58. Memorandum From the President’s Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs (Haig) to President Nixon1


  • Meeting with President Thieu

Attached at Tab A is a report from Ambassador Bunker of Dr. Kissinger’s final meeting with President Thieu.2 During the two-hour [Page 281] meeting, President Thieu made the following points which reflect his present attitude:

  • —He would avoid a confrontation with the United States and would not publicly acknowledge any disagreement.
  • —He has three basic concerns about the agreement:

    The need to agree to observance of the DMZ as required by the 1954 Geneva Agreements.
    The question of self-determination to be left to the South Vietnamese people. He does not believe the tripartite formula reflects the political realities.
    The question of NVN forces in the south. He would be willing to accept an NVA withdrawal without an announcement.

    In concluding the meeting, he stressed that unless the agreement provides for these points it would result in the collapse of the morale of both the military and the people.

  • —He still believes you to be his friend and comrade-in-arms, and stated that “whether or not I am President I will strive to create conditions so that the United States can help Vietnam. If I am an obstacle to American aid or to peace, I will not stay on as President.”
  • —In agreeing with Dr. Kissinger’s political assessment that if the war continues at its present rate, in six months U.S. funds will be cut off, President Thieu stated that he does not know how to explain to his people the difficulties they will have to face. The country must be defended, but he understands that this is one part of a bigger problem.

Dr. Kissinger told President Thieu he would try to arrange another meeting with the North Vietnamese in Paris and would present the South Vietnamese demands although they will not all be achievable. He assured President Thieu that he is not an obstacle and that we have no intention of asking him to resign. He pointed out, however, that should President Thieu become an obstacle we could not support him.3

  1. 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. A stamped notation on the first page reads: “The President has seen.”
  2. Attached but not printed. A stamped notation on the first page reads: “The President has seen.”
  3. In backchannel message Hakto 48/228 from Saigon, October 23, 0340Z, Kissinger wrote to Haig: “My two-hour fifteen minute session with Thieu this morning served to ease the atmosphere and should buy us some weeks of quiet here. After his initial state of continued agitation I succeeded in calming him down and the meeting ended on a very civilized note.” (Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box TS 59, Geopolitical File, Vietnam, Trips, Kissinger, Henry, 1972, October, Chronological File)