6. Memorandum of Conversation1
- Le Duc Tho, Special Adviser to the DRV Delegation to the Paris Peace Talks
- Xuan Thuy, Minister, Chief DRV Delegate to the Paris Peace Talks
- Phan Hien, Adviser to the DRV Delegation
- Nguyen Xuan
- Nguyen Dinh Phuong, Interpreter
- Mr. Thai, Notetaker
- Second Notetaker
- Henry A. Kissinger, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
- Major General Alexander M. Haig, Jr., Deputy Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
- Winston Lord, NSC Staff
- John D. Negroponte, NSC Staff
- David A. Engel, NSC Staff—Interpreter
- Peter W. Rodman, NSC Staff
- Irene G. Derus, Notetaker
Dr. Kissinger: I know the document by heart now.
Mr. Special Adviser, we have redrafted the document, I think incorporating everything we discussed yesterday. We added only one clause, which I will explain to you when we get to it. But in order to save time, I will give it to you now. [Hands over U.S. Draft Agreement at Tab A]2 I will give you two copies.
Le Duc Tho: Let me speak a few words.
Dr. Kissinger: Please.
Le Duc Tho: From your comments on our draft of our agreement we handed to you yesterday, through your comments yesterday and our comparison with our own draft, we realize that we have come to agreement on many major problems. This is the result of our common effort, yours and ours. But there are still two very great problems left, outstanding problems between us. One of our big concerns is the question of United States assuming the responsibility of healing the war wounds in Vietnam. This is one of the most important items in our agreement. But at the same time we know that one of your questions of [Page 66] concern is the question of Laos. So today I would like to point out these two outstanding questions.
Therefore, if today Mr. Special Adviser brings about satisfactory and correct solution to the question of the United States assuming the reconstruction of North Vietnam and healing the war wounds in North Vietnam, then we shall show our understanding towards the question of Laos. We know that you are considerably concerned about the question of Laos. Because your concern is that when the ceasefire becomes effective in Vietnam, the war continues in Laos and Cambodia. Then you are concerned about the fact that we shall continue to infiltrate through the Ho Chi Minh Trail through Laos and Cambodia to bring our supplies to forces in these countries, through what you call our bases in Laos and Cambodia, to the forces in Vietnam.
Dr. Kissinger: Exactly.
Le Duc Tho: But you have also understood very clearly our problem of concern, too. Because North Vietnam has been subjected twice to United States air war of destruction. The damages are very great; the loss is very great. Therefore the healing of these war wounds in North Vietnam is not only a question of United States responsibility but it is also an action which will open up a new era in our relationship between our two countries. This action will be beneficial to you and to us too.
That is our two major problems. I have pointed them out but I would like also to reiterate here that Mr. Special Adviser should not pay constant attention to what you call the question of North Vietnamese troops in South Vietnam because we have put forward reasonable and logical solution saying that the two South Vietnamese parties will agree on the question of reduction of military strength, the question of reduction of military effective troops, and the question of demobilization of troops.
Besides that, in your comments on our draft yesterday, there remain a number of points that are important but not so too much important. That is the question of replacement of armaments; the question of the return of the people of the parties captured during the war.
Regarding the political questions we still have the question of the name of the administration of South Vietnam, the question of local elections.
Regarding the question of the International Commission of Control and Supervision there still remains a number of points where we still differ.
So all of these specific questions on which we still differ. So I propose that today we shall settle all of these major questions and specific questions. After agreement on these there is still another document on [Page 67] an acknowledgment by the two parties of the exercise of the South Vietnamese people’s right of self-determination. That we shall further discuss.
Now let me address the contents of the agreement regarding the amendments you propose and we propose, and how they should be amended.
Dr. Kissinger: We have a mechanical problem now, because we have a new document which is in our language and we would rather work from our document, not because it differs so much but because the English is so much better than in yours. Then I will go through what we did and then—why don’t you go ahead. If I am a little slow in following you, understand that I have a slightly different document. Please go ahead, Mr. Special Adviser.
Le Duc Tho: The basis of my comments now is on our document, on your previous documents, and on the comments you made yesterday.
Dr. Kissinger: Please. I know what is going to happen: When we come to the final signing, you will sign the version of Monday, we will sign the version of Wednesday, and the Minister and Ambassador Porter can then argue for two more years. [Laughter] All right, let us go ahead.
Le Duc Tho: Article 2, page 2, regarding the cessation of hostilities and withdrawal of troops.
Dr. Kissinger: Can I assume then that when you pass an article it is accepted. You didn’t operate like that yesterday.
Le Duc Tho: Exactly.
Dr. Kissinger: Fine.
Le Duc Tho: In Article 2 you propose mention of a ceasefire of indefinite duration. So we will put this sentence at the end of Article 2. The sentence we propose is “The cessation of hostilities mentioned in this Article is lasting and stable.”
Dr. Kissinger: May I make a suggestion. This sentence should be at the end of the first sentence. The first sentence says “A ceasefire shall be observed …” Because if you put it at the end of the Article it applies only to the United States, while if you put it at the end of the first sentence it applies to everybody, which I am sure is the intention of the Special Adviser.
Le Duc Tho: No, my intention is that the whole Article 2 refers to both South and North Vietnam. Therefore we mention “the cessation of hostilities mentioned in this Article is lasting and stable.” It applies for both South and North Vietnam, so it will be a guarantee for both zones.
Dr. Kissinger: All right. We make a new paragraph at the end of Article 2.[Page 68]
Le Duc Tho: Another line.
Dr. Kissinger: Another line. I agree, but will you indulge us and let us use our English, and can we say “the ceasefire will be without limit of time?” It is the same as “lasting” but it means something more concrete in English.
Le Duc Tho: So you would say “the cessation of hostilities mentioned in this Article is not limited in time and stable?”
Dr. Kissinger: In English “and stable” doesn’t add anything. What are you trying to say?
Mr. Phuong: Firm. Firm.
Dr. Kissinger: In English it would sound better if we say it is unconditional.
Le Duc Tho: Firm or stable. So our idea is that the cessation should be better if we use the word “firm” or “stable.”
Dr. Kissinger: I have no disagreement with the ideas. I agree with you, Mr. Special Adviser. He [Mr. Engel] has explained to me what it means in Vietnamese and it makes a lot of sense in Vietnamese. It is hard to find an English word for it. In Vietnamese it makes absolutely good sense but we can’t find an English word that is acceptable. We have no trouble with the ideas. We accept it. We are just looking for an English word.
Le Duc Tho: “The complete cessation of hostilities mentioned in this Article is lasting and stable.”
Dr. Kissinger: “Lasting” is “without limit.” It is better for us.
Le Duc Tho: But if we retranslate it in Vietnamese and we hold it “without a limit of time.”
Dr. Kissinger: You can call it “lasting.” You can use the Vietnamese word for “lasting” and we will use the word “limit in time.” That is no problem to us.
Xuan Thuy: “The complete cessation of hostilities mentioned in this Article is lasting and stable.”
Dr. Kissinger: We are in agreement. It is just that we have to find words that mean the same in Vietnamese and English. “The cessation of hostilities in this paragraph should be strict, complete, and without limit of time.” You say “lasting.”
Le Duc Tho: It is strict already.
Dr. Kissinger: Well, we can take “strict” out. How about “permanent?”
Le Duc Tho: “Lasting” means “permanent.”
Dr. Kissinger: Then what does “stable” mean?
Le Duc Tho: Not fragile.[Page 69]
Dr. Kissinger: The trouble is—I was just paying you a compliment. It is a beautiful expression. If we had a word in English that we could use.
Mr. Rodman [To General Haig]: Durable.
General Haig [To Dr. Kissinger]: Durable.
Dr. Kissinger: “Durable” is our word. Let me read: “The complete cessation of hostilities mentioned in this Article shall be durable and without limit of time.” And you will say “shall be stable and lasting.”
Le Duc Tho: All right.
Dr. Kissinger: In English “durable” means something not fragile. It is as close as we can come. You can use your phrase in your document.
Le Duc Tho: Durable and long-lasting.
Dr. Kissinger: We can’t say long-lasting. No, we have to say “without limit of time.”
Le Duc Tho: What we propose, this is not that it will cover our desire to make war again but it is conforming with our Vietnamese language only.
Dr. Kissinger: I understand. So why don’t we agree in English that we say “shall be durable and without limit of time.” We both understand that what we are saying is that it is indefinite duration.
Le Duc Tho: Both sides understand it this way.
Dr. Kissinger: We both understand. Just to make sure because we don’t want to have a misunderstanding: The word “durable” to us means it is strong in character and quality, and the word “lasting,” the way we use it, means there is no time limit.
Le Duc Tho: So in Vietnamese we write “lasting.”
Dr. Kissinger: Yes, with the understanding I have just expressed to you. Do we understand each other, so there is no dispute later?
Le Duc Tho: Yes.
Dr. Kissinger: All right. You can write it that way and we write it this way.
Le Duc Tho: This part of the sentence we can use this way, but for other parts, if we can avoid this one-side-use-one-word-and-the-other-side-use-another-word.
Dr. Kissinger: I agree.
[Omitted here is a discussion of the removal, deactivation, and/or destruction of mines in North Vietnam’s coastal waters.]
Le Duc Tho: I propose now a half hour or a little more so that we can see into your new document.
Dr. Kissinger: Good. As long as you look into the document, Mr. Special Adviser, may I call your attention to Article 16, in which you [Page 70] asked us to show our understanding for your problem. We are prepared to add a phrase to it. We will add the phrase “contribute to healing the wounds of war and to postwar reconstruction.”3
Le Duc Tho: But it’s only a sentence in general terms but we should discuss it in more detail.
Dr. Kissinger: Yes, but it is very similar to the paragraph you had.
Le Duc Tho: Yes, but when we discuss this we should go further into details not to be recorded in the agreement.
Dr. Kissinger: I agree with you. I agree with you.
[There was a break from 11:02–11:40 a.m.]
Le Duc Tho: Let us resume.
