265. Message From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to Richard T. Kennedy of the National Security Council Staff and the President’s Military Assistant (Scowcroft)1

Hakto 20. 1. My report to the President2 gives you the general results of today’s meeting and the scenario that is shaping up. It is imperative that you make the President understand that we are dealing with dedicated revolutionaries who have fought all their adult life and couldn’t care less about our inauguration requirements except as an opportunity to blackmail us. Any sign of over-eagerness on our part will be ruthlessly exploited by them and any deviation again from what we have agreed with them will almost certainly lose us everything. What I got from Tho today in terms of a schedule is the absolute maximum obtainable and came only after a bloody struggle since they would far prefer to have us initial the document in Hanoi.

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2. Some more details on today’s session will follow in my cable to Bunker.3 With respect to the two understandings I queried you and Haig about,4 we were forced to go to our fallback position of 12 months for the withdrawal of U.S. civilians, but incorporated their definition which should be preferable to ours which reads “civilian personnel in South Vietnam working in the Armed Forces of the Republic of Vietnam.” On aircraft carriers, we agreed to make a written understanding concerning 300 nautical miles only with respect to North Vietnam. I gave Tho an oral assurance that we would observe a 100 mile distance with respect to South Vietnam. The understanding is phrased however as our intention, rather than obligation. Tho pressed insistently for us to move our carriers the 300 miles away from North Vietnam right after the signing as opposed to after the completion of our withdrawal. I told him I would consider this overnight. Please check with Moorer whether that is possible and let me know by 7:00 am Paris time Friday. I assured Tho in any event that we would remove our carriers from the Gulf of Tonkin after the signing.

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.
  2. Document 263.
  3. Backchannel message Hakto 21/WHS 3010 to Saigon, January 11, 2121Z. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 415, Backchannel Messages, To Amb. Bunker, Saigon thru April 1973)
  4. See Document 260.