rehabilitate the economy of Vietnam. As to the political and military questions of South Vietnam, we shall only agree on the main principles. After the signing of this agreement a ceasefire will immediately take place.

Beside this agreement we shall sign another document recording the agreements regarding the exercise of the South Vietnamese people’s right to self-determination, including the principles of the details of the political problems of South Vietnam and the principles of the settlement on the question of Vietnamese armed forces in South Vietnam that we have agreed in this forum. This document will be referred to the two South Vietnamese parties for discussion and for implementation after the ceasefire. This document will be referred to the two South Vietnamese parties for discussion and implementation after the ceasefire.

Third, after the ceasefire the forum between the PRG and the Republic … the Saigon Administration will be opened for discussion of [Page 4] the internal military and political problems of South Vietnam on the basis of the document we have agreed upon here and we have referred to the two parties, for a rapidly reached agreement between the two parties three months after the ceasefire at the latest.

Beside the forum of the two South Vietnamese parties, after the ceasefire the three-party forum and the four-party forum will also develop their activities for the continuation of the remaining work. Of course, after we have agreed upon, the Democratic Republic of Vietnam and the United States will continue to meet each other to settle the remaining questions, the outstanding questions between the two parties and to remove the difficulties and the hindrances arising in the other forums.

If we negotiate in the way I have described then a settlement can be rapidly and expeditiously reached. Therefore, the present negotiations between us with a view to signing an agreement between the DRV and the US is decisive for the early ending of the war and early restoration of peace in Vietnam and to create the conditions for rapidly ending the war in Laos and in Cambodia.

On the basis of our 10 Points and on the basis of your 10 Points, we have drafted an agreement to be used for the basis for discussion of the two parties and to achieve agreement in the three or four forthcoming days. We should complete our work so that we may sign this agreement and have a ceasefire to end the war by mid-October, 1972, at the latest.

When we put forward this new proposal we do not let the political problem of South Vietnam, that is the most thorny, the most difficult problem, to drag out, to prolong our negotiations; and we should aim at rapidly ending the war responding to the aspiration for peace of our two peoples. At the same time we have taken into account the questions on which you have shown the greatest concern. Last time Mr. Special Advisor said that there was a danger, the greatest danger for you in the U.S. election, this danger comes from the part of your supporters who would denounce you to have betrayed your ally.

Dr. Kissinger: May I ask a question? Will we be given a document? Eventually? I don’t need it now, but then I don’t have to write everything down.

Le Duc Tho: Afterward.

Dr. Kissinger: That’s fine; then I don’t have to write everything down; then I can listen.

Le Duc Tho: The draft agreement, we will hand you the draft agreement.

Dr. Kissinger: At the end.

[Page 5]

Le Duc Tho: In this new proposal we do not demand the formation of a Government of National Concord before the ceasefire, but we will let the two South Vietnamese do this work, three months after the ceasefire at the latest. And this is what you yourself have proposed, the same proposal. We are prepared to open the forum of the two South Vietnamese parties immediately after the ceasefire without placing any condition, and therefore the timing of the resignation of Nguyen Van Thieu is now different from what it was before.

Dr. Kissinger: I understand.

Le Duc Tho: We have responded to what you have considered to be most difficult for you to reach an agreement acceptable to you, aimed at rapidly ending the U.S. involvement in Vietnam and the prompt return of American servicemen including those people captured during the Vietnam war and their early repatriation. This is one of our great efforts aimed at rapidly ending the war and restoring peace in Vietnam beneficial to both parties.

Last time you said that President Nixon proposed that you would go to Hanoi to meet our leadership. We don’t know whether you still maintain this intention.

Dr. Kissinger: Are you asking me?

Le Duc Tho: I am asking.

Dr. Kissinger: If we can be certain that on this occasion we reach a final agreement, which is also what the Special Advisor said, then I am prepared to go to Hanoi. I agree with what the Special Advisor said last time, if the outcome is uncertain then it would not be an advantage to either side for me to go. Therefore if we are very close to an agreement I would be prepared to go. That’s precisely what the Special Advisor said to me last time.

Le Duc Tho: Today I would like to let you know that on the basis of the agreement that we might reach in the two or three coming days, if we can reach agreement in the two or three coming days, then we are prepared to receive you in Hanoi a few days after these meetings so that we can together complete the peaceful settlement of the Vietnam problem. And we shall discuss the future relations between our two countries and on questions of mutual concern. And on that occasion the two parties will sign in Hanoi an agreement on ending the war and restoring peace in Vietnam. This is a very significant event. And we are of the view that the complete cessation of bombing and the mining of Vietnam is propitious circumstances for Mr. Kissinger to visit Hanoi. And I think that if in two or three coming days we can reach agreement here, then it will be time for the U.S. to stop the bombing and mining of North Vietnam, and the whole of Vietnam, and not north of the 20th parallel as you said this morning. And if you visit to Hanoi and the signing of such an agreement will mark a very important change in the [Page 6] relationship between the DRV and the U.S., and it is a matter of fact that if we can’t agree then the question of your visit to Hanoi will not arise.

Dr. Kissinger: If I can’t agree to what?

Le Duc Tho: If we cannot agree here.

Dr. Kissinger: That’s true. I agree with you.

Le Duc Tho: Our present meetings are of the utmost importance. It will mark the turning point of the whole of our negotiation on the Vietnam problem. This is our last effort in the negotiations that have lasted four years now in order to bring about peace in Vietnam. And I think also it is the best opportunity for you to seek a correct solution to the Vietnam problem. If in the two or three days we can reach basic agreement, then this is a very important historical event for our two peoples. If in the two or three coming days it is impossible for us to come to an agreement, then our negotiations will fall into a deadlock and the war will continue, and you will bear the entire responsibility for such a situation.