Dr. Kissinger: May I make a suggestion? When the Special Adviser began this morning’s meeting he pointed out that if we meet his concerns with respect to reconstruction he would take into account our problems, which he summarized very well, with respect to Laos and Cambodia. And since he pointed out that these were our principal problems, I wonder if we can hear what his views of them are because they would then in turn affect all our other deliberations.
Le Duc Tho: But do you correctly understand our question of concern?
Dr. Kissinger: I correctly understand your question, which has two parts. The first part was that you need for moral and other reasons in this agreement a statement about healing the war wounds. We have given you that statement even though it is very difficult for us.
Your second point is that you would like to discuss with me a concrete program. To that I want to say the following: First, it is in our mutual interest that we develop such a substantial program because, to tell you frankly, the best guarantee we have that these agreements will in fact be carried out is to be certain that you will concentrate on tasks of reconstruction rather than on tasks of war. And the more we cooperate together on tasks of reconstruction, the more there will be mutual trust. So I would undertake when I return to Hanoi to discuss with you in more detail what such a concrete program might look like. But I can tell you now that it will be substantial and that it will be pursued energetically. We are perhaps the only major country—we are in any event a country whose only interest after peace is restored in North Vietnam is [Page 71] to have you strong, independent and developing. And in this sense we will be prepared to work with you very closely.
So I think I have gone beyond the answer you asked for yesterday.
Le Duc Tho: Let me ask Mr. Special Adviser this: As far as we are concerned, after the end of the war naturally we will be engaged in peaceful construction of our economy. Naturally also in this peaceful construction of our economy you will contribute an important part to this work, meaning healing the wounds of war of North Vietnam. It is not only a question of your responsibility, but it is a question beneficial to us and to you. That is the reason why yesterday I told you that when it is necessary to fight, we fight with determination, but when we decide to have a settlement and to engage in the direction of peaceful construction, we are also doing it with determination.
Therefore what I have told you about my understanding of your question of concern shows the direction we want to follow and to show that we have understood your question of concern. If we wanted war, we would not express our views in such a way. But you too should understand our requirements, because in negotiations there should be reciprocity. You have understood that.
Previously you had raised a concrete amount of money. We have raised also a concrete amount of money. Now what is your view in this connection? As to a program for reconstruction, you said a substantial one and you shall discuss when you are in Hanoi. Previously you have given specific assessment or evaluation of the sum. Please now give another assessment or evaluation. As to the detail, we shall discuss it in Hanoi.
Dr. Kissinger: Mr. Special Adviser, if we were engaged in discussions that would probably lead nowhere, it would be easy to give a figure. But I believe we are engaged in a discussion that will lead to success, and I believe also that in this discussion it is very important that we put our relationship on a new basis in which confidence can develop. We have been fighting each other for ten years. The American people have been conditioned to believe—I am speaking honestly with you—that you are untrustworthy, and—not the people you see, but the average American—and determined to make war, and many other attributes that they do not like. So we have a problem, both of us, to turn this public attitude around. We have done this with respect to China, so we know we can do it with respect to you.
And that is why at the end of the session last night I said to you that for a few months we have to show understanding to each other. I am saying this with an open heart. Because for the first few weeks after we make this agreement everybody is going to try to find what is wrong with it and what you are going to do to us. So we have a difficult problem. Now I say this because, on the other hand, if we can manage [Page 72] the next few weeks well—and my trip to Hanoi, one reason is to bring this about—then we can move to develop a program of economic reconstruction.
When we gave you a figure of $1.5 billion a year, we thought that about $600 million of this could go to North Vietnam for a year. My own personal judgment is that the first year it may be a little less; the second year it may be substantially more. This is my personal estimate, but I would have to check it more carefully when I go back to Washington.
Le Duc Tho: Last year when speaking of this question you mentioned a sum of $2.5 billion for North Vietnam.
Dr. Kissinger: Over five years. That is about $500 million a year.
Le Duc Tho: Now you said that each year North Vietnam may have $600 million; it will be $3 billion for five years, but the recent air war against North Vietnam has caused considerable losses, not only material losses but human losses, and a great deal of damages to the lives of the people. And so the amount as you proposed is not sufficient to make a counterpart to the losses and damages suffered by our people. I propose that after we make this agreement we shall make a protocol on this question between us, of cooperation between the two sides on this question. We have drafted also a short protocol of one page for your consideration. Just like when you give aid to other countries there is a protocol about it. [Hands over DRV “Protocol on Healing the Wounds of War,” Tab B]4 This is evidence of mutual trust, so that we can rapidly reach settlement of the problem.
Dr. Kissinger: [Reads the paper]Now this is something I would have to take to Hanoi with me. Because this requires Congressional action and large sums of money. And what is your idea—to publish this protocol?
Le Duc Tho: Between us.
Dr. Kissinger: This we would really have to study. And it is not a question of intention; here it is a question of managing. Let me give you an example, which is not exactly correct. If the Japanese in 1945 had asked the Americans, “How much will you contribute to the reconstruction of Japan?” the answer would have been “nothing,” or next to nothing. In fact, as our relationships developed, we made an enormous contribution, which if we had attempted to lay it down at the beginning, could never have been made. It is not a good example, because you are not defeated. I am just trying to say that as our relationships develop, I believe the sums will be larger than we can now determine.[Page 73]
But I believe that it will be possible for us to form a Joint Commission. I believe that paragraph 1 is essentially acceptable. Paragraphs 2 and 3 I will have to examine.5 And it is impossible to make a commitment without Congressional approval of any specific sum. But we can tell you that the spirit of this document is consistent with our objectives.
So when I return to Washington I shall have immediate consultations with those of our officials who are responsible for the management of aid. I will also discuss the matter with the President of the World Bank. The real problem here is not whether to do it but how to do it, and what precise sum we shall agree to. But I will try to make a very realistic proposal to you when I come to Hanoi, if you want it earlier, to transmit it through the liaison officer here. But I understand what you want. I must tell you frankly that the sum is more a question of whether to specify it and how to specify it, because it does us no good to sign a protocol which we then cannot implement. So I can tell you now that the principle of it is acceptable to us.
Le Duc Tho: Which principle?
Dr. Kissinger: The principle of a contribution. The principle of a five-year program. The principle of a substantial sum. I have given you my estimate of $3 billion; you say $4.5 billion. It is very abstract right now, because when you understand our system these sums will have to come from many different sources and we will have to see how to piece them together.
I tell you frankly that I believe a Joint Commission between us for the economic reconstruction of North Vietnam is a better guarantee for peace in Indochina than a Joint Commission on the Ho Chi Minh trail, because such a Commission would show that we have made peace and not an armistice. So we will strongly support it. But on the other hand, for the immediate period, we need the other.
Le Duc Tho: Yes, I have listened to your statement but I would like to raise again the question of the protocol because it is a normal thing. If a Joint Commission should be established it is one question, and it is another question that everywhere there is protocol. What is your view now? And if you go to Hanoi then we shall have a protocol made in Hanoi between the two parties.
Dr. Kissinger: I will have to study. This is new to me.[Page 74]
Le Duc Tho: Naturally.
Dr. Kissinger: I believe that a protocol between our countries on economic reconstruction is possible. I think it is even essential. It may have to be done in two parts: It may be that when I come to Hanoi we can express a joint intention to move in a certain direction, which we would agree to keep secret, and that then early next year we sign a formal agreement between our two governments which would be public, which puts it into effect.
Le Duc Tho: So if we can come to a basic agreement here then we should discuss this question in detail.
Dr. Kissinger: What I will promise I do is—you will see, when we publish this agreement, I will have to be the principal person defending this document. And when I present this agreement, that is in two weeks, you will see that I will lay the basis for the conception of a substantial program of reconstruction. But you must understand that we have to condition our people for it. And there has to be a minimum of trust now, so that when I promise you something I will want to keep it, if we are to put our relationship on a new basis.
The Special Adviser said that you are determined in war, but also determined in peace. You will see this is our attitude also. We will move rapidly and energetically to improve our relations and to help rebuild your country. It is in our common interest.
Le Duc Tho: It is because of our good will and desire to reach a peaceful settlement of the Vietnam problem that we have followed a very positive orientation.
Dr. Kissinger: I know. I am convinced of this.
Le Duc Tho: And not only for the purpose of peaceful settlement of the Vietnam problem but also with a spirit of mutual cooperation between our two countries in economic construction that we propose this.
Dr. Kissinger: But it is important for our long-term relations that we make this not in a way that it can be presented as buying ourselves out of the war, but as a positive action in our mutual interest for the future of our relationship and not to settle the past. It must be consistent with our dignity, and your dignity, for it to have the effect which you have described, if it is to last.
Le Duc Tho: It is also our attitude too. We propose this question not in a spirit that we wish that you give us a sum of money. Our conception is that the war has caused considerable destruction and damages to our country and it is your responsibility in healing these wounds of war, but at the same time it is opening a new era of cooperation between our two countries on a new basis and in building up a new relationship based on trust and long-term interests.
Dr. Kissinger: This is exactly our attitude.[Page 75]
Le Duc Tho: But I have asked you about a specific sum; it is to have an idea of the amount you can contribute. As to the exact sum, you will discuss with our leaders in Hanoi. But personally I think that the sum you have proposed is too little in comparison with the destruction and the sufferings of our people. I think that we should not go in further detail in discussing this, but we will stand this way and we will discuss it in Hanoi.
Dr. Kissinger: Let me say one more thing, simply for the thinking of your leaders. Most of your relations have been with countries in which the government could make all the conclusive decisions. As you move into a relationship of friendship with us, you will see that our situation is more complex. For example, in order to help you more fully in this reconstruction we must mobilize, and we intend to mobilize, many private groups—which are somewhat more influential than the ones you have up to now invited to Hanoi. [Laughter]
Le Duc Tho: Recently there is a proposal from Mr. McNamara to go to visit—and many other Americans.
Dr. Kissinger: Yes. What we can do for you is, we will coordinate all of these activities and we will put them into a coherent program and we will stimulate them, and therefore the sums that we can get from the government will not be the total amount. Because we can help mobilize some funds from other countries as part of a consortium. But you have to give us a little time to develop this. Just as it is hard for you to do things while we are bombing, it is hard for us to do certain things while you have our prisoners.
