314. Message From the Vice Chief of Staff of the Army (Haig) to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1

Haigto 25. I have just completed a two hour and fifteen minute meeting with Korean President Park. The meeting on which I will report separately was highly satisfactory and we can count on Park for full support. He is skeptical of some of the provisions of the agreement but recognizes the necessity to proceed and will join in a supportive statement following the announcement Tuesday evening. He stated he welcomed the agreement and was particularly laudatory of President [Page 1117] Nixon’s strong leadership in bringing it about. He said at an earlier date he had been very skeptical of the U.S. and its conduct of the Vietnam conflict but that President Nixon, through strength and incisiveness, had brought us to the present point in which the character of the struggle will change. He said all Asian leaders are grateful for President Nixon’s strong leadership, especially his willingness to take forceful action when circumstances required.

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I have just read Tohaig 93 containing instructions for Bunker and the text of the letter.2 I believe the letter is excellent and should do the job. It is especially helpful that you expressed a willingness to make one more effort on the police issue. The rationale contained in the letter on the troop issue is precisely that that I used repeatedly with Thieu. You should be aware that I also mentioned the Goldwater-Stennis attitudes in my meetings with Thieu. The vehicle you used for setting a deadline is credible and hopefully will serve to finally get the formal answer we seek. On the other hand, we must not lose sight of the fact that Thieu may continue to play it right up to the wire. In any event, I remain totally confident that he will come along. Careful review of all press reporting from Saigon confirms that this is so. Your agreement to meet with Lam is also helpful because I am convinced that this is merely a face saving way of getting Lam on the scene for subsequent events.

All of the issues contained in the instructions to Bunker in paragraph 2 of Tohaig 93 were covered by me with the exception of reference to the inaugural address. The special note, the text of which is contained in paragraph 3, was of course handed to Thieu earier by me. Turning it into a note to the GVN is an especially helpful additional step. You will recall I gave this summary to Thieu under the title of the Question of Vietnamese Armed Forces in South Vietnam so Thieu already holds this document although I note some very minor typing changes. Putting this in the form of a specific démarche to Thieu cannot help but be most reassuring to him.

Thus far, I think we can assume that all of our Asian allies, with the exception of Indonesia who we must not forget, are fully supportive of the draft agreement. This includes Souvanna, Lon Nol, Thanom and Park. The extensive discussions I had with each of them confirms that they are fully behind proceeding with the agreement, not because it will bring a lasting peace, but because it will provide the basis for continuing the search for peace in a new and more constructive frame work.

I have just read Tohaig 98 containing your instructions to Sullivan.3 This is also an extremely effective additional step. I am in full agreement with all of the provisions contained therein, especially those dealing with the equipment for police and entry points. On this issue, I have been puzzled as to why Sullivan accepted equal numbers of entry points. I am especially pleased with your firm instructions as they pertain to Cambodia and Lao border entries. It is also helpful that we have now got the Vietnamese text of the protocol to Thieu via Bunker. Before departing Saigon I impressed upon both Bunker and Weyand and, while in Seoul impressed upon Habib and President Park, the essentiality of not instituting any preliminary steps prior to the formal announcement on Tuesday evening Washington time. They all understand and will comply. In Park’s case, he is holding up the overdue shipment of 1500 Korean replacement troops under the guise of the unavailability of troop transport.

Despite remaining chores, I return home with full confidence that everything is on the track and that the additional steps you heve just taken will further guarantee Thieu’s formal notification to us prior to the President’s speech.

Warm personal regards.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 860, For the President’s Files (Winston Lord)—China Trip/Vietnam, Sensitive Camp David, Vol. XXIV. Top Secret; Operational Immediate; Sensitive; Exclusively Eyes Only.
  2. Document 313.
  3. In message WH 30138 to Sullivan, January 20, 2343Z, repeated to Haig as Tohaig 98, Kissinger directed Sullivan to insist in the negotiations that South Vietnamese police should normally be armed with individual weapons but that no specific weapon should be mentioned, and that the points of entry reflect the reality on the ground. That is, since South Vietnam received most of its supplies by sea it should be allowed several sea ports of entry, while the PRG, receiving almost no supplies by sea, should be allowed at most only one sea port of entry. Moreover, Kissinger also instructed Sullivan to insist that there be no entry points at the Cambodian and Lao borders, except during a 60-day grace period. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 1020, Alexander M. Haig Special File, Gen. Haig’s Vietnam Trip, Tohaig 1–105, January 14–21, 1973 [1 of 2])