199. Backchannel Message From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to the President’s Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs (Haig) in Saigon1

Tohaig 22/WHS 2285. To be delivered immediately upon opening of business.

Thank you for your fine reports on your meetings with Thieu and Lon Nol.2 I am delighted that Lon Nol continues to show good sense even though, as you rightly put it, he is a dreamer. As to Thieu, we can only hope that he has indeed seen the light and brought himself—however reluctantly—to recognize where his interests and those of his country genuinely lie. When you see Thieu again, please be sure to discuss with him the scenario and schedule of events which would follow if we come to an agreement with the other side. Tell him that I am prepared to come to Saigon before I make the other stop, after the other stop, or both. We need an indication from him of which he prefers. You should impress upon him that we can have no more holdups. I do not want to be faced with any more meetings with his Ambassadors in Paris and the endless palaver that we have experienced.

Please make one more attempt to convince Thieu that he needs me here. Obviously, for my part, I would be better off as being seen as his opponent, but this is not the issue. The point is that for the future he is going to need all the support he can get and thus a reconciliation with me when I come through is important and in his interest.

Before you leave, please also ask Bunker his views on what kinds of leverage, either in holding up economic or military aid or other possible steps, he thinks would be feasible as additional pressure on Thieu if we want to use it.

Warm regards.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 1019, Alexander M. Haig Special File, Gen. Haig’s Vietnam Trip, Tohaig/Haigto & Misc., December 17–22, 1972 [1 of 3]. Top Secret; Operational Immediate; Sensitive; Exclusively Eyes Only.
  2. See Document 197 for the meeting with Thieu. A memorandum of conversation of the meeting with Lon Nol, which took place from 3 to 4:30 p.m. December 19, is in the National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 122, Country Files, Far East, Vietnam Negotiations, CD-Related Memcons, October 1972–August 8, 1974.