246. 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

U.S. and DRV delegations met at Gif from 10:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., January 4, with both sides represented as on January 3.
Thach opened by discussing need to consider how we might accelerate agreements on protocols in order not rpt not delay decisions on basic agreement. It was agreed we would probably have to conduct parallel negotiations on protocols simultaneously with talks on agreement and understandings scheduled to open January 8. However, we also agreed to delay decision on manner doing this until we could discuss with you and Le Duc Tho.
After some residual discussion of location ICCS regional teams, we then turned to discussion of cease-fire. DRV made ostentatious [Page 903] effort to be reasonable and to reach rapid agreement. Net result, after nearly five hours was considerable area of agreement in principle which then required redrafting by both sides of various articles. Within this area of agreement, there are several nuggets of discord. Perhaps the most significant of these concerns our proposed Article 4 which provides for fixing opposing military forces in place by identifiable unit. Two others concern (A) aerial reconnaissance, and (B) special reference to DMZ. Finally, there is usual generic dispute over naming signatories in preamble.
The lengthiest dispute arose over our Article 4, but the sharpest exchanges concerned aerial reconnaissance, where Thach and Sullivan locked horns. Thach insisted that Le Duc Tho had never intended to agree to aerial reconnaissance in GVN and held out for prohibition in protocol despite absence of same in agreement.
After completing this canter through the cease-fire articles, we then turned to functions of four party joint military commission and agreed on consolidated version of those two articles which cover this subject. On adjournment, we agreed to meet January 5 at golf club at 10:30 a.m. to resume discussion of ICCS protocol. We have also agreed to meet Saturday,2 at Gif to try to finish four party joint military commission protocol.
Comment: Except for flare-ups on reconnaissance and identification of units, mood continued good as on January 3. Progress is tediously slow but steady, and DRV maintains attitude of apparently serious intention to reach agreement on these two protocols.
  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]. Secret; Sensitive; Exclusively Eyes Only. Sent via Guay and Kennedy.
  2. January 6.