But this is the direction in which we are determined to move and you can count on it. I will be much more specific when I am in Hanoi. I will study the problem. If you will ever let me get back to Washington, I will study the problem there immediately.
Le Duc Tho: The primary thing, and to lay the basis for our relationship, is to achieve an agreement.
Dr. Kissinger: Oh yes, we have to settle this.
Le Duc Tho: And so, if we have not yet achieved our agreement then we come to nothing. Now let me express my views to show our taking into account the question of your concern, and to show you also that we are reasonable people when we settle the problem.
Dr. Kissinger: I am not so sure about the Minister.
Xuan Thuy: So I am.
Le Duc Tho: And so if I show this good will I think that we should go more rapidly and avoid complicated things, because if we settle the major problems then the minor ones will be settled rapidly.
Dr. Kissinger: That is why I thought we should talk about this first.[Page 76]
Le Duc Tho: Let me do that. But what I am telling you is something frank, straightforward, with an open heart. In settling anything we should have a real desire to settle it. I have never made pressure on you. But definitely you can’t make pressure on me too. When we achieve a settlement this settlement should be reasonable for both.
Dr. Kissinger: I agree.
Le Duc Tho: Now the question of greater concern of yours is the question of Laos. Objectively speaking, the question of Cambodia is different from the question of Laos. So in envisioning our conception the Vietnam problem will be settled first, then the question of Laos. Objectively speaking. But in starting anything I should point it out first—in starting anything we start from the principle of respecting the concerned peoples’ fundamental national right. We shall discuss with our friends, our allies, in Laos to speed up the negotiations, to hurry them to results. So for the problem of Laos, after the ceasefire becomes effective in Vietnam, after the peaceful settlement of the Vietnam problem, we think one month after, then all foreign powers—not only us but you too—should put an end to all their military activities and to abide by the principle I mentioned to you before. That is to say that all foreign troops should be withdrawn from Laos and should refrain from reintroducing armaments, military personnel, war matériel into Laos. That is Article 15(b). So in the agreement we record as 15(b) has been drafted, but we shall give you a statement. We can’t record my statement in the agreement. It is an understanding between us. Because I have given you one month, because we have to exchange views with our friends and it will take some time. But we shall strive to do it the sooner the better, as soon as possible, but at least it will take one month.
So I think I have satisfied all your concerns. Therefore now all the provisions you have made about the resistance of base areas in Article 7 I think should be deleted, because if all foreign troops are withdrawn from Laos, and a ceasefire has been observed in Laos, then there are no base areas in Laos.
Dr. Kissinger: Now let me understand one thing. I just want to sum up, to make sure that I have understood you correctly.
Le Duc Tho: I shall give you a statement in writing.
Dr. Kissinger: Right, but it says “one month after this agreement goes into effect,” one month after the ceasefire. [Le Duc Tho nods yes.] There shall be a ceasefire in Laos. That when this goes into effect the provision of Article 15(b) will be in force. [Le Duc Tho nods yes.] And all your forces will be withdrawn. Of course, all of ours also.
Le Duc Tho: And your allies, the Thai troops.
Dr. Kissinger: We shall discuss with Thailand.
Le Duc Tho: That is why we have to discuss with our allies too.[Page 77]
Dr. Kissinger: Now supposing the Chinese refuse to withdraw their troops.
Le Duc Tho: Of course we can’t decide that, but I think you too, you can’t decide that.
Dr. Kissinger: No, but I want to have it understood. Even if the Chinese keep their troops there you will withdraw your troops.
Le Duc Tho: We shall abide by Article 15(b).
Dr. Kissinger: Yes, but Article 15(b) could be interpreted to say that your troops will be withdrawn only if all foreign troops are withdrawn.
Le Duc Tho: Probably you are a philosopher. You have an extraordinary interpretation of this article, but politically speaking I think we should have a correct interpretation of the article.
Dr. Kissinger: I understand now. You will give us a statement to that effect.
Le Duc Tho: I shall give it to you.
Dr. Kissinger: But the practical problem—you do not want it published.
Le Duc Tho: No, understanding. There are things we agreed by understanding and we abide by it. You should understand.
Dr. Kissinger: No, I understand the problem. It will present us with some problems, first of all in Saigon—which I don’t think will cause the Special Adviser sleepless nights—and secondly, when we present this agreement what to say publicly, because this is one of the first questions we will be asked. But I think that is probably manageable. And perhaps if we make an agreement and I come to Hanoi the Special Adviser will coach me a little bit on the handling of the press, which he does so well. [Laughter] But I understand this point.
Now I told you yesterday we have three problems. One is Laos. I think I understand your view and I won’t ask for any additional clarification.
The second is Cambodia. Now I understand that with relation to Cambodia your political situation is much more difficult than with relation to Laos, because your friends in Cambodia live in Peking. [Laughter] And that presents a more complex situation. So I understand this very well. But let me tell you what my problem will be, first within my government and then in Saigon: It will be said that this agreement does not prevent your resupplying your base areas in Cambodia and that the provisions about military aid are not applicable to your forces in Cambodia. This presents a great difficulty for us, how to explain it. And since we know that in the recent history your forces—speaking here openly—have used these base areas in Cambodia and then come across the border, this is a serious problem.
Le Duc Tho: Have you finished?[Page 78]
Dr. Kissinger: I have finished. It is a problem I am putting to you in an open way.
Le Duc Tho: Those problems you put before us which we can solve, we shall do so. But there are problems which contain difficulties. You should understand also these difficulties of ours. While we peacefully settle the Vietnam problem, we discuss with our allies to reach a peaceful settlement of the Lao problem. And in the agreement we have explicitly said that we shall refrain from introducing armaments and war matériel into South Vietnam and into Laos. But you should do the same too.
Then with regard to Cambodia we shall follow the same principle, once there is a settlement in Cambodia. But as I told you repeatedly, the peaceful settlement of the Vietnam problem will create, will pave the way for the settlement of the problem of Laos and Cambodia. But once the Vietnam problem has been solved, once the Laos problem has been solved, then it will create propitious conditions for the settlement of the Cambodia problem. Naturally, Cambodia contains these difficulties as you understood, but it will create the conditions for a settlement. I believe that our friends, our allies in Cambodia will follow the same orientation. There are three Indochinese countries closely linked to each other, to wage resistance war. Now if two countries have reached a peaceful settlement the third one will follow the same orientation. It is what I am thinking.
You are Americans. It is said that Americans are very realistic. You should understand that. So the question of the solution of the Vietnam problem and the Lao problem, and particularly Article 15(b) as it is written in the agreement, is a great evidence of our good will. And the understanding I have told you.
Dr. Kissinger: I understand.
Le Duc Tho: So it is clear. It is explicit.
Dr. Kissinger: Of course I haven’t seen it yet. Could I see it?
Le Duc Tho: I shall give it to you later. I told you that it is an understanding between us, and confidential.
Dr. Kissinger: Yes, you can count on that. Now is it possible to have an understanding?
Le Duc Tho: Let me ask something more. But on the other hand you should also instigate your allies to move to the settlement with good will.
Dr. Kissinger: Yes, we will do that. We will use our maximum influence, and our impression is the same as the Special Adviser’s: that the Laotian problem can be settled within a month, and maybe sooner.
Le Duc Tho: Frequently you refer to over-optimism.[Page 79]
Dr. Kissinger: Well, but this is our assessment of the situation. Now, with respect to Cambodia, can we have an understanding that no offensive operations will be taken within Cambodia by the Vietnamese forces? And we will use our influence and undertake—will guarantee—that no offensive operations will be taken against Vietnamese forces in Cambodia.
Le Duc Tho: What we can do for the time being, I have told you that. But as regards Cambodia the situation is more complicated. There are other forces too, those of Sihanouk. Therefore I have told you that we should not raise too many complicated things. But as I told you, once we settle the Vietnam problem, then there are many real things, real possibilities that we can’t see now. But after the settlement of the Vietnam problem then these real possibilities appear every day, because the entirety, the real things change. A settlement of one problem will have its impact upon other problems.
Dr. Kissinger: But why is it difficult? I understand that you do not control the forces of Prince Sihanouk. And in fact, when peace is restored, the Special Adviser can tell me his personal opinion whether Prince Sihanouk controls his forces. [Laughter]
Le Duc Tho: He does. He does command. He is the Chief of State. I think someday he will return. My personal view, I think that you should also go in this direction of a settlement.
Dr. Kissinger: But why is it difficult to agree that the Vietnamese forces in Cambodia not take any offensive action? We do not ask for a guarantee that the other forces not take offensive action?
Le Duc Tho: Because the Vietnamese forces in Cambodia are linked, closely related to Cambodian forces. They can’t be separated now. Once the problem of Cambodia is settled, it is settled for all fighting forces in Cambodia, not separated for the Vietnamese forces only. This is an objective thing, reality. When the Cambodian problem is settled, the problem will be settled completely and wholly. This problem is as it is now. You should understand. The most practical thing is that we should achieve this agreement. If we can settle the Vietnam problem then all other problems …
Dr. Kissinger: But you will have to understand. I will want to consider for a few minutes. We will complete this discussion and then perhaps we should have a 15-minute break. We will hold our airplane. I said 4:30, but we will hold our airplane until we complete the discussion. But you must understand that if we make an agreement in which we say nothing specific about Cambodia and if afterward you bring about by your actions a change in the situation in Cambodia, that it would totally undermine the agreement that we have reached and the possibility of mutual trust between our two countries.[Page 80]
Le Duc Tho: I point out one thing very practical to you. You are still speaking in your own things, but I can tell you that the settlement of the Vietnam problem and of the Laos problem will bring about a big change in the situation. You should realize that. So I think that we should stop the discussion on the question now, because it is a whole hour discussing. You understand the problem thoroughly now?
Dr. Kissinger: But the Special Adviser overestimates my intelligence. I am a slow student as he often pointed out to me.
