22. Memorandum From the President’s Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs (Haig) to President Nixon1
Washington, October 17, 1972.
I have received the following report for you from Dr. Kissinger:2
- “1. Spent twelve hours with Xuan Thuy during which we resolved all substantive and technical issues except replacement (Article 7) and prisoners (Article 8). We also conformed our texts verbatim except for those two Articles.
- “2. They were in effect giving us what we need on replacement but held it back until we would agree with their formulation on prisoners which would free all Viet Cong civilians held by the GVN. I said Saigon would not accept this and there was no sense in my writing down something that could not be implemented.
- “3. We came out very well on the other issues, including leaving nature of elections to South Vietnamese parties and specifying time limit and composition of International Conference. There were also marginal improvements in other sections.
- “4. At the end Xuan Thuy handed me a set of unilateral interpretations, many of which we cannot accept.3 They have also failed to give us satisfactory language on prisoners in Laos and Cambodia. All this suggests the need for another meeting.
- “5. Given the two unresolved issues I proposed either Option B (returning to Paris next week before going on to Saigon again and then to final stop); or meeting Le Duc Tho in Vientiane this weekend before final stop. They were clearly unhappy over slippage in schedule and suggested settling the two issues at the final stop. I said that under no circumstances would we go there unless we had complete agreement first. I said that I needed instructions from the President on how to proceed and would let them know if discussions in Saigon would permit [Page 175] us to adhere to original schedule. Xuan Thuy said he would have to refer to Hanoi any proposed delay.
- “6. I think we have come out of this meeting well. We improved the text in many places and resolved every substantive and technical issue but the prisoner issue. We have made point that Saigon must be consulted. I will see if Thieu can accept some flexibility on prisoners in exchange for good replacement language. If we need more time, I think Hanoi will agree to schedule slipping a few days—they would be extremely vulnerable to public opinion if they did not.
- “7. I will make specific recommendation on schedule once I have Thieu’s initial reaction.”
- Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 857, For the President’s Files (Winston Lord)—China Trip/Vietnam, Sensitive Camp David, Vol. XX [1 of 2]. Top Secret; Sensitive; Eyes Only. A stamped notation on the first page reads: “The President has seen.”↩
- A memorandum of conversation of the October 17 meeting in Paris, which lasted from 10:37 a.m. to 10:10 p.m., is ibid., Box 856, For the President’s Files (Winston Lord)—China Trip/Vietnam, Sensitive Camp David, Vol. XX [3 of 3].↩
- The interpretations covered the following topics: the exercise of the South Vietnamese people’s right to self-determination; problems concerning Cambodia and Laos; the resignation of Thieu; moving U.S. aircraft carriers far off the coasts of Vietnam; the U.S. contribution to the healing of war wounds in North Vietnam; the cessation of U.S. bombing of North Vietnam; the cessation of all U.S. reconnaissance activities against North Vietnam; the replacement of armaments by the two South Vietnamese parties; and the massacre of persons detained by the Saigon administration. (Tab F; ibid.)↩