The situation in the Pacific is changing considerably. The position of the U.S. in this area is not as it was before. It is because of the Vietnam war, which until now the U.S. is still unwilling to settle. In our view if the U.S. prolongs the Vietnam war, it will be more difficult for you. The Vietnam problem cannot be settled through military means. The experience we have had over the past 10 years has testified to my assertion. As far as we are concerned, we have been fighting for the past 25 years. If President Nixon will be reelected and if he continues the war, then we will resolutely fight on for four more years until we achieve our objectives. Our people cannot be subdued and we will never surrender. Throughout our history the word surrender does not appear in our language.

But I think we should not let this circumstance happen, such condition happen. We shall do our best to reach a settlement and I think you should do the same. Then in such a way, only in such a way, can our negotiation come to good results. The war will be ended, peace will be restored, and such a day will be a day of festivity for our two peoples.

Now, please let me present the content of the draft of the agreement on ending the war and restoring peace in Vietnam. This draft agreement has taken as a basis our 10 Points and your 10 Points to be worked out. We have taken into account the position of both parties, in an effort to come nearer to each other and to reach a settlement. Today I will speak about the points, the content, in our draft agreement and about the questions you have raised this morning and on which there are still differences between our stands.

Our remarks here are still preliminary; we shall continue to give comment on the forthcoming days.

[Page 7]
  • First, Point 1, regarding the Vietnamese people’s fundamental national rights. So our proposal and your proposal have come to agreement on that point. But in your draft this morning there is a sentence, you said that “Once overall agreement is fulfilled the U.S. has no intention to continue its military involvement or to intervene in the internal affairs of Vietnam.” I think after the signing of an agreement the U.S. should completely end its involvement, and not “have no intention.”
  • Second, regarding the internal political problem of South Vietnam. First, I will speak about the general elections. You propose Presidential election; we propose election to a constituent assembly. Now we propose to mention one sentence to be agreeable to both sides: “The people of South Vietnam shall decide themself their political system through genuinely free and democratic general elections under international supervision.” And afterward the two South Vietnamese parties will discuss with each other.

Dr. Kissinger: I understand that point. But the Special Advisor skipped Points 2 and 3. Will he return to this?

Le Duc Tho: I shall come to that later.

Dr. Kissinger: You will come to that later. Thank you, excuse me.

Le Duc Tho: I shall speak about the point in our draft agreement in the order we have worked out, but it is the same content as our 10 Points.

Dr. Kissinger: That’s fine.

Le Duc Tho: Now, regarding the principle of the formation of a three-segment administration in South Vietnam. We have proposed the formation of a Government of National Concord; you have proposed the formation of a Committee for National Reconciliation. I think if we can agree on the authority, the task, the prerogative of this body then we can agree on finding a name for this body. So in this spirit we propose to call this general body, this body of power, we shall call it the “Administration of National Concord,” and we shall no longer call it the Government of National Concord. At the central level it will be called Central Administration of National Concord. At the various levels we shall call it Administration of National Concord—provincial level, district level, city level, village level. So it is a compromise between your views and our views regarding the call of this body.

Now regarding the authority of this body …

Dr. Kissinger: When does this body begin functioning?

Le Duc Tho: So this body will be formed after agreement is reached by the two South Vietnamese parties, and after the agreement this body will begin functioning within three months after the ceasefire.

Dr. Kissinger: I understand.

Le Duc Tho: But the sooner the better.

[Page 8]

Dr. Kissinger: Of course.

Le Duc Tho: Two months is better.

Dr. Kissinger: Of course. I just wanted to understand.

Le Duc Tho: As I told you the other day, in reality at present there are in South Vietnam two administrations, two armies, three political forces. To avoid conflict between the two parties and to strictly implement the military and political provisions of the agreement of ending the war, there should be a body, an organ of power in between to see to it, direct, to supervise the implementation of the signed agreement between the two parties and to settle conflict arising between the parties. Moreover, this body will operate in accordance with the principle of consultation and unanimity. Neither side will coerce the other side. But in your proposal you only speak about the facilitation, to “facilitate” the implementation of the signed agreement, to “contribute” to the realization of national reconciliation. But it is not clear how to contribute, how to facilitate the realization of national reconciliation. Here we propose that the body should see to, to direct, to supervise, the implementation of the agreements. So the tasks here have been set more concretely, more clearly; the responsibilities, the authority of the body is more clearly defined.

As to the task of the Administration, you propose to review the laws so as to make them suitable to the conditions of peace. We, we propose that the task of the Administration should insure that the laws, the measures should be suitable to the new conditions of peace and should not contradict the people’s democratic liberties and in keeping with the spirit of national concord. If you say that the task of the body is to review the policy, the constitution and to make it suitable to the conditions of peace, then it is in too vague terms.

I would like to further elaborate on the task of the Administration of National Concord, to point out the differences between we and you. About the structure, in your proposal you say nothing about the organizational structure. You only mention about the composition, about 12 men in the central level. Last time you mentioned that the body will be organized down to the provincial level and the district level. Now you retract your proposal. As far as we are concerned, we want it down to the village level, because in our view the organizational structure should come down to the district and village level, because of the real situation in South Vietnam. Because a district in Vietnam is composed of many villages. Many villages come under the control of the PRG; many other villages comes under the control of the Republic of … the Saigon Administration. Even in a village there are many hamlets belonging to the PRG and other hamlets belonging to the Saigon Administration; let alone the contended areas. The situation is very complicated. Without an administration at the lowest level as I mentioned, it [Page 9] would be impossible to settle the contention between the two parties. It would be impossible too, to see to it that the agreement be implemented. And without that, conflicts may resume between the two parties.

Dr. Kissinger: I understand the Special Advisor’s point. I just, for the record, want to say that the Special Advisor sometimes gets carried away by his optimism. I don’t recall that I agreed to the functions of these committees, much less to their operation in the villages. Up to now we have spoken of these committees in the context of elections; this is a new dimension. But I will answer the Special Advisor in substance. It is simply when he refers to my statements I am afraid he might construe silence as agreement and use it again. I understand your point, Mr. Special Advisor, I am not debating your point.