Le Duc Tho: Because you are too suspicious.
Dr. Kissinger: I have never found that excessive trust is a Vietnamese vice. [Laughter]
I have three problems: Laos, Cambodia, and your forces in the South. Do I understand the Special Adviser correctly, that he proposes that we add a clause to the agreement to the effect that the two parties will discuss the reduction of their military effectives and that the forces reduced should then return to their native homes? Is this my correct understanding?
Le Duc Tho: I propose to put this provision in the article dealing with the question of Vietnamese armed forces. But I should point out when I say reduction of military strength, military effectives, and demobilization of troops, it means that they should get out of the army, but as to where they will go to, their home or other places, is up to them.
Now I would like to raise another question to you. I have been telling you over the past four years of our negotiations that the question of North Vietnamese should never be raised because it is contrary to the real things, legal things, political things and moral things. When we propose the approach of reduction of military effectives and demobilization, it is a fair solution and conforming to reality. If you look at all the provisions as a whole, you will realize that all of these provisions testify to our desire to progress, to our peace orientation—on many questions, not only these agreements.
Your trip to Hanoi is in the direction of peace. You have not realized that our people have been fighting against United States aggression for national salvation for over ten years now. You can imagine their feelings, their indignation, hatred and so forth. And in such circumstances we agree to receive you in Hanoi while the war is still going on. Without a desire to go forward in the direction of peace and to find a way of peace, this decision would not be made. Therefore, for the purpose of settlement we should go rapidly in achieving this agreement so that we can move also rapidly toward peace. But I should also add that we are deeply attached to peace, but not at any price. You should understand this. Therefore, you should also make an effort so [Page 81] that we can achieve the agreement today, because otherwise it will not work.
Dr. Kissinger: We shall make an effort.
Le Duc Tho: Moreover we have a schedule to do. We should meet the schedule we have made. I have told you this from the bottom of my heart, an open heart. I have met you 20 times now but I have never spoken to you in this way.
Dr. Kissinger: That is true.
Le Duc Tho: So let us have a 15-minute break.
Dr. Kissinger: Let me say one thing. We have two problems: one is substance and the other is presentation. I personally believe if you want to break this agreement, there is nothing we can write in here to keep you from breaking it.
Le Duc Tho: This is a realistic understanding you have, but in any case the agreement should be a correct one.
Dr. Kissinger: I agree, it should be a correct agreement. But what I want to say is if you want to make war you will find a way of making war.
Le Duc Tho: You should pay attention to this legal aspect, but you are too suspicious.
Dr. Kissinger: No, it is not my personal conviction, but it is the problem of how, in the limited time we now have, to convince our government, to convince the Saigon government, and then to convince the American people in such a way that the economic measures can be put forward and we do not spend all our time in mutual recrimination.
I want to say one thing to the Special Adviser. You have many forces in South Vietnam which are close to the demilitarized zone which could move the 20 miles north without affecting the situation significantly. Not as a promise to us, not as an understanding, but if some movement occurred that our intelligence people and military pick up—in fact if you would communicate a little more frequently than you now do!—then it would be very helpful to us, then we would have a basis for discussion with our allies without bringing about an enormous practical change. I say this to get our agreement approved, and not because I do not understand the concern for your forces. It is not a formal proposal.
Le Duc Tho: Let me answer.
Dr. Kissinger: If you answer negatively I would rather not hear it!
Le Duc Tho: You like it and you should listen to it. You see you only mention your difficulties, your difficulties with the American people, with the Saigon government, but you should know that we have our difficulty. We have our friends, our people, our allies. If we have a real desire to reach a peaceful settlement, we have all possibilities [Page 82] to surmount, to overcome, all difficulties. But if we have not such a desire then the discussion of only one word will take three days and we can’t come to an agreement. I have been negotiating with you for a long time now. If we wanted to drag the negotiations, we have many methods. You, too, have such methods.
Dr. Kissinger: I am familiar with the methods.
Le Duc Tho: But these methods cannot deceive anyone. We, in the same way. You in the same way because we have understood each other. This is frankly speaking. You say that you want to overcome some difficulties to reach a settlement. You have your difficulties; we have many difficulties too. So for purposes of settlement we should understand the situation in an objective way and we should not raise too many complicated problems. Each problem should have its limit. You, too. We, too.
[Omitted here is discussion of the mechanics of the negotiations; Kissinger’s apology for the air attack on Hanoi the previous evening; the removal of foreign troops and military equipment from Laos after a cease-fire; a ban on the introduction of armaments into South Vietnam via neighboring countries; an informal understanding about the withdrawal of North Vietnamese troops from Cambodia; the reduction of North Vietnamese troops from South Vietnam; ending United States air reconnaissance over North Vietnam; stopping American military activities in South Vietnam when a cease-fire goes into effect except for air reconnaissance; the requirement that South Vietnamese, North Vietnamese, and Viet Cong troops stay in place when the cease-fire begins and that the locations be identified by the Joint Commission; the general status of this negotiating round.]
Le Duc Tho: Article 5. We propose the following: “As of the signing of this agreement, shall be completely withdrawn from South Vietnam all troops, military personnel of the United States and those other foreign countries allied to the United States and to the Republic of Vietnam including military advisers, technical military personnel, the advisers for paramilitary organizations, advisers for pacification, advisers for the police forces, advisers for the psychological warfare and all civilian personnel serving in military branches and all branches of the Republic of Vietnam relating to the waging of war. This withdrawal would be completed in 60 days.” We have reduced in length this provision.
Dr. Kissinger: I’ve never heard of the psywar advisers.
Le Duc Tho: We have reduced the length of this article. In the Geneva Conference of 1952 and 1964 they enumerate what shall be withdrawn. But in the provisions it is deleted “for other branches of the Republic of Vietnam.” As to the aircraft carriers and United States warships, you said you put in your agreement, but it is not.[Page 83]
Dr. Kissinger: Oh no, we cannot put them in the agreement.
Le Duc Tho: So please give a verbal statement that we can take in our session, take note.
Dr. Kissinger: The verbal statement is that “After the withdrawal of our forces is completed, the aircraft carriers will be moved a distance of 300 miles from the shore except for [movement for] transit purposes.” Now it is important that we keep that assurance confidential until I can tell you when.
Now to get back to the categories of people you would like to eliminate. Of course you understand we cannot obsolutely guarantee the withdrawal of other foreign countries, but we will use our influence. We do not think this will be a problem.
[Reading] “Military advisers, technical military personnel, advisers on pacification”—I don’t know what that phrase means and we have to eliminate it.
Well, let me go through your categories of what we can accept: Military advisers is all right; technical military personnel is all right; advisers for paramilitary organizations is all right; police forces, that is all right; advisers on pacification we cannot accept; advisers on psychological warfare, I don’t think there are any. There aren’t any civilian advisers on psychological. We can’t write that. It gives the wrong impression in an agreement. We can accept military advisers, technical military personnel and paramilitary advisers.
Le Duc Tho: Regarding the advisers on pacification, we cannot accept your view. It is a military organization repressing the people.
Dr. Kissinger: I don’t know what you mean by pacification. Maybe we have different words for it. What we mean by pacification is economic development, rural development and so forth. What do you mean?
Le Duc Tho: In the Saigon army they organized what they call pacification units and advisers in pacification work.
Dr. Kissinger: But they don’t have American advisers. What we mean by pacification, Mr. Special Adviser …
Le Duc Tho: John Paul Vann was an adviser on pacification.
Dr. Kissinger: That is what we can’t accept. John Paul Vann was … what we understand by pacification is the economic development and civilian activities, together with some security activities like police work. Now we have already agreed that our advisers would withdraw from police work and from paramilitary organizations.
Le Duc Tho: You see the pacification work in South Vietnam is a major military organ of South Vietnam and they carry out major sweeping operations, sweeps with military forces, and in these military forces there are advisers.[Page 84]
Dr. Kissinger: We have already agreed that military advisory personnel shall be withdrawn.
Le Duc Tho: In the report by Mr. Lowenstein and Mr. Moose done in 1972 they mentioned about advisers on pacification work.6
Dr. Kissinger: Moose used to be on my staff! That may be, but most of the ones that you object to are covered in the categories which we have already agreed to. What we are trying to preserve are the civilians who are not working for … It is impossible. If we cannot have people who are working in paramilitary, police or in the army, it is impossible to engage in any military or paramilitary activity.
Le Duc Tho: And all the civilian personnel serving in military branches.
Dr. Kissinger: Yes, we can accept that.
Le Duc Tho: So we delete “the advisers for psychological warfare.”
Dr. Kissinger: And for pacification.
Le Duc Tho: But we have deleted the psychological warfare. There are remaining a great number of advisers for pacification.
Dr. Kissinger: I don’t give a damn about advisers for psychological warfare. The military advisers for pacification are going.
Le Duc Tho: So we still differ in connection with advisers on pacification.
Dr. Kissinger: That is correct.
Le Duc Tho: Lay it aside for the time being.
Dr. Kissinger: I want to make a general comment. You seem to be working from your text and I, of course, from our text. They are often the same, but your English is so bad that I would prefer to work with our text.
Le Duc Tho: We have your text.
Dr. Kissinger: What is your next problem?
Le Duc Tho: Article 6. Nothing for Article 6.
Article 7 regarding the replacement of armaments.
Dr. Kissinger: Wait a minute. On Article 6 I want to make a statement. I want to make clear that we are talking only about bases owned by the United States, not bases that are owned by the South Vietnamese armed forces.[Page 85]
Le Duc Tho: Article 7.
Dr. Kissinger: That is understood, so it won’t be disputed. All right, Article 7.
Le Duc Tho: We maintain our proposal saying that the two parties shall be permitted to make the replacement of armaments. I repeat the provision: “After the cessation of hostilities the two parties shall be permitted to make periodical replacement of armaments, munitions, war matériel, on the principle of equality between the two parties.”
Dr. Kissinger: That isn’t what you gave us yesterday. And secondly, we can’t accept it—it depends what you mean by it.
