244. Message From the Chief of the U.S. Delegation to the Paris Peace Talks (Porter) to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1

January 3 meeting at our house on golf course lasted from 10:30 a.m. to 5:20 p.m. DRV side headed by Thach and Blinky,2 plus five others. U.S. side same as January 2.
Thach opened meeting with response to Sullivan’s general statement of January 2. He agreed limit discussions to protocols only. However, he disagreed that only four protocols should be discussed.DRV wished to discuss all protocols it had tabled. Nevertheless, Thach accepted our agenda for ICCS and cease-fire on alternate days. He felt this would occupy our time till January 8 at which stage you and Le Duc Tho could argue about what protocols are to be discussed.
Aldrich then finished U.S. presentation on ICCS, which Porter had begun December 18. When this was finished, we began long, arduous discussion of ICCS protocol article by article. Allowing one hour for lunch, this discussion lasted five hours and progressed only through preamble and Articles 1 through 5 (B).
Thach then said Aldrich, who had presented U.S. position on cease-fire and four party commission January 2, had violated principles laid down by Sullivan. When asked for explanation, he dilated at length about U.S. desire to turn identification of military units in cease-fire into a demobilization and withdrawal trip. Sullivan suggested we discuss that January 4 and turned to ICCS.
Discussion was businesslike, detailed, and often spirited. Objectively, it could be called serious negotiation and there was genuine give and take. However, our agreements were limited and we clearly have some basic differences of approach. In summary, our results follow:
Preamble. We narrowed differences and agreed on text of operative paragraph. However, they still wish to name signatories and we hold out for “the parties participating in Paris conference.”
Article 1. They agreed to “reexamine” their list of definitions and left impression they are willing to drop the entire article.
Article 2. They agreed to drop all their repetitions from the agreement. We accepted sentence saying implementation is responsibility of signatories. They agreed to “consider” a redrafted version of operative paragraph, but gave no assurance they would accept it.
Article 3. This was most acrimonious debate and most fundamental disagreement. They finally agreed to “reconsider” phrase in their text calling for agreement of “concerned party” to proposed investigation (which they identified as party controlling territory in which it was to occur). However, we essentially consider this article disagreed and set aside.
Article 4. It was agreed to set this aside for later discussion in conjunction with unanimity features of protocol.
Article 5 (A). Agreed.
Article 5 (B). Agreed. We will locate mobile teams in 6 cities and draw operating areas on map. Thus finessing either PRG or GVN territorial boundaries.
Most enlightening discussion of day was private Thach-Sullivan talk at lunch in which Thach stated suspicion U.S. wished only ICCS and four party commissions and never intended have 2 party commission. Since 4 party commission disappeared in 60 days, we would then leave GVN under ICCS supervision. Thach pointed out this would “leave the frontiers open.” However, when Sullivan countered with need for early GVNPRG meeting on two party commission, Thach said “time not yet ripe.”
We agreed to meet January 4 at Gif at 10:30 a.m. and continue through afternoon discussing cease-fire and joint military commission.
Comment: DRV mood considerably improved over yesterday, with normal amount of badinage and social pleasantries. Negotiation was ponderous but real. Nevertheless, we obviously have major conceptual differences which will stymie agreement on truly substantive issues.
Warm regards.

End of message.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 865, For the President’s Files (Winston Lord)—China Trip/Vietnam, Camp David Memcons, December 1972 [1 of 3]. Top Secret; Operational Immediate; Sensitive; Exclusively Eyes Only. Sent via Guay and Kennedy.
  2. A nickname the Americans gave to Luu Van Loi, a member of the North Vietnamese delegation.