Le Duc Tho: I expound our point of view on the organization of the structure that is different from your point of view.

Dr. Kissinger: That is fine, as long as we understand each other.

Le Duc Tho: When I am negotiating with you I am not optimist, but I have our principles and I expound these principles. Probably you are not too optimistic in your conversation with me. I wonder whether this is true. Both sides should make an effort then. Now let me speak about the military questions.

Regarding the military questions, Mr. Special Advisor proposed a period for troop withdrawal of 75 days. I think that we should come now to an agreement on the period for troop withdrawal. We propose now 60 days. So there are still 15 days difference. To come to an agreement, why don’t we share these 15 days and prolong it to 67 days?

Dr. Kissinger: You see, the Special Advisor thinks like me. I was going to propose 67 and a half days. We won’t let the Minister comment; he’ll get it all confused again. Is this your proposal, 67 days?

Le Duc Tho: 60 days. So at the utmost if we can come to agreement you will propose 67 days.

Dr. Kissinger: You will accept that?

Le Duc Tho: A few days for us have no importance.

Dr. Kissinger: Well, this issue will now get settled, Mr. Special Advisor. We shouldn’t spend time on it.

Le Duc Tho: Seven days sooner or later make no difference for us. You have been remaining there for nearly 10 years now and we are still strong enough to cope with you. So seven days mean nothing. So the period for the withdrawal of U.S. forces from South Vietnam, so in your proposal regarding the withdrawal of U.S. forces from South Vietnam, you said that exception should be made for the Americans with the normal function of military attaché. What do you mean by that function? I think that if they are military they should be withdrawn, all of them. In the draft agreement we have mentioned in detail about the [Page 10] withdrawal of advisors for pacification work, advisors for the police service of the Republic of Vietnam, and all civilian personnel serving the Vietnam war. You call it civilian personnel but in fact they are military. So all these military personnel should be withdrawn.

The second question is the military aid to South Vietnam, to the two South Vietnamese parties. We have expressed our point of view many times already. In our view we think that you affirm that you no longer want military involvement in Vietnam, but you insist on continuing to give military aid to South Vietnam, so your involvement essentially cannot be ended, and practically the war will go on. But in your Point 9 you said that the parties should not introduce war matériels, arms, military personnel, ammunitions into South Vietnam. If you say so, why do you insist on giving military aid to South Vietnam? Therefore, we propose now that neither party should give military aid to the South Vietnamese parties, should not introduce war materials, ammunition, personnel into South Vietnam, neither the PRG nor the Saigon Administration. I think this is a fair proposal and I don’t know why Mr. Special Advisor stuck to your proposal.

Dr. Kissinger: Which proposal is he talking about?

Le Duc Tho: Your proposal on military aid to South Vietnam.

Dr. Kissinger: In Point 2. I understand.

Le Duc Tho: Now regarding the replacement of armaments. We propose a replacement of armaments on the principle of equality. It is fair. In proposing this we have taken into account your views on this question; that means that armaments may be replaced on the principle of equality. But we propose to let the South Vietnamese parties to agree on that question of replacement. Therefore we propose that the two South Vietnamese parties will discuss and agree on the periodic replacement of armaments and munitions, in an intention to avoid the sentence, the language, we have not agreed with each other. This shows our good will.

Now regarding the question of handing over captured and detained people of the parties. In your proposal you still maintain the denomination of “innocent civilians.” We, we propose “captured people, both military men and civilians.” So the denomination we propose is more specific, more accurate.

Regarding the controlling and supervision of the release of prisoners, in our view there is a four-party joint commission for this purpose. Moreover, there is the supervision and control of the international commission. Therefore in our view the participation of the International Red Cross in this task is not necessary.

Now regarding the question of cessation of hostilities. Among other things there is the question of ceasefire in South Vietnam. In our [Page 11] draft agreement we propose that as soon as the ceasefire becomes effective the U.S. forces and those of other foreign countries allied to the United States and the Republic of Vietnam shall remain in place pending implementation of the plan for troop withdrawal. Second, the armed forces of the two South Vietnamese parties shall remain in place in the regions respectively controlled by them. For the supervision of the ceasefire, I think that besides the International Commission for Control and Supervision, the parties concerned should set up a four-party joint commission and a two-party joint commission for the task of supervising and controlling the ceasefire.

Now for the beginning of the ceasefire. In our new proposal we proposed ceasefire, release of prisoners, withdrawal of troops, all of this.

Dr. Kissinger: No guarantee?

Le Duc Tho: There will be guarantee. And we shall decide on a number of principles. There will be international supervision and control. And there is also control and supervision of the four-party joint commission and the two-party joint commission. But we both, we should come to agreement so that the ceasefire may be observed immediately. Afterward we shall go into the discussion of the concrete regulations. We have done the same way of the Geneva Conference of 1954 and the Geneva Conference of 1962,5 because there are many complicated questions. If we engage in discussions on these questions, as you said it will take months to come to agreement. But after the ceasefire, these questions may be promptly settled. Because we shall base on reality at this point to decide the modalities. If you, as you say, want to rapidly end the war and to realize the working schedule we have agreed to, how can we go immediately into the details of these questions? We shall go immediately into the ceasefire and discuss these modalities. Probably you have done the same way in Egypt and other places.

Dr. Kissinger: We have, unfortunately, not fought the Egyptians. They would settle much more quickly than you. Their endurance is six days, not 25 years. [laughter]

Le Duc Tho: So our proposal has shown our good will, our real desire to rapidly end the war. And it is the same proposal made by President Nixon himself—ceasefire, release of prisoners, and troop withdrawal. [Page 12] So in our new proposal we have responded to your proposal, in part.