Le Duc Tho: We want to say that when the replacement of armaments is carried out then it should be the preservation of the principle of equality between the two parties.
Dr. Kissinger: So that if one artillery piece is replaced by one side, there must be an artillery piece added to the other side. Is that what you mean?
Le Duc Tho: Right.
Dr. Kissinger: Well that is impossible, and that is not what the 1954 Agreement said. We are prepared to accept the provisions of the 1954 Agreement and the same language.
Le Duc Tho: Another thing, we propose to delete the sentence “or into any base areas in Indochina supporting the war in Vietnam.” Previously there was not such a sentence. I have referred to this when …
Dr. Kissinger: On the basis of what the Special Adviser affirmed before on Laos and Cambodia, we are prepared to delete the sentence. But we cannot go beyond what we have written here.
Le Duc Tho: Regarding the replacement of armaments, I think that in 1954 it was different from what it is now. We propose that the principle should be of equality between the two parties until a decision by the definitive government of South Vietnam.
Dr. Kissinger: Yes, I understand this. I understand your position. But our position is that we have stretched our willingness to come to an agreement on this point to the absolute limit, and if we go beyond this we are making an excessive unilateral concession, which is that you are free to receive unlimited aid. They can receive new replacements in Saigon but if then the PRG has a veto over the replacement, it becomes an impossible agreement to put forward. So I must say we cannot go beyond what I have given you. This is as serious a problem for us as the Laotian and Cambodian problem is for you. I can assure you we will use our influence to exercise very great restraint with respect to this problem in accordance with what I have told you.
Le Duc Tho: I think that is fair to say that now there are two forces in South Vietnam and the replacements should be equal.[Page 86]
Dr. Kissinger: We are not saying what the replacement of the other side is. The replacement should be equal to that which is being replaced. The weapons wear out at a different rate.
Le Duc Tho: So let us put this one aside.
Now regarding the question of return of captured people. I have expressed to you all my views on that subject. We will not accept the word “innocent people, innocent civilians.” Because if we call them “innocent civilians” then those civilians automatically have no crime at all, so automatically they must be released and they shall be returned to the other side. Here we want to refer to the military and civilian personnel. If you don’t mention military and civilian personnel, then there would be tens of thousands of civilians captured for political reasons who will not be released. This we can’t accept.
Dr. Kissinger: We don’t say that they should be. We have split it into two categories in the interest of speed. We have one category of military personnel and innocent civilians, because on this agreement is rapidly possible. It is within our competence to agree to this.
The second category is other civilian personnel, and we think that this should be resolved by the South Vietnamese parties because there is no possibility in getting an agreement on the schedule we have set ourselves if the idea of the Special Adviser is included.
Le Duc Tho: This we can’t accept. So at the return of all captives of the parties, then after the end of the war all people who are listed could be released. It is also major problem for us. Our conscience cannot be cleared when the war is ended and tens of thousands of people captured during the war are still in jail.
Dr. Kissinger: I understand what the Special Adviser is saying and we would be prepared to give the Special Adviser an assurance that the United States will use its utmost influence to bring about the release of any civilians that are detained for political activities, in addition to the ones of Article 8(c). But I know that as a practical question there is no possibility of getting the agreement accepted in such a short time frame if we do not operate on this basis. We will use our maximum influence.
Le Duc Tho: I feel that it is a difficult question.
Dr. Kissinger: It is a very difficult question.
Le Duc Tho: For the time being I have not found any word to replace it to meet each other.
Dr. Kissinger: I haven’t either. I understand your problem, Mr. Special Adviser, and we will certainly use our influence and we think we can bring about some amnesty. But I know if we write it into the agreement now, it will not yield a good result, and it may even be dangerous to the people we want to protect. I am speaking very frankly to you.[Page 87]
Le Duc Tho: Now in this connection I speak with reference to American military men and civilians captured in Laos. Speaking of principles, we have no obligation to solve this question in Laos, but to show our good will I have offered a solution to solve this problem. But here there are people who have opposed Nguyen Van Thieu’s administration and who oppose Americans in South Vietnam too. After the war is ended it is your responsibility to have these people released.
Dr. Kissinger: They are unfortunately not in our control. We understand the principle, and we can certainly use our influence. And we will use our maximum influence, but it will take some time.
Le Duc Tho: Now if we accept your formulation here, it cannot be understood by the South Vietnamese population. Because after so many years of war, now they are still in jail. I have never seen any war in history that after the settlement of the war, the two sides still keep the people they captured from the other side. The two sides, if they want to materialize the national concord and national reconciliation, they cannot.
Dr. Kissinger: No, I do not say they should keep them. I say they should discuss it among themselves. We certainly think we can say that it should be resolved in a spirit of national reconciliation and concord and with a view towards ending the hatred. So that there are some very concrete criteria, and as I said, we would certainly use our influence strongly in that direction.
Le Duc Tho: We find it very difficult, because speaking of sentiment, speaking of influence among the population, if you keep this we don’t know how to solve it. It is illogical. If national reconciliation and national concord are to be implemented, how you can avoid the sentiment of tens of thousands of families in South Vietnam, now they have their relatives in South Vietnamese jails.
Dr. Kissinger: But the Special Adviser said to me more than once, on a number of very difficult issues, that it is hard to press him too much. And I interpreted this to mean that he could do something, but we should not press him formally to do so. Similarly, we are in the same kind of position. If we write it, it could cause an explosion in Saigon next week. We are here in a very comparable position. It is a very difficult problem for you and a very difficult problem for us. When we say we will use our maximum influence, that has a very concrete meaning. But we cannot bring it about next week. But we are certain we can bring about some releases—after the first impact of this document has settled down. This is the practical problem which we will face.
Le Duc Tho: I propose to lay aside this question here. I still disagree with your views, because your argument is not convincing yet.[Page 88]
Dr. Kissinger: Could we take a five minute break? Five minutes, very brief. Excuse me. Were you saying more about this, or were you going on? I am sorry. I thought you wanted to go on to the next chapter.
Le Duc Tho: Then let us finish this Article 8(b), the last sentence. You have “such other measures as may be required to verify those still considered missing in action.” We are going to “such other measures necessary to get information about people missing in action.”
Dr. Kissinger: I don’t know what the difference is. In English it makes no difference, except ours is better English.
Le Duc Tho: We mean “to get information about.”
Dr. Kissinger: We don’t mind saying “to obtain information,” “get” is a bad word. “To obtain.”
Le Duc Tho: Let us have a break now.
Dr. Kissinger: One point, you have in your (a) “military men captured in Vietnam.” We cannot say this. We have therefore our phrase for 8(a) which doesn’t mention the area.
Le Duc Tho: Where are they captured and detained then?
Dr. Kissinger: We said “of the parties.”
Le Duc Tho: So please have a break.
Dr. Kissinger: Thank you.
[The break lasted from 4:30–5:00 p.m.]
Dr. Kissinger: This is the fifth time that I have gone through this exercise. With your allies.
Le Duc Tho: On Vietnam?
Dr. Kissinger: No, not Vietnam, on other subjects. Strategic arms limitation.
Le Duc Tho: Is it really limited? [Laughter]
Dr. Kissinger: The numbers are limited; the quality is not.
Le Duc Tho: Let me now deal with Chapter IV. You can see in general this is the chapter where we have made the great concessions, so now there are still a few minor problems left and you should make concessions. Moreover, this question will have three months for the discussion of the two parties. In any case, we have the provisions recorded here. Let me go point by point.
Article 9(a), (b), (c), (d), (e). You have put “strive to achieve national reconciliation and concord.” We propose now … “strive to” does not show the effort made; therefore we propose that they “actively achieve national reconciliation and national concord.”
Dr. Kissinger: Did the Special Adviser want my answer now?
Le Duc Tho: Yes.
Dr. Kissinger: I recommend we take out “strive to” and just say “will achieve,” what you had to begin with.[Page 89]
Le Duc Tho: Now about the name. We propose that “an administrative structure be set up called the Supreme Council of National Reconciliation and Concord of South Vietnam.” Previously we proposed “an administration called.” Now “an administrative structure.” We have shown now the flexibility on this subject, so now we propose that this name of Supreme Council of National Reconciliation and National Concord. So you should give us a concession on that subject to show your good will and real desire to respond to our question of concern. As to the word “oversee,” we propose “to see to and to supervise” the two parties.
Dr. Kissinger: We are operating now from which document, yours or ours?
Le Duc Tho: Our document. Because in our Vietnamese language if we convey the idea, the concept of “oversee” into Vietnamese, then it would look like a grown-up person to look after the children. So it should be “see to and supervise the implementation of the agreement.”
In every place we put “national reconciliation and national concord” in every place.
And to “organize general elections,” we would add “general elections mentioned in Article 9(b).” We would like to say “general elections” and not elections only.
Dr. Kissinger: I will listen to everything that the Special Adviser has to say and then I will respond all at once.
Le Duc Tho: Once previously you have written “general elections,” now you delete the word “general”; you only mention “elections.” Previously you have agreed also to our mention of Article 9(b). We mention the general elections and the local elections because here in Saigon Administration they organize also local administrations, although not democratic elections.
We have put “laws and modalities on general elections.” You mention “procedures and modalities.” We accept this.
Dr. Kissinger: Thank you.
Le Duc Tho: In point (f) we propose that “the two South Vietnamese parties will hold consultations in a spirit of national reconciliation and national concord, equality, mutual respect and without mutual elimination, in order to set up the Supreme Council of National Reconciliation and Concord and to settle all other internal matters of South Vietnam.”
Dr. Kissinger: That is our point (f).
Interpreter: Formerly (i).
Dr. Kissinger: Formerly (j) is now (f). You accepted our transposition, which I am in favor of. I think that is a very good thing. I agree.[Page 90]
Le Duc Tho: But for the period for discussion, the three-month period, we still maintain in this paragraph that the South Vietnamese will sign an agreement on all internal matters of South Vietnam, the sooner the better and not later than three months after the ceasefire. You put this three months period in paragraph (g).
