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

Hakto 19. Please send the following report to the President immediately.

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We had another very productive day, as Tho and I met for six hours and the experts continued work simultaneously on the protocols.2
We finished the complete text of the agreement, including the provisions for signature. The method agreed upon for the document which Saigon would sign should go far toward meeting the GVN concerns if Thieu is at all mollifiable. We also completed all the associate understandings, many of which are technical in nature. The most significant development in this respect is the North Vietnamese agreement to reduce the interval between the ceasefire in Vietnam and the one in Laos from 30 to 15 days. We now need two full days on the protocols, of which there are four (international supervision, ceasefire/joint military commission, prisoners, and mining); as well as final conforming of the Vietnamese and English texts on the agreement and understandings. We have definitely agreed that I will leave here Saturday evening,3 with the experts remaining behind to mop up any details on the protocols. It is impossible for me to leave before Saturday and it will be tough going to do it by then.
I had a long private talk with Le Duc Tho about the schedule. He has reluctantly agreed to initial the agreement in Paris provided we make a firm commitment for me to visit Hanoi within ten days after signature. He does not agree to initialing before January 23 and insists on a firm commitment to initial on that date. He agrees to a White House announcement on Monday4 that we have stopped the bombing [Page 942] because of the progress in the negotiations and that we can make a public statement on January 18 that we plan to conclude the negotiations on January 23. I have not told him that you intend to make this latter statement personally because I do not want him to think we are locked into a pre-inauguration schedule and have him toughen his stance on the protocols. However, I am sure we can get his agreement to your making this statement. In these remarks he does not repeat not agree that we state that we will initial the agreement on January 23 or that we give the exact date of the ceasefire. He does agree that we can say that an agreement in principle has been completed and that it will be concluded in the session on January 23. This is a fine point we can handle with careful drafting.
If Haig gets Thieu’s approval you can make your announcement on January 18; you would not have to await Haig’s return but could speak while he was on his way back to Washington. If Haig does not get Thieu’s approval, you might make this announcement on January 21. In either case we should proceed to initial the agreement on January 23.
Under these conditions the schedule would look as follows:
  • —January 13. Kissinger returns to Washington.
  • —January 14. Haig leaves for Saigon and an announcement is made on his trip.
  • —January 15. We announce the bombing halt due to progress in Paris.
  • —January 18. Haig returns to Washington and, assuming Thieu’s concurrence, you announce agreement in principle has been reached between all the parties for a ceasefire, return of prisoners, withdrawals, and the right of the South Vietnamese to determine their own future. The details will be concluded at the next session between Tho and me which is set for January 23. As noted above, your statement could not include the date of the ceasefire nor the fact that we will initial the agreement on January 23.
  • —January 23. Initialing of the agreement in Paris without publicity.
  • —January 23, evening Washington time. Your speech announcing the agreement, the date of the date of the ceasefire, and the date of signature.
  • —January 26 or 27. Signing of agreement.
Our major problem now, of course, is Saigon. I believe the only way to bring Thieu around will be to tell him flatly that you will proceed, with or without him. If he balks and we then initial, there will still be 3 to 4 days between initialing and signing for the pressures to build up. I have already told Le Duc Tho that we would have to discuss the [Page 943] situation in this eventuality. In any event, if we once again delay the initialing or reopen the negotiations, we would not only jeopardize but certainly lose everything that has been achieved.

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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; Flash; Sensitive; Exclusively Eyes Only. Sent via Guay and Kennedy.
  2. A memorandum of conversation of the KissingerTho meeting, January 11, 10 a.m.–4 p.m. is ibid., Box 866, For the President’s Files (Winston Lord)—China Trip/Vietnam, Camp David Memcons, January 8–13, 1973 [January 23, 1973]. Sullivan briefed the senior South Vietnamese officials in Paris; a memorandum of conversation of the meeting, January 11, 6:30–7:20 p.m., is ibid., Kissinger Office Files, Box 104, Country Files, Far East, Vietnam, South Vietnam, GVN Memcons, November 20, 1972–April 3, 1973 [1 of 3].
  3. January 13.
  4. January 15.