Now regarding the question of Vietnamese armed forces in South Vietnam. Regarding the so-called withdrawal of North Vietnamese troops, we have repeatedly expounded our point of view to you. We have expressed our views on that question over the four years of our negotiations. It is not the first time that we have said this. If this question is posed, as I told you last time, this question cannot be settled. So your proposal on the withdrawal of North Vietnamese troops is utterly unacceptable. We propose the following provisions. We propose the following formulation: “the question of Vietnamese armed forces in South Vietnam will be settled by the South Vietnamese parties themselves in a spirit of equality and mutual respect, in keeping with the post-war situation and with a view to lessening the people’s contributions.” We have proposed such a formulation; you have proposed the same too. If an agreement should be reached between us, we propose to record this principle: “The South Vietnamese parties will discuss and settle this question.”

Now regarding the question of healing the war wounds and rehabilitating the economy in Vietnam, we agree to recording one sentence in the agreement. We propose the following sentence: “The U.S. Government assumes the responsibility to contribute to the healing of the war wounds and the rehabilitation of the damaged, devastated economy of North and South Vietnam, without condition attached and without repayment.” The parties concerned will discuss the implementation of this provision. Besides, we may sign a protocol on this question. As to the details, we shall discuss this question. But until today, last time, you promised to have a concrete proposal on that question and to propose a specific sum. But so far you have made no mention about that. Probably you have it in your papers but you are unwilling to reveal it!

Regarding the international commission of control and the international guarantee, there are still many differences between our views and yours on the tasks of the international commission. Let me speak on the composition of the international commission. We proposed five members: India, Poland, Canada and two other countries, each party would propose one. You disagreed to that. We proposed each party would propose two countries. You considered that possibility as a positive one. Now you propose the representative of the United Nations. So from a proposal that was positive you propose a negative proposal.

Dr. Kissinger: I consider it positive; you consider it negative.

Le Duc Tho: So there is a difference in our view. In our view each side will propose two countries. We propose two countries; you propose two countries. It is fair. If now we have another member it will be [Page 13] difficult for discussion. And I think that the activities of the international commission should also be based on the principles of unanimity and consultation. We have done the same way in the 1954 and 1962 Geneva Conference. And the members of the international commission will in turn act as chairman of the commission.

As to the tasks of the international commission, we maintain our views as previously. The task of the international commission is to control part of Point 4 in our previous 10 Point proposal. That is, it will supervise the general elections and materialization of democratic liberties in South Vietnam.

As to Point 5, regarding the control of armed forces of the two parties in South Vietnam, I think in this connection the international commission will carry out its task when requested to by the two South Vietnamese parties. Because the control of the international commission in these questions is tantamount to interference in the internal affairs of South Vietnam.

Dr. Kissinger: You are talking about Point 5 now?

Le Duc Tho: Point 5. Regarding the composition of the international commission, we propose each party will propose two members. The norms to choose the members should be the countries who have not participated in the Indochina war, who have not sent troops to this war, who have not let their territory to be used as military bases or logistical bases in this war. Therefore, we think Australia and Indonesia do not meet the norms.

Dr. Kissinger: What did Indonesia do?

Le Duc Tho: [pause] It has not directly participated in the Vietnam war but everyone knows the attitude of Indonesia toward this war. So to replace India it is not adequate.

Dr. Kissinger: You are talking now about the commission, not the conference.

Le Duc Tho: I am speaking now about the international commission of control. The international commission has nothing to do with the international guarantee. Because the international commission will be set up in agreement by the parties to the Paris conference. It is not set up by the international conference for international guarantee which set the guarantee.

Dr. Kissinger: That’s your proposal; that has not been settled.

Le Duc Tho: It is our proposal. As to the period of activity of the international commission, we have clearly defined in the draft agreement.

Dr. Kissinger: Until there is a definitive government.

Le Duc Tho: Yes, it is our intention. In regard to the international guarantee: As I told you repeatedly, the conference on international [Page 14] guarantee will not guarantee the ceasefire because the ceasefire comes under the competence of the Vietnamese parties.

Dr. Kissinger: [Speaking of the cook after having been offered a cup of tea.] He is the most agreeable Vietnamese of the whole group. I have never given him any difficulty. I do everything he wants me to do. Please.

Le Duc Tho: As to the guaranteeing powers, we do not agree to your proposal on the guarantee by Japan, South Korea, and Thailand. But I think that the question of international guarantee should be discussed after the ceasefire. What we have to discuss now would be the question of ceasefire, and release of prisoners under international control and supervision, the question of reparations. As to the internal political and military questions of South Vietnam we agree on principles and the South Vietnamese parties will discuss. So the international guarantee we should leave it until later. It is not a pressing question. Maybe after the ceasefire we can talk about this question once or twice and we can come to agreement. We do this with a view to reducing the thorny questions. So our aim is to do what you proposed previously: ceasefire and cessation of hostilities, troop withdrawal, release of prisoners. But the question of your responsibility to heal the wounds of war because once the hostilities have stopped, you are to assume the responsibility.

Finally let me speak about the question of Laos and Cambodia. I have expounded our views on that question many times already throughout our meetings. You in your proposal mentioned many things throughout Indochina: the question of international control and supervision throughout Indochina, the question of international guarantee throughout Indochina, the question of troop withdrawal and ceasefire throughout Indochina. We have expressed very many times our negotiations here deal with Vietnam. We can’t discuss the sovereignties of the people of Laos and Cambodia. I have told you that once we settle the Vietnam problem, undoubtedly, certainly, the question of Laos and Cambodia will be settled and end the war. There is no reason that once the war in Vietnam has ceased the war in Laos and Cambodia will continue. I can tell you that the end of the Vietnamese war will create a very great impact that will immediately, promptly, end the war in Laos and Cambodia. Maybe it is immediately after the end of the Vietnam war. But now you propose that we should record this provision in the agreement. It is contradictory to the principle of non-interference in these countries.

Dr. Kissinger: But so is the presence of your troops.

Le Duc Tho: Let me speak. But to take into account your view I am prepared to acknowledge what I have told you previously. The question of American prisoners, we do not agree to record it in the agreement [Page 15] but I am prepared to acknowledge what I said. We can assure you that this question will be settled because the number of American prisoners in these two countries are not too great. We can discuss this question with our friends over there.