Dr. Kissinger: No, we accept that it goes in paragraph (a). That is no problem. All right, you have given me so many changes. Is this everything? It is every paragraph?
Le Duc Tho: All in this paragraph. I have finished. There are three points only. First, the name the “administrative structure” will be called. Secondly, we add “general” to “elections.” And third, “the formation of Councils of National Reconciliation and Concord at all levels will be settled after the Council of National Reconciliation and Concord assumes its functions.” Because if we put that the two South Vietnamese sign an agreement on all internal affairs of South Vietnam, the sooner the better, and after the three months of ceasefire, it means the two Vietnamese parties have discussed this question so there is no need to agree upon by the South Vietnamese. Moreover, all this chapter was further discussed by the two South Vietnamese parties before they sign the agreement. Here we agree between us two, but the two South Vietnamese will discuss and agree in three months time after the ceasefire.
Your point (i).
Dr. Kissinger: Our point (i). Let us settle the others first before we get to (i).
First of all, we are suffering from the fact that our languages are extremely different. So let me read what I have here for point (f), in order to avoid total confusion: Our present version is “The two South Vietnamese shall hold consultations in a spirit of national reconciliation and concord, mutual respect, and mutual non-elimination …” Now you want to add “to set up an administrative structure called the Supreme Council of National Reconciliation and Concord.” I am just talking about this sentence. Is that correct?
Le Duc Tho: Our point (g) that is to say your point (f). Your point (g) differs from our point (f).
Dr. Kissinger: We don’t even have a point (j). No, our point (g) is different. Our point (f) is different from your point (f). Our point (f) is your point (i). And we want to move that before your point (f), and you want that too.
Le Duc Tho: Agreed.
Dr. Kissinger: All right. Now I just want to read you the first sentence of that, if it is in our document.
Le Duc Tho: But in your version there is no sentence that “the South Vietnamese will sign an agreement on these and other internal matters.”[Page 91]
Dr. Kissinger: No, we will put that at the end of (f). I have agreed to it, so we move the last sentence of (g) to the end of (f).
Le Duc Tho: Agreed.
Dr. Kissinger: All right, now let us get to the substance of these sentences. Now at the first sentence you want to say “shall hold consultations in the spirit of national reconciliation and national concord, mutual respect, and mutual non-elimination to set up an administrative structure called the Supreme National Council of National Reconciliation and National Concord.”
Le Duc Tho: Right.
Dr. Kissinger: That is what you want. What I would propose is “to set up a structure called a National Council of National Reconciliation and Concord.”
Le Duc Tho: We would like to call it “administrative structure.”
Dr. Kissinger: Administrative structure.
Le Duc Tho: Called Supreme Council of Reconciliation and Concord.
Dr. Kissinger: “Supreme” we cannot accept.
Le Duc Tho: We delete the word “Supreme.”
Dr. Kissinger: We just say then “administrative structure called the National Council of National Reconciliation and Concord.”
Mr. Phuong: It is different between government and administrative structure. The name we accept—the National Council of National Reconciliation and Concord.
Dr. Kissinger: Let me think about the word “administrative.” I accept the word “structure,” to set up a structure. I will think about the word “administrative” for a bit. Now then we add a sentence saying “The Council will operate on the principle of unanimity.”
Le Duc Tho: Agreed. Then you should keep “administrative structure.” It is little meaning only but because the name is called National Council of National Reconciliation and Concord, it will not be called National Administration, no, it is “administrative structure.”
Dr. Kissinger: Let us see how the text of the paragraph will read when we are finished with it. I am disposed to try to find it possible. So we have “The Council shall operate on the principle of unanimity.” That is agreed.
Le Duc Tho: Agreed.
Dr. Kissinger: Now what is your next sentence?
Le Duc Tho: You put in your proposal “the two South Vietnamese parties will consult on the formation of subordinate bodies.” We propose that “the two South Vietnamese will set up councils of national reconciliation and concord at all levels after the [Page 92] National Council of National Reconciliation and Concord assumes its functions.” After the formation of the National Council of National Reconciliation and Concord, the councils at various levels will be formed. It is for logic; for the purpose of implementing national concord and reconciliation. Last time you already said that the central body can have its structure down to its provincial level. We propose to the village level, because in South Vietnam you have even at the level of village, the lowest, in a village there are many hamlets, and there are hamlets belonging to one side and hamlets belonging to the other side. Therefore, the national reconciliation cannot be implemented between the two sides without the local body. At this level then there is a conflict between the two sides.
Dr. Kissinger: That may or may not be true. My problem is what we should say in this document. We cannot ourselves say at what level these councils should operate; I think that the Vietnamese parties together with the Council can decide at what levels it should operate.
Le Duc Tho: We propose this now: “the formation of the Council of National Reconciliation and Concord at all levels will be carried out after the National Council of National Reconciliation and Concord assumes its functions agreed upon by the PRG and the Saigon Administration.” So there is no harm in recording this way.
Dr. Kissinger: Can you say it again?
Le Duc Tho: “The formation of the Councils of National Reconciliation and Concord at various levels will be carried out after the National Council of National Reconciliation and Concord assumes its function with the agreement of the two South Vietnamese parties.” So, in agreement by the two South Vietnamese parties, this way of formulation will have no harm because they will agree on it.
Dr. Kissinger: I would never suspect the Special Adviser of wanting to do harm with a formulation. [Laughter]
Le Duc Tho: So regarding the Vietnamese armed forces in South Vietnam …
Dr. Kissinger: No, I am not ready. We haven’t agreed on this paragraph yet. [The chef, Mr. Can, serves tea.] He is already practicing concord and reconciliation—international concord and reconciliation. [Laughter]
I propose the following sentence, which is as far as we can go: “After the National Council of Reconciliation and Concord has assumed its functions, the two South Vietnamese parties will consult about the formation of councils at lower levels.”
Also I think I can accept the word “Administrative” before “structure,” to show my good will.
Le Duc Tho: What about the general elections?[Page 93]
Dr. Kissinger: Have we agreed then on this sentence? I will agree to the “general elections” too. I want to make one concession every five minutes. I want to go through sentence by sentence and I want to make sure Mr. Lord has the document we all agree on.
Le Duc Tho: I agree with your proposal, “After the formation of the National Council of National Reconciliation and Concord the two South Vietnamese parties will consult on the formation of councils at lower levels.”
Dr. Kissinger: Yes, the South Vietnamese parties. The two South Vietnamese parties.
Le Duc Tho: The two South Vietnamese parties. Yes. I agree to your acceptance as to the “administrative structure.”
Dr. Kissinger: You have just disproved a theory of mine. I have had the theory for 19 of our 20 meetings that if I ever accepted a proposal of the Special Adviser’s, he would reject my acceptance, because he would think there was something wrong with his proposal. [Laughter] But I was wrong, Mr. Special Adviser.
Now we have the general elections in the next paragraph. So I will wait until we come to it. I will certainly agree to mentioning 9(b). But let us say I want to make sure we have this paragraph correct. What do you then have as the next sentence? How do you conclude this paragraph?
Le Duc Tho: “The two South Vietnamese parties shall sign an agreement on the internal matters of South Vietnam as soon as possible and not later than three months after the enforcement of ceasefire.”
Dr. Kissinger: It is fine to move the sentence there. So we agreed with moving the sentence here. We, however, have a slightly different formulation, and the difference is “do their utmost to accomplish this within three months after the ceasefire comes into effect.”
Le Duc Tho: I agree.
Dr. Kissinger: All right. Fine. Let me read the whole paragraph because I want to make absolutely sure we are agreed: “Immediately after the ceasefire, the two South Vietnamese parties shall hold consultation in a spirit of national reconciliation and concord, mutual respect and mutual non-elimination to set up an administrative structure called a National Council of National Reconciliation and Concord of three equal segments. The Council shall operate on the principle of unanimity. After the National Council of Reconciliation and Concord has assumed its functions, the two South Vietnamese parties will consult about the formation of councils at lower levels. The South Vietnamese parties shall sign an agreement on this and other internal matters of South Vietnam as soon as possible and do their utmost to accomplish this within three months after the ceasefire comes into effect.”[Page 94]
Le Duc Tho: We still need in the sentence “in the spirit of national reconciliation and concord and equality and mutual respect.”
Dr. Kissinger: Well, I think that “non-elimination” really implies equality.
Le Duc Tho: Previously you have mentioned about equality between the segments, so we should put it here. Equality in the armed forces of South Vietnam.
Dr. Kissinger: I must tell you candidly. Our problem is that I do not believe we can convince Saigon to put in this word. We are already having unbelievable difficulty about three equal segments. In fact, I am sure they will reject this too, but we will have to use some very strong arguments.
Le Duc Tho: For the South Vietnamese armed forces I have agreed to “equal and mutual respect.”
Dr. Kissinger: I tell you quite honestly I have done this without any authority. I can perhaps sell it there in the context of armed forces, but if I put it in here it will be impossible. I have no authority to do this. I have done this on my own responsibility.
The fact that I have agreed to national councils will be a very shocking thing for Saigon. If on top of it in the same sentence I agree to “equal” and since they cling to words the same way their neighbors do in the North, I tell you candidly, it is better to save “equality” for the next paragraph.
Le Duc Tho: So I agree to delete the word “equality” here. But “the two South Vietnamese parties” shall sign an agreement, and not “the parties.”
Dr. Kissinger: The two South Vietnamese parties. He’s absolutely right.
Le Duc Tho: Point (h).
Dr. Kissinger: The Special Adviser is getting very impatient. Can we finish (g) next? (g) that is your old (f). I propose instead of “oversee” we say “shall promote.”
[Mr. Phuong reads meaning of “promote” from dictionary to Le Duc Tho.]
Le Duc Tho: I propose “to promote and to supervise.”
Dr. Kissinger: No, it is the word “supervise” that I am trying to avoid, because in English that is a bad word. “Encourage.”
Le Duc Tho: I agree “to promote,” “to promote the two parties.”
