29. Memorandum From the President’s Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs (Haig) to President Nixon1
- Second Meeting with President Thieu
I have just received a brief report from Dr. Kissinger on his second meeting with President Thieu, which was a private one lasting one and a half hours. During this session Dr. Kissinger presented the package of military items which we would provide to bolster South Vietnamese forces,2 our diplomatic rationale and the next sequence of steps planned for implementing an agreement. President Thieu asked some very perceptive questions about the plan without committing himself. He did say that if he could agree to the plan then he would not object to a meeting in Vientiane followed by a final stop in Hanoi. Dr. Kissinger concentrated on the diplomatic context and explained our longer term domestic problem.
There will be another full dress meeting with the South Vietnamese National Security Council augmented by General Vien in the morning.
Dr. Kissinger also noted the following points of interest in his report:
- —The situation in Military Region 3 is not nearly as bad as depicted in some reports and General Minh, the MR 3 commander, has become more aggressive in the last week.
- —Ambassador Sullivan will be going to Vientiane and Bangkok to brief leaders there on the negotiations. Dr. Kissinger may join him in Phnom Penh on Saturday3 for meeting with the Cambodians.
- —If President Thieu approves the peace proposal tomorrow we will plan to order commencement of the package of equipment to augment South Vietnamese forces tomorrow afternoon.
Dr. Kissinger believes it is necessary to reinforce your desire for a maximum surge air effort in South Vietnam by a Presidential order. I have made this order to Secretary Laird this morning.
- Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 857, For the President’s Files (Winston Lord)—China Trip/Vietnam, Sensitive Camp David, Vol. XX (1 of 2). Top Secret; Sensitive; Exclusively Eyes Only. The memorandum is incorrectly dated October 18; the meeting to which Haig refers took place on October 19 in the afternoon.↩
- A list of the number and types of military aircraft, other vehicles, weapons, munitions, and miscellaneous equipment the United States was committed to provide is in memoranda from Laird to Kissinger on October 15 and October 19. (Ibid., Kissinger Office Files, Box 25, HAK Trip Files, HAK Paris/Saigon Trip Tohak, October 16–23, 1973 (2 of 2)) In the second memorandum Laird estimated that the total cost would be approximately $1 billion. Although much of the military assistance was initially programmed for delivery between December 1972 and July 1974, Laird, at the direction of the White House, was now attempting to see that the bulk of the material arrived via airlift no later than October 31, 1972. In the October 15 memorandum, Laird commented: “It appears that this is feasible but, as you know, will be very expensive. This would be an historical air lift.”↩
- October 21.↩