We can assure you that when the war is ended the American prisoners will return to the States in the same tempo as the withdrawal of the U.S. forces. We have no interest in keeping them behind. Because the end of the war is important for our two peoples not for the immediate period, but for relations between our countries for a long term, long period to come. Only when we have such a desire to have in view not only our relation to the present period but a long time to come, this explains our intentions and our proposals. Because we will not deal with only two or three questions. Because in my view after we can sign the agreement and end the war we shall meet many times more, because we have many questions to discuss together. Therefore, in our agreement there is one paragraph dealing with the relations between the DRV and the U.S. You will see in the draft agreement.

I have completed the presentation of our new proposal. I have also pointed out points on which we still differ. I hope you will give careful study to our new proposal. We think that we both should make an effort so that in the two or three days to come we can come to an agreement. And a few days later after the agreement you will visit Hanoi and we shall discuss more important questions. And it is your proposal, and we met it with great good will, in order to end the war in accordance with the schedule we have agreed upon.

And I think once peace is restored the relationship between our two countries will turn a new page. Resolutely we shall follow this orientation. It depends on you now. What I have been telling you is with an open heart, frankly speaking. I think that both we and you should make an effort to come to an agreement, to sign an agreement, and to end the war that has lasted rather long. But in a few days to come whether the war can be ended or not, whether peace can be restored or not, American prisoners captured in the war can return to their country soon, depends on you. As far as we are concerned, we are ready. I have finished.

Now I hand to you the draft agreement. [He hands over paper “Agreement on Ending the War and Restoring Peace in Vietnam,” at Tab H.]6 As to the text of the agreements reached between us that should be referred to the South Vietnamese parties, we will hand to you tomorrow. So they can read it, discuss it, and implement it the sooner the better but no later than three months.

[Page 16]

So I propose that we should reach basic agreement on all questions in two or three days to come. So I propose this working procedure. I propose this. I have given you the draft agreement. Tomorrow you will express your general views on that and we shall discuss point by point to see which we agree to, on which we differ, and we shall concentrate our efforts on these questions. We have two or three days of work. We should finish the settlement. And if we cannot do that, as I told you, then the negotiation will fall in a deadlock. Because this new proposal is exactly what President Nixon has himself proposed: ceasefire, end of the war, release of the prisoners, and troop withdrawal. And we propose U.S. responsibility in healing the war wounds for both North and South Vietnam, and we propose a number of principles on political problems. You have also proposed this. And we shall leave to the South Vietnamese parties the settlement of these questions within three months.

So we have responded to your proposal. We have been discussing these questions for many months now. We should settle these questions within a few days. Otherwise the question is unsolvable, because finally we have responded to your proposal.

Dr. Kissinger: Mr. Special Advisor, Mr. Minister, I first of all want to say I share completely the sentiments you expressed at the end of your presentation. Our two countries must make peace and they must start a new relationship and they must pursue that relationship with the same energy and the same dedication with which we have been adversaries before. This is our solemn intention.

I of course have not had an opportunity to study your paper. From your presentation I believe that you have opened an important new chapter in our negotiations and one that could bring us to a rapid conclusion.

May I now propose the following. Can we take a brief break, maybe 15 minutes? I would then like to ask some clarifying questions—without expressing a comment. Then I suggest we meet tomorrow, perhaps a little later in the day, say at 1:00 or 1:30, so that we have the morning to work this paper over, because it is without question a very important document.

During our present break I will think about procedures for a bit and make some proposals to you about how we can bring it to a conclusion. But I believe you have at least shown us a way by which we might conclude an agreement this month, which is realistic, which was not clear before. And I am prepared to extend my stay here if necessary beyond Tuesday if this helps our progress. So with your agreement now if we could take a 15-minute break, then perhaps you could answer a few questions and then we meet again tomorrow.

Le Duc Tho: We resolutely will come to a settlement.

[Page 17]

Dr. Kissinger: I agree with you. That is our intention.

[The meeting broke at 5:57 and resumed at 6:34 p.m.]

Dr. Kissinger: Now, I have often remarked that even in our most difficult encounters you have always maintained your dignity and your courtesy.

Now let me say a few words first about procedure and then about substance.

With regard to procedure. You have submitted here a very important and a very fundamental document. Since it is in the framework of our own proposals, it is of course one that I believe opens possibilities for a rapid settlement. These are preliminary comments; when we study it we may find aspects that are more complex. But if … I would like to make a realistic schedule with the Special Advisor. Ending the Vietnam war is an event of historical significance. And it cannot be done by one man who travels by Paris to Hanoi, who first settles something in Paris and then travels to Hanoi to sign the document. So I propose that we work the next two or three days, whatever time it requires, to develop a document which is satisfactory to the parties in this room. I must then take it back to Washington to discuss it with the President, and we now will have to expand the circle of people who have discussed it somewhat, at least to get legal opinions. Up to this point no one in Washington, not one senior official except the President, has seen any of the documents we have exchanged. But in the past—I have negotiated with many countries—when I agree with you it is very probable that this will be approved by the President, with perhaps minor points here and there. And I will stay here until we have a document that I know I can recommend—or until we know we cannot get such a document.

After we review this document in Washington I must then go to Saigon. This document says that the agreement is made with the approval of both our allies. And it is therefore essential that we have this approved. And it is all the more essential because there are here provisions about ceasefire and other matters that can only be implemented with the agreement of our allies.

Now, from Saigon I am prepared to come to Hanoi. I could go to Guam and then come back to Hanoi. I am told for technical reasons that it would be best if I did this by flying over China, and I am sure you can help us to obtain the right to overfly China. It depends whether we make it an open or a secret trip. If we make it an open trip, the way our planes usually go, it will be picked up by our radar. If we make it a secret trip I should fly over China. But we can work this out; we don’t have to spend time on it now.

