262. Message From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon1

Hakto 18. Please pass the substance of the following message to the President and Haldeman for me.

Thank you for your cable2 which I shall do my best to implement. As I rush off to a meeting here are my preliminary reactions.

There is no possibility whatever of speeding up the procedures here. We are already working 15 hours a day and we will be lucky if we get out Saturday.3 We must complete four protocols and innumerable understandings.
I think it would be unwise for Haig to leave before we have concluded here. It would make it tough for us here by creating impression of eagerness. I should have a little time to brief Haig in person and give him relevant materials before he goes.
It would be possible to make a brief Presidential announcement Thursday night.4 If necessary we could make it while Haig is on the way back from Saigon.
This announcement should not go further than to say that agreement has been reached in principle and that the initialing will be done on the 22nd or 23rd.
Please remember that Hanoi may yet pull back and might not accept this procedure of initialing in Paris rather than Hanoi, which I only sprang on them yesterday. They certainly will not agree to an initialing before the 22nd or 23rd. But I believe the President’s approach is feasible, if we pay some care to his speech along the lines here suggested.
It must be clearly understood that when we conclude here we must proceed to an initialing whatever Thieu’s answer is. Under no circumstances will Hanoi hold still for a repetition of October or for a renegotiation without blowing the whole agreement. We cannot get any more concessions. If there is any intention of our renegotiating if Thieu balks I should know immediately by return cable. But I strongly urge against that.

Warm regards.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 28, HAK Trip Files, HAK Paris Trip Hakto 1–48, January 7–14, 1973. Top Secret; Sensitive; Exclusively Eyes Only. Sent via Guay and Kennedy.
  2. Document 261.
  3. January 13.
  4. January 18.