329. Message From the President’s Military Assistant (Scowcroft) to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1

Tohak 16. Subject: Comments of President Thieu on Signing the Ceasefire Agreement and His Planned Schedule of Public Announcements on the Subject.

In a conversation with Special Assistant Nguyen Phu Duc and Private and Press Secretary Hoang Duc Nha on the afternoon of 22 January 1973, President Nguyen Van Thieu stated that he had agreed to sign the ceasefire accord and would sign the protocols on schedule as well, “whether we like it or not.” Thieu said that he would “minimize” the importance of the protocols, as there remained things that he did not like therein. He spoke specifically of the clause limiting the police to carrying only “hand-guns,” since in every country of the world the police can carry whatever weapons are necessary, whether in peace or war, to carry out their responsibilities. Thieu then spoke of the Communist members of the military control commission, who would be able to carry out propaganda and proselything [proselytizing] activities under cover of their diplomatic immunity. He noted laughingly in this regard that there were two types of immunity; “an Embassy official is different from a chauffeur.” Thieu stated, “they will not be allowed to operate politically in my areas.”
Thieu then said that Ambassador Bunker had asked that morning what Thieu would announce about prospective initialing and signing, and Thieu had replied that it would depend on two things, namely, what President Nixon said and the results of Dr. Kissinger’s talks with the other side on the protocols. Thieu then expressed concern that if President Nixon spoke at 2200 hours on 23 January Washington time, that would be 1100 hours 24 January Saigon time, and “who’d listen at that time” in Saigon to anything that Thieu might say? The people would have heard “what the Americans have to say first.” Thieu then suggested that he might “leak” something on the evening of 23 January (Saigon time) to the effect that he would be speaking “to the people on peace and ceasefire” on 24 January, and “the hour of this speech will be announced in time for the people to be able to listen.” Then, “that morning (24 January Saigon time) we’ll announce to the people at 1000 hours that the President will speak in one hour. We’ll [Page 1147] give one hour’s warning, or if necessary, we’ll have a TV special during the day.” Thieu added, however, that on the first day (24 January Saigon time), “wewill just say very little,” and on 27 January, “that evening, I will make a long speech on the ceasefire; I’ll give the complete story.” Thieu noted that there will therefore be “a shock” (for the people) on 24 and 27 January. Thieu, Duc and Nha then debated the modalities of the initialing and signing and how best to pitch the announcements to the various segments of the Vietnamese public. Thieu stated that they will leave until 27 January any mention of the “struggle” (to obtain more favorable treatment in the protocols), and repeated that on 24 January he will only make “a short statement, that’s all, just to let the people know; and that day, we ask the people to take preparatory action and to be calm.” By 27 January, “Nixon will already have given his assurances; we’ll take those assurances and stick them into the speech.” He added that in the 27 January speech, “we will discuss what is involved in this peace, and what our concepts must be on it, and what the people must do.” He concluded by saying that the people “must not be afraid; I have promised to sign the agreement, and then I will explain it.”

End of message

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 28, HAK Trip Files, HAK Paris Trip Hakto & Tohak & Misc. Memos, etc., January 22–23, 1973. Top Secret; Flash; Sensitive; Exclusively Eyes Only.