In Hanoi we can complete the agreement and settle the understandings that go with the agreement. I think the formal signature [Page 18] ought to be some more neutral place, such as Paris. But we could initial it and settle it, so when I return from Hanoi to the U.S. we could simultaneously announce in Washington and Hanoi that an agreement has been reached and that it will be signed immediately, within a day, in Paris—if we can get the Minister and our Ambassador into the same room without an argument—or at any other level. I would be prepared to come back here; this is not a major matter. And we would have no objection to announcing that the final negotiations were completed in Hanoi. Now this process will take, in my view—where are we now, the 8th?—we should be able to complete it during the week of October 22. Assuming we come to an agreement here.

Le Duc Tho: 22nd of October?

Dr. Kissinger: During that week.

Le Duc Tho: To sign the agreement in Paris?

Dr. Kissinger: Everything, this document with all the changes I give you tomorrow—which you will accept!

Le Duc Tho: And after the signing, the ceasefire in that week.

Dr. Kissinger: The ceasefire goes into effect when the agreement is signed. Well, 24 hours later, we have to set a time. But it’s your basic concept.

Le Duc Tho: But in the week of the 22nd of October.

Dr. Kissinger: If we reach agreement here. I may discover—I usually do—aspects that are too complex. But if we reach agreement here I would go back to Washington, then go to Saigon early next week, go to Saigon then to Guam, then to Hanoi the weekend after. I would be prepared, maybe October 25th, to sign—not this document, but whatever we agree on. And then the ceasefire goes into effect, if not immediately then almost immediately.

And if we are that close to an agreement then the issue of the bombing of North Vietnam will take on a different aspect.

Now let me come to a few general observations.

Le Duc Tho: If we come to an agreement and when you visit Hanoi, then the bombing should be stopped.

Dr. Kissinger: Well, we will certainly not bomb Hanoi while I am there!

Le Duc Tho: All over North Vietnam, because we have come to a basic agreement.

Dr. Kissinger: If we have almost come to a basic agreement it is certainly a proposition we will examine most carefully. It is not an unreasonable proposition. We would be within a week of a final agreement, and it is certainly something then that takes on a completely different aspect. Although we would not take the formal commitment until the [Page 19] agreement is signed. This would have to be an understanding between us.

I would expect that when I am in Hanoi that we would finish every detail, that when I leave Hanoi the agreement would be completed. Otherwise there’s no point in going.

Le Duc Tho: Right.

Dr. Kissinger: So that is the schedule that I now foresee. Now I would like to raise a number of realistic problems that you would perhaps like to consider overnight and we will discuss tomorrow.

First, with respect to Saigon. You can make any theoretical comment you wish about the degree of our influence in Saigon, but if we want to meet the schedule we have to cooperate in removing the real obstacles. You remember the experience of 1968. I can assure you that it is not possible for us to do everything that we want. And secondly, we must be able to recommend to the government in Saigon with a good conscience the measures we are urging.

Now the concerns which will, of course, exist in Saigon will be that the agreement permits you to build up in your base areas, that it has no restrictions on your traditional infiltration routes and permits you to continue military activities in neighboring countries, especially in Cambodia and Southern Laos. And therefore it would be essential for us to be able to find some assurances with regard to those problems.

Now the Special Advisor has already pointed out that there are negotiations going on in Laos at this moment. I think if you and I reach some understanding with respect to these, we can give them a very rapid impetus. I also thought I heard the Special Advisor say that upon the completion of a ceasefire between us, military operations would cease almost immediately in Cambodia.

Le Duc Tho: Immediately after the ending of hostilities in Vietnam, this event can push forward the settlement of the Laos question very rapidly.

Dr. Kissinger: I am talking about Cambodia now.

Le Duc Tho: After a settlement in Vietnam we believe—we are convinced—that the ending of the war in Vietnam will push forward the settlement in Cambodia and Laos very rapidly.

Dr. Kissinger: But there are two questions: One is the settlement, the other is the ending of the military operations. I am therefore urging the Special Advisor to consider some formula we can adopt, either in the settlement or in a protocol, which puts a time limit on the presence of foreign forces in these countries and some assurances with respect to their military operations while they are there. It would facilitate matters very much on my trip to Saigon. I, incidentally, am planning to take General Haig with me, at least to Saigon. So this is one set of questions [Page 20] which I can tell you now we will have to raise with you tomorrow, and which you might want to think about.

On some other issues: It is impossible for us to write into a document an obligation that will be read in the United States like reparations. We have to find some formula to deal with this.

On your definition of what forces have to be withdrawn, your statement is too inclusive with respect to civilian personnel. But we will have an alternative proposal for you.

With respect to the replacement provisions of the agreement, it is to be predicted that the two South Vietnamese parties will never agree among each other as to the need for replacements, since they have a maximum incentive not to permit the strengthening of their opponent. Secondly, of course, we have the concern of what happens if there is a massive infusion of arms into parts of Indochina not covered by Article 9. Specifically, the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. We have a two-fold problem: One is if there’s an unlimited introduction of arms into North Vietnam—and since we have not yet agreed on the monitoring of the movement of supplies into South Vietnam, this is bound to be an inequality. So you should consider the formula we have given you, which we believe is realistic and without which, or something like it, I can assure you that Saigon will never accept these proposals.

Now, with respect to your forces. We have not asked for the withdrawal of all your forces. We have said that on the day of ceasefire there be an exchange of [lists of]7 the units that are in place in each area, which is required in any event. We would hope that such a listing on your side would show that some of the units that have entered South Vietnam after March 25 had returned to North Vietnam. Of course it would also mean that some of your units remain in South Vietnam. We simply would like the de facto situation on the day of the ceasefire to reflect some movement.

We don’t want to write it into the agreement. It is a very important element in presenting the case, and I think you gentlemen recognize its practical implications are not all that total. If we can’t find every tank we are not likely to find every soldier. [laughter]

Le Duc Tho: You can’t find them because all of them are Vietnamese. [laughter]

Xuan Thuy: And if you introduce the materials through seaport and airport we can’t know it.

