39. Backchannel Message From the President’s Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs (Haig) to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) in Saigon1
Tohak 79/WHS 2276. Deliver immediately upon receipt.
It now appears that your meeting with Thieu is a decisive one. I have discussed the latest DRV concessions with the President and he believes that you will have to use this meeting with Thieu to make the utmost effort to bring him aboard. Attached is a message to Thieu from the President which has resulted from his study of the latest DRV message. The President believes, and I agree fully, that this latest concession if made public by the North along with the rest of the negotiating record will pose the most serious difficulties for us. Consequently, he wants you to use your best judgment in pushing Thieu up to the limit of not forcing him to break publicly with us before November 7. On the other hand, he should understand clearly that if he persists in resisting [Page 234] all efforts to settle the conflict in what we consider to be just to both sides, we will be forced to work out bilateral arrangements with the Democratic Republic of Vietnam which could risk all that we have worked so diligently to achieve. The President wants you to know that he has full confidence in your judgment on this issue. He would, of course, prefer some viable course which would permit us to delay a settlement until after November 7 and hopefully to prevent a blow from either the North or the South before that time. In the context of these broad goals which may prove unachievable, he wants you to be sure that you have his full backing for whatever course you pursue and whatever outcome that course generates.
From my perspective, the chances of getting Thieu to acquiesce are very slim, and we will have to consider immediately after your meeting what kind of response we should give to the DRV and Moscow especially. I think the President would be perfectly comfortable with our telling them that despite all efforts we have been unable to bring Thieu along and therefore it is essential that we meet with them urgently in Paris to work out alternate arrangements which might not include the South Vietnamese. We can lace this with other concerns about their going public since I notice the de Borchgrave story is already on the wires.2
Dear Mr. President:
I have studied with utmost care all of the provisions of the proposed agreement as they now stand, including the most recent concessions by Hanoi concerning Laos and Cambodia. Based on my study, I consider this agreement to be acceptable in all its ramifications and therefore urge your most careful consideration and acceptance of it.
Were you to find the agreement to be unacceptable at this point and the other side were to reveal the extraordinary limits to which it has gone in meeting demands put upon them, it is my judgment that your decision would have the most serious effects upon my ability to continue to provide support for you and for the Government of South Vietnam.
I can assure you that if you proceed with us under the conditions which now have been outlined, you will continue to have my fullest support.[Page 235]
This would include whatever military actions might be necessary in the event of an abrogation of the agreement by the other side.