114. Transcript of a Telephone Conversation Between the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs (Sullivan) and the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1

K: Hello.

S: Yes, Henry.

K: Bill, I talked to the President. What he’s going to say in his message2—he’s not going to refuse to see him all together. He’s going to say that we have all the information we can possibly use for this meeting. That they should get Lam to Paris or if Duc is the emissary, they’ll work with Duc and they can come back with us, and then he’ll meet them.3

S: Okay. That’s better, I think, than a turn down because if it leaves it open that he’ll be meeting them, then I think Ellsworth still has entrée, otherwise I think they just cut him off cold.

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K: I’m not so sure that what they don’t need is an absolute shot of brutality at this point.

S: Well, I think they’ve got that already in their minds, I think they understand that’s coming or about to come. What I’m thing [thinking] more of is anything that appears publicly or openly to the North Vietnamese that they’ve got some opening that they can exploit between us, then they’ve really, as you said this morning, they’ve really yo yo to us.

K: Well, this is what the President has decided to do.

S: Well, I guess that’s the answer then.

K: And, I think this is also, technically, the best way for us to operate. There’s absolutely nothing we can do now in changing our position.

S: No. I trust in his answer he will make clear you have his full powers and full authority. That’s the thing that I think still lingers somewhere in the back of their minds. If they could only get to him, they’d get him out from under that Svengali Kissinger.

K: Yes.

S: Okay.

K: Okay. He’s only saved Thieu’s neck.

S: Pardon!

K: He’s only [saved] Thieu’s position.

S: I told Phuong yesterday if Thieu had any doubts who his friends were, that we’d be happy to convince him, but if he didn’t want to see that in a most brutal form that he’d better stick along with us. Okay.

K: Okay, bye.

S: Bye.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, Kissinger Telephone Conversations, Box 17, Chronological File. No classification marking.
  2. The message is a November 18 letter from Nixon to Thieu. (Ibid., NSC Files, Box 857, For the President’s Files (Winston Lord)—China Trip/Vietnam, Sensitive Camp David, Vol. XXI (2))
  3. In a 3:50 p.m. conversation that same day, Sullivan convinced Kissinger that if the President refused to see Thieu’s emissary in Washington, Bunker would be cut off from access to Thieu in Saigon. The two then discussed the complications to American policy this would cause and Sullivan persuaded him to consider that the President should receive an emissary after the negotiating round—scheduled to begin November 20—was over and therefore not while Kissinger, Haig, and Sullivan were in Paris. (Ibid., Kissinger Telephone Conversations, Box 17, Chronological File)