Dr. Kissinger: We will agree to let you have inspectors at these places. These are the major things I would appreciate your considering overnight, and we will come back to them.

[Page 21]

May I ask one question? What happens after three months if the South Vietnamese parties don’t agree on a political framework? What happens after three months if there’s no agreement?

Le Duc Tho: You want me to answer you at this time?

Dr. Kissinger: I would appreciate it, yes.

Le Duc Tho: I think that the two parties should achieve settlement within three months.

Dr. Kissinger: But what if they don’t?

Le Duc Tho: You have responsibility to step up the settlement within three months; we have the same responsibility. Because regarding the political questions, the points you have raised and those we have raised, there are many we can agree up already. Because if now the South Vietnamese parties do not come to agreement, then we should push them to materialize the schedule because the schedule has been agreed upon. We shall do our best. On the political questions there are many points on which we have agreed. There are two major points, the question of the three-segment Government of National Concord and the question of the resignation of Nguyen Van Thieu. These are two most thorny questions.

Dr. Kissinger: But they have to settle that among each other.

Le Duc Tho: Because we both have come to agreement, and these two questions we have come to agreement, as the proposal of our side has reflected it. So it is a great effort on our part. But as to the form of the body or power in South Vietnam, you propose the Commission for National Reconciliation; we propose an Administration of National Concord.

Dr. Kissinger: No, we proposed the resignation of President Thieu in the context of a Presidential election, and therefore this matter will now be discussed among the South Vietnamese parties. It will not be part of our agreement. That is correct?

Le Duc Tho: Right. Therefore, there is one sentence in the draft agreement I mentioned.

Dr. Kissinger: I understand.

Le Duc Tho: It is a sentence saying that South Vietnam should settle their political system through genuinely free and democratic elections.

Dr. Kissinger: I understand. Now, the ceasefire, however, is of unlimited duration in South Vietnam.

Le Duc Tho: When we sign agreement between you and us, then the ceasefire begins and lasts forever.

Dr. Kissinger: Also among the South Vietnamese parties.

Le Duc Tho: Definitely.

[Page 22]

Dr. Kissinger: Now I have only one other issue that is of some concern. In the United States the issue of the prisoners of war is of great emotional significance.

Le Duc Tho: We know that.

Dr. Kissinger: And therefore the obligation with respect to prisoners held in Laos and Cambodia must be very precisely stated.

Le Duc Tho: It is difficult to record it in the document because it will involve Indochina. It will involve Laos and Cambodia. I told you that in Laos and Cambodia American servicemen are very few in number.

Dr. Kissinger: But there are civilians in Cambodia.

Le Duc Tho: There are none. There is no civilians, not in Cambodia. We know definitely. In Laos there are a few. When we come to an agreement then we should give you the list.

Dr. Kissinger: Well, we must have lists. We must have some accounting for the missing in action. We must have some possibility of dealing with the facilities. And there must be some assurances we receive from you in some form which we can show to the families of those concerned. I believe you. I see no reason why you should want to hold a few prisoners in Laos.

Le Duc Tho: I told you.

Dr. Kissinger: Yes, but we must agree on some form of getting that assurance. I don’t believe that is a decisive point.

Le Duc Tho: We can acknowledge the understanding.

Dr. Kissinger: All right. I can perhaps do best by meeting with my colleagues tonight on the document, and shall we meet again tomorrow when we can go through it more carefully? Unless of course the Special Advisor has any comments on what I have just said.

Le Duc Tho: Let me add a few sentences. Now we have a schedule proposed by Mr. Special Advisor. Therefore I think that we should make an effort to put in practice the schedule you have proposed, that is in the week of October 22, but the sooner the better. And these three days of meetings are very important. We should do in such a way that in these three days we will have reached a basic agreement. And if we reached basic agreement in these three days then we should set a very accurate schedule of work, from which we should make an effort to put in practice.

Dr. Kissinger: I agree. With the one proviso that your compatriots in Saigon are no easier to deal with than you! It’s a national characteristic. But we will make a big effort.

Le Duc Tho: That question should be understood by General Haig who has just come back from there. You will have the necessary means to influence. You should command Saigon, and not Saigon is commanding [Page 23] you. Naturally, you understand from time to time there are some divergences of views, but objectively speaking I think in the main you decide everything.

Dr. Kissinger: No, we have influence, but we don’t have unlimited influence.

Le Duc Tho: But decisive influence.

Dr. Kissinger: We don’t have quick influence and we’re dealing with a rapid schedule. So it is important, as I said, for you to study what I have said very carefully. We will make a genuine maximum effort to meet the schedule.

Le Duc Tho: In these three days we shall really do also maximum effort. But if after these three days we can’t come to an agreement, we should say it is impossible to reach agreement.

Dr. Kissinger: Well, let us not be so pessimistic. We have come so far. So let’s not even admit that there may not be an agreement.

Le Duc Tho: We should make an effort, but as you said we should not be too optimistic.

Xuan Thuy: You recalled the experience in 1968. I remember this experience very well. The experience is that the Saigon people availed themselves by the election of President Nixon to refuse to come to the conference table very rapidly. So it appears that the Saigon people are not so obstinate but you have created conditions for them to be obstinate. Now the situation is different now; you are very influential with regard to Saigon people. On that score I am optimistic.

Dr. Kissinger: If we can get an agreement here that I can enthusiastically support in Saigon, I believe we can do it.

Le Duc Tho: I think that if you and we come to an agreement here, you will force Saigon to abide.

Dr. Kissinger: No, that will not be done. It cannot be done rapidly enough but if we have an agreement here that we can genuinely believe in, then we can use all our influence in Saigon and we shall.

Le Duc Tho: So in three days time if we don’t come to an agreement it means we cannot.

Dr. Kissinger: But it means that we must have an agreement that lends itself to an easy presentation, and that requires some satisfaction on many of the points I have mentioned to you.