Dr. Kissinger: “And ensuring of democratic liberties.” Then the Council will organize—what would you like to say? “General elections”? or you want to say “free and democratic elections as provided by Article 9(b)”?[Page 95]
Le Duc Tho: Right. “General elections” as mentioned in 9(b).
Dr. Kissinger: Yes, but 9(b) doesn’t mention “general elections.” It mentions “free and democratic.” Oh, you have “general.” We don’t.
Le Duc Tho: We should put “general elections” and you have agreed to 9(b) too.
Dr. Kissinger: Yes, but we have a different version. We have “free and democratic.” We do not have “general elections.”
Le Duc Tho: I propose to add the word “free and democratic general elections.” General means nationwide. It is different from local elections, general elections or South Vietnam elections. We understand this way. When you call general election, it is election to elect a national assembly or in your country, the election of the President there is general election, but the election organized in a locality we call elections or local elections.
Dr. Kissinger: Well, we will accept “free and democratic general elections” with the understanding that “general” doesn’t determine the office but the area it covers. In other words it is a national election, maybe for the President, maybe for the assembly, to be determined later.
Le Duc Tho: Right. We do not mention to elect what body or whom. We mention here general elections.
Dr. Kissinger: So I accept general in the sense of nationwide, for an office not specified.
Le Duc Tho: Agreed. And about local elections.
Dr. Kissinger: Well, now let me finish first. “The Council will organize free and democratic general elections and decide the procedures and modalities of these elections.” And “will organize the free and general elections provided for in Article 9(b).” In that case I would like to make one change in 9(b). Instead of saying “the political system” which in English has a very heavy sound, I would like to say “shall decide themselves the political future of South Vietnam.” It is less—well, you don’t mind doctrine but in English it has a very heavy sound. There is no other way.
(Repeats again the whole sentence.) “The South Vietnamese people shall themselves decide the political future of South Vietnam,” and I will then agree to put in the word “general.”
Le Duc Tho: “Political system” is more accurate, and “political future” is very vague.
Dr. Kissinger: But it includes the possibility of a system. I should have paid attention to it earlier.
Le Duc Tho: Usually when there are general elections then they will not elect a future, but they elect a body.[Page 96]
Dr. Kissinger: I think “future” includes “system.”
Le Duc Tho: But in our language if we say “general elections,” then it will lead to a political system and not lead to a political future.
Dr. Kissinger: Why is that? Now maybe you give a meaning to “general elections” that I do not give. “General election” means only that it is a nationwide election. It can be for President; it can be for an assembly; it can be a referendum between the two parties; it can be either one of those three or anything else the two parties can think of. It can lead to a change of system; it can lead to a confirmation of the system; it can lead to an adaptation of the system.
Le Duc Tho: I agree to “future.” Many concessions.
Dr. Kissinger: Anytime that the Minister gives advice I know I have just made a mistake and will regret it. I haven’t told Ambassador Porter yet that you won’t be there tomorrow. I don’t want to upset him all day.
All right. “And the procedures and modalities of these elections.”
Le Duc Tho: What about the local elections? Even under the Thieu regime they have local elections.
Dr. Kissinger: Let me try something for a minute. [Confers with staff] Let me try this sentence, Mr. Special Adviser. You see we operate here by consultation and on the principle of unanimity, but if there are difficulties we settle them by democratic centralism!
Le Duc Tho: You use very much the words “consultation and unanimity,” so when in diplomatic negotiations you frequently use the words “consultation and unanimity.”
Dr. Kissinger: “The National Council will also decide the procedures and modalities of such local elections as the two South Vietnamese parties may agree upon.”
Le Duc Tho: We agree.
Dr. Kissinger: All right, I accept the Special Adviser’s acceptance of my proposal. [Laughter] All right. Our (h), your (g).
Le Duc Tho: (h) “The two South Vietnamese parties will agree on the question of reducing their respective effectives, or military effectives, and demobilize the number of the troops reduced from these effectives.” [Reads again] And demobilize the troops, the reduced troops. “The two South Vietnamese parties will agree on the question of the reduction of their respective military strength and on the demobilization of the reduced troops.”
Dr. Kissinger: Let me … I told the Special Adviser that in the Soviet Union I would always turn my papers over because I was told there was a camera in the ceiling.
Le Duc Tho: [Pointing upward] We have many cameras overhead.[Page 97]
Dr. Kissinger: I have noticed that whenever I say something the Special Adviser doesn’t like, one of these lights blink.
Let me ask the Special Adviser whether my understanding of some of his earlier remarks was correct. I understand that the Special Adviser offered this sentence yesterday in order to solve the problem of various types of forces in the South and to permit a possibility of reductions being made on the principle of equality.
Le Duc Tho: We raised this question about how the Vietnamese armed forces in South Vietnam. They will reduce their effectives and they will demobilize those reduced troops in agreement by the South Vietnamese parties; and how to carry out this principle they will discuss later.
Dr. Kissinger: Let me propose this sentence: “Among the questions to be discussed by the two South Vietnamese parties are steps to reduce the military numbers on both sides and to demobilize the troops being reduced.”
Le Duc Tho: All right.
Dr. Kissinger: Good.
Le Duc Tho: We have completed this article.
Dr. Kissinger: And “with a view to lessening the contributions of the people” is not really necessary since we are talking about reductions in the next sentence. I propose to end with: “In accordance with the postwar situation,” and then add the sentence.
Le Duc Tho: All right.
Dr. Kissinger: Could we take just a very brief break. I want to consult with my colleagues to see where we stand now.
Le Duc Tho: Consultation and unanimity and democratic centralism. [Laughter]
Dr. Kissinger: Did you invite me to speak at the Leninist Institute in Hanoi?
[There was a brief break from 6:35–6:47 p.m.]
[Omitted here is discussion of prisoners held by South Vietnam; the Government of Vietnam not joining a political alliance; the relationships among the Two Party Commission, the Four Party Commission, and the International Commission of Control and Supervision; the status of the negotiations and a meeting of experts to draft texts of the agreement in English and Vietnamese; and Kissinger’s travel schedule after agreement was reached. Also omitted is additional brief discussion of the question of Laos and Cambodia, Kissinger and Le Duc Tho’s authority to make decisions, and economic assistance.]
Dr. Kissinger: All right, let us discuss another chapter.
Le Duc Tho: Regarding Chapter VIII, we have no big change to make, no comment, but we would like to change only one word. “The [Page 98] Government of the United States of America accepts to contribute to the program of postwar reconstruction and economic development and of healing the war wounds through the Democratic Republic of Vietnam and throughout Indochina.” [Tho hands Dr. Kissinger the statement]7 Do you agree to Chapter VIII? Because this is with the Democratic Republic of Vietnam and the United States, therefore I put the Democratic Republic of Vietnam first.
Dr. Kissinger: One problem we have, Mr. Special Adviser, is that you always seem to work from your text and we always have a different text and I am very worried what will happen tomorrow if our experts get together.
Le Duc Tho: We reverse the order of the names. Because of the chapter dealing with this relationship between the Democratic Republic of Vietnam and the United States of America, therefore I would like to put “the Democratic Republic of Vietnam and throughout Indochina.”
Dr. Kissinger: That I understand, but instead you read your whole article to me so I am sure we are talking about the whole thing.
Le Duc Tho: “The U.S. expects this agreement will usher in an era of reconciliation with the Democratic Republic of Vietnam and with all the peoples of Indochina. In pursuance of its traditional policy, the United States will agree to contribute to healing the wounds of war …”
Dr. Kissinger: And you want to add what, “and to postwar reconstruction”?
Mr. Phuong: Yes.
Dr. Kissinger: Read the whole thing to me. The second sentence. The first is all right. Is it the Special Adviser’s proposal? I just want him to read what you propose.
Interpreter: “It is the traditional policy of the United States that the United States will contribute to healing the wounds of war and to postwar reconstruction of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam and throughout Indochina.” This order.
Dr. Kissinger: I accept it.
Le Duc Tho: Now there are a number of problems left. Now I realize that there are four or five problems left. The biggest problem is the return of captured people. I shall address this problem last.
Dr. Kissinger: And we still have the Laos and Cambodia problem to discuss briefly.
Le Duc Tho: We have nothing to discuss about Laos and Cambodia. I have given you my view.[Page 99]
Dr. Kissinger: We can do one of two things. We can either try to do the other points or we can take a break for ten minutes and let me consult with my colleagues to make sure I understand all the implications correctly, and I can give you an answer immediately. What do you prefer?
Le Duc Tho: Let us discuss other questions. We will discuss this question later. There are still four military questions left. Regarding then Article 3, the paragraph on “All hostile acts, terrorism, reprisals by both sides and encroachment on the lives and property of the people shall be prohibited.” We accept now deletion of the phrase “to end all encroachment on the lives and property of the people.” We accept it. You have requested the deletion.
Dr. Kissinger: Yes, I agree. I appreciate the spirit.
Le Duc Tho: Another point, we put forward this amendment.
Article 3, the paragraph, the preceding paragraph on “all combat and reconnaissance activities on the ground, in the air and on the sea.” Now we propose “all military activities on the ground, in the air and on the sea shall be prohibited.” So now we delete the word “combat and reconnaissance.” We replace them by “military activities.”
Dr. Kissinger: As long as you understand that as long as we are in South Vietnam we will engage in flying over South Vietnam. Does that mean that ships cannot go to sea and airplanes can’t fly?
Le Duc Tho: On the previous paragraph you have accepted this morning to stop all military activities on the ground, in the air and on the sea.
Dr. Kissinger: I will have tremendous difficulty with even that when I get back to Washington, I assure you, because it means we cannot fly over North Vietnam. But that is quite different because that is something we can do. That we will do. But in this paragraph it means we can’t fly over South Vietnam or have ships go that way across to port in South Vietnam; that means no one can fly a plane over South Vietnam and no ships can move in the seas of South Vietnam. If you want to say “combat actions.” It is quite different with the Democratic Republic of Vietnam because the territory is geographically separable.
Le Duc Tho: Moreover the war is ended and you have no right to fly over our airspace in the Democratic Republic of Vietnam.