Le Duc Tho: You only speak of our satisfying your demands, but you have not mentioned your satisfaction of our demands.

Dr. Kissinger: We have to meet. We have made a great effort also and so we meet. You are quite right; we must do it in a spirit of mutual comprehension.

Le Duc Tho: So I propose tomorrow we shall meet again at 2:00.

[Page 24]

Dr. Kissinger: Good.

Le Duc Tho: We can work until 6:00 or 7:00.

Dr. Kissinger: Good.

Le Duc Tho: And tomorrow morning we shall study the documents.

Dr. Kissinger: Good. Thank you for your courtesy.

[The group gets up from the table.]

If we agree on a trip to Hanoi, we must agree beforehand on what will be said and what coverage it will have. I cannot be made subject of a television show. Let us come to an agreement first and then we’ll discuss the trip to Hanoi.

Le Duc Tho: Yes, the date and the time.

Dr. Kissinger: In two weeks. No, faster. About 10 days after I leave here. Around the 20th.

Le Duc Tho: Around the 20th.

Dr. Kissinger: Around the 20th to Hanoi, and to Saigon.

Le Duc Tho: How many days? Two days?

Dr. Kissinger: What do you propose?

Le Duc Tho: It is up to you. You make your proposal about where it is to be signed.

Dr. Kissinger: We could agree to it in Hanoi. What I visualize is, when I return from Hanoi there can be a simultaneous announcement that it was agreed in Hanoi and will be signed in Paris.

Le Duc Tho: When would it be signed? On what day?

Dr. Kissinger: On the 25th or 26th. Probably here. I mean for the formal signing. We would initial it in Hanoi; we would agree upon it in Hanoi. The negotiation would be completed in Hanoi.

Le Duc Tho: So only the formal signing here.

Dr. Kissinger: We’ll have the Minister and the Ambassador in separate rooms and ring a bell and say, “Now sign!” So no one has to sign first.

Le Duc Tho: So, we will consider what dates would be convenient for the work program of our leaders.

Dr. Kissinger: Good. It would be helpful if I knew before I left here. Or this week.

Le Duc Tho: What is important is on the basis of what we’ve agreed here. And I can answer you.

Dr. Kissinger: We may decide we can skip the stop in Hanoi. I may go to Saigon, and then return to Washington and then finish it here. From our point of view it is not essential to go to Hanoi. Whatever creates the best atmosphere and best helps a settlement.

[Page 25]

Le Duc Tho: Tomorrow we shall give you an answer.

Dr. Kissinger: One other question. I’m assuming the document you’ve given us is not known to others.

Le Duc Tho: No one.

Dr. Kissinger: So there will be no public discussion of it.8

Le Duc Tho: We have not handed it to anyone.

[The meeting then ended.]

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 856, For the President’s Files (Winston Lord)—China Trip/Vietnam, Sensitive Camp David, Vol. XX [1 of 3]. Top Secret; Sensitive; Exclusively Eyes Only. Brackets are in the original, with the exception of those brackets indicating omitted material and those referenced in footnote 7 below. The meeting took place at 108 Avenue du General Leclerc in Gif sur Yvette, a Paris suburb. The residence, owned by the artist Fernand Leger, became a property of the French Communist Party on Leger’s death in 1955. The Party made it available to the North Vietnamese as one of the locations for the October round of negotiations. Tabs A–G (attached but not printed) are documents Kissinger gave to Le Duc Tho during the first part of the meeting. Tab A contained the U.S. “Proposal,” which Kissinger described in his memoirs as offering “only a slight cosmetic change” from the U.S. proposal made at the September 26–27 meetings (see footnote 2 below). Otherwise, according to Kissinger, the United States intended to stand fast on the proposal, and remain committed to maintaining the Saigon government and making no more significant political concessions to Hanoi. (White House Years, p. 1342) Tab B is the “United States Unilateral Statement on Reconstruction,” Tab C is the “United States Unilateral Statement on Replacement of Armaments,” Tab D is the “United States Unilateral Statement on Withdrawal of DRV Forces from Laos and Cambodia,” Tab E is the “DRV Unilateral Statement on Withdrawal from Laos and Cambodia,” Tab F is the “DRV Unilateral Statement on Prisoners,” and Tab G is a paper on “International Control and Supervision.”
  2. See Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume VIII, Vietnam, January–October 1972, Document 267.
  3. Kléber Street was a shorthand term for the public plenary talks held at the International Conference Center on Avenue Kléber in Paris.
  4. See Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume VIII, Vietnam, January–October 1972, Document 267 and footnotes 2 and 3 thereto.
  5. The 1954 Geneva Conference divided Vietnam into northern and southern zones, essentially ratifying the Communists’defeat of the French. The Communists established a government in the north in Hanoi under Ho Chi Minh, and the non-Communists, supported by the United States, established a government in the south in Saigon. The 1962 Geneva Accords intended to establish a neutral government in Laos. However, since the North Vietnamese troops did not withdraw as promised, the Accords effectively ceded eastern Laos to the Communists.
  6. Tab H is attached but not printed.
  7. Bracketed insertion by the editor.
  8. After meeting Le Duc Tho, Kissinger directed Haig to send the following message to Kennedy for Haldeman: “Tell the President that there has been some definite progress at today’s first session and that he can harbor some confidence the outcome will be positive. However current state of play here confirms that it is essential that we make absolutely no public statements on the status of negotiations.” (Message from Haig to Kennedy, October 8, 2132Z; National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 856, For the President’s Files (Winston Lord)—China Trip/Vietnam, Sensitive Camp David, Vol. XIX) Kissinger later wrote that Le Duc Tho’s proposal represented a breakthrough moment: “For nearly four years we had longed for this day, yet when it arrived it was less dramatic than we had ever imagined. Peace came in the guise of the droning voice of an elderly revolutionary wrapping the end of a decade of bloodshed into legalistic ambiguity.” (White House Years, p. 1345)