Dr. Kissinger: That is right and that is why I accept it. I accept it with regard to the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. I don’t change the view with respect to the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. I maintain the previous paragraph. I don’t withdraw this.
Le Duc Tho: Now we can drop the question. Either you can put “all combat activities on the ground, in the air and on the sea are prohibited” [Page 100] or “all acts of force on the ground, in the air and on the sea is prohibited.”
Dr. Kissinger: Thank you.
Le Duc Tho: Now, regarding the advisers on pacification. We insist on putting this word because actually there are advisers on pacification.
Dr. Kissinger: Yes, but we are willing to define the pacification to which you object, if we agree with it. To us “pacification” has a different meaning than it does to you. We are, therefore, willing to specify “advisers to paramilitary organizations, police forces” and so forth, but we are not prepared to lump all pacification advisers, which to us has an economic function, in our technical language.
Le Duc Tho: What you call economic advisers are actually military advisers. I didn’t mention about the economic advisers.
Dr. Kissinger: Yes, but if you say advisers on pacification that, to us, is an economic word. I know to you it means something else. This is why I was prepared to specify paramilitary organizations, police, and if you want, psychological warfare, but pacification advisers are part of our economic program.
Le Duc Tho: But so far as we know in pacification operations there were American military advisers going with them.
Dr. Kissinger: That is probably true, but all military advisers regardless of their work will be withdrawn.
Le Duc Tho: So I call it military advisers for pacification.
Dr. Kissinger: Well, it is redundant because all military advisers will be withdrawn for everything.
Le Duc Tho: If we say as you say, then there would be no need to mention advisers for paramilitary.
Dr. Kissinger: No, because we are prepared to withdraw even civilian advisers to paramilitary organizations and to the police.
Le Duc Tho: So I leave now aside the economic advisers. I don’t mention about them, but here, since actually you have military advisers or advisers on military pacification. In this agreement I have tried my best to choose every word to make easy for you.
Dr. Kissinger: Read to me exactly what your sentence says.
Mr. Phuong: “From the time of the signing of this agreement, shall completely withdraw from South Vietnam.”
Dr. Kissinger: Oh, we are back to your text. You see the trouble is your English is so bad that we are always rewriting it, thus I have not and we will not have an accurate text.
Mr. Phuong: Reading: “From the date of the signing of this agreement shall be completely withdrawn from South Vietnam all troops, all [Page 101] military personnel of the United States and those of the other foreign countries allied to the United States and to the Republic of Vietnam including military advisers, technical military personnel, advisers for paramilitary organizations,” we add “advisers for pacification work and advisers for the police and all other civilian personnel serving in all military branches, all armaments, munitions, war matériel and radar installation. This withdrawal shall be complete within 60 days.”
Dr. Kissinger: I will accept mentioning pacification, but let me put it into an English that can be understood by Americans. We will then read it to you and see if it sounds the same in Vietnamese. It is no reflection on your excellent interpreter, because he is translating it word for word correctly, and I want to formulate sentences which are more in the English grammar. He is really an outstanding interpreter.
Mr. Phuong: But not as good in English.
Dr. Kissinger: But your Vietnamese is much better than mine! It is a grammatical question, not a substantive question. We have a lot of substantive questions but this is grammatical. Let me read you this sentence: “The total withdrawal from South Vietnam of troops, military advisers and military personnel including technical military personnel and paramilitary advisers associated with pacification programs, armaments and matériel …”
Le Duc Tho: You agree also to “civilian personnel serving in military branches of the Government of the Republic of Vietnam”?
Dr. Kissinger: Whom are you thinking of here?
Le Duc Tho: That is logistic and so on. Civilian personnel serving in military branches. This morning you have agreed to that.
Dr. Kissinger: And serving in the military branches of whom? Of the Republic of Vietnam?
Le Duc Tho: American civilian personnel serving in military branches.
Dr. Kissinger: Of who?
Le Duc Tho: Of South Vietnam and of the United States. You have agreed to this this morning.
Dr. Kissinger: Not that I remember.
Le Duc Tho: So you have put it “from the date of the signing of the agreement” long after the beginning of the sentence of the paragraph; “from the date of the signing of the agreement” at the beginning of the paragraph.
Dr. Kissinger: I see what you mean. We will put “within 60 days” early in the sentence. We can say “within 60 days of the signing of this agreement the United States and those foreign countries allied to the United States shall totally withdraw from South Vietnam.” And then list all the categories.[Page 102]
Le Duc Tho: Civilian personnel serving in military branches of the Republic of Vietnam. You have no mention of it.
Dr. Kissinger: We just don’t know to whom you refer. I don’t think there are any civilians serving in the military branches of South Vietnam.
Le Duc Tho: This morning you agreed to this sentence.
Dr. Kissinger: No, I didn’t agree to it. I may have asked you what it meant. You know you read something and I just asked what it meant.
Le Duc Tho: I shall give you a more specific indication.
Dr. Kissinger: I just have no knowledge of any American civilians serving with the military branches of South Vietnam. And this gives a very misleading impression to our people.
Le Duc Tho: I shall tell you about this later, but just like you said that there are no American advisers in pacification work.
Dr. Kissinger: No, I said there were advisers in pacification work but I said it has a different meaning, but once I understood what you meant I agreed to a proper terminology for it. It is senseless when we totally withdraw to try to hide a few people in South Vietnam. This will hardly determine the future. But on the other hand, if we make an undertaking we want to know how to keep it. All the other materials I understand and we will withdraw them.
Le Duc Tho: I shall list them. Now regarding the time period for the troop withdrawal, the 60-day period. You said that after 60 days there might be a few remaining …
Dr. Kissinger: It won’t happen.
Le Duc Tho: I would ask for clarification on that point.
Dr. Kissinger: What I said was—you were willing to agree on 66 days.
Le Duc Tho: But if you want six days more, I am not so …
Dr. Kissinger: No, I think it’s ridiculous, but it could happen that for some technical reason, some very small unit has at the last minute to stay two or three days longer. I do not see it, but it might be just a minimal unit that would have to stay three or four days. And actually in the United States case I do not believe it will be a problem. I know it will not be a problem. And if it should be, I am certain it will be handled with mutual understanding. In the Korean case, fine. We will have to look into the shipping situation. We are almost certain it can be handled, but we can let you know within a week or two and again it will not be a big matter.
Le Duc Tho: I find it difficult to understand. You give us a specific undertaking here that all United States and other foreign troops shall be withdrawn within 60 days but now you mention about Korean [Page 103] troops and you mention shipping and say “I give you answer in a few weeks’ time.”
Dr. Kissinger: Mr. Special Adviser, do you really think, after such a big undertaking, that we would sign an agreement with you and then want to play games with you to keep a few there for a few days more? Does it make any sense that we would stop all military activities? I want to be honest. I think it is 98 percent certain that we can get all our forces out. Only in order to be absolutely honest with you, I wanted to leave a little margin for technical error. It would not be more than ten days; I don’t think it will arise at all. I just wanted to tell you in a spirit of frankness that when you move 50,000 people in two months, there may be some logistic difficulties.
Le Duc Tho: When you sent the troops in, in 60 days you could send a much bigger number of troops in. But please now give us a very specific number of days. Like 65 days for instance, if you propose it, we could agree.
Dr. Kissinger: I think it is ridiculous. If we say 60 days, it will be done in 60 days.
Le Duc Tho: You said that it is 98% sure that they would be out, but there might be 2,000 more, but I say let your proposal be 65 days.
Dr. Kissinger: No, it won’t make any difference. I wanted to make a generous gesture and say 60 days, and then tell you if we came across an unexpected difficulty—which I don’t expect—I wanted to tell you in a spirit of frankness. I shouldn’t have even mentioned it.
Mr. Special Adviser, let us leave this subject. When I come to Hanoi I will have looked into the question in Washington. If it should turn out that we need 62 and one-half days or 65 days, I will tell you then. It was your proposal. I was trying to leave a tiny margin for a gentleman’s agreement; I can see we are not at that level yet. If it should turn out that we need 65 days I will tell you when I come to Hanoi and we can change it then.
Le Duc Tho: I shall let you correct the agreement in Hanoi.
Dr. Kissinger: You will see I will not change it and you will also see that I have every interest to make sure that an agreement we both sign is one I can keep, and you will have every reason to feel was a just agreement for you too.
Le Duc Tho: Now let us tackle another point. The question of replacement of arms. This point still contains difficulty between us. Let us propose the following to settle this question: “After the cessation of hostilities, the replacement of armaments will be agreed upon by the two parties. Particularly or especially with regard to weapons for inventory, the two parties will be permitted to replace them on the basis of one piece-to-piece.” So I have taken into account your view.[Page 104]
Dr. Kissinger: No, but it is dependent now on agreement.
Le Duc Tho: But for the armaments of the inventory the parties shall be permitted to replace them on the basis of piece-to-piece. It is to limit the dangers of starting war.
Dr. Kissinger: Can you read that to me again?
Interpreter: “After the cessation of hostilities, the replacement of all kinds of armaments, of weapons will be agreed upon by the two parties. Especially regarding the armaments for the inventory, the two parties shall be permitted to replace them on the basis of piece-to-piece.”
Dr. Kissinger: I cannot go much beyond what I have given you. Because we already confront a situation where we will be charged with having no restrictions on the imports of weapons into North Vietnam, no control except your statements on the influx of weapons into Cambodia and Laos, and then on top of it we cut off even replacement of weapons to South Vietnam. It will become an impossible assignment.
The only change that I can make to what I have given you is to add the phrase “and of similar characteristics,” so that you will be sure there will be no upgrading.
Le Duc Tho: Please explain “of the same characteristics.” What do you mean by that?
Dr. Kissinger: That means you can’t replace a rifle with an artillery piece. I mean you can replace a rifle with a rifle.
Le Duc Tho: On this question we are still far apart. On the military questions this is one outstanding question, because you will be able to introduce into South Vietnam any amount of weapons.
Dr. Kissinger: Only by getting rid of other weapons. For every weapon that is introduced, a weapon has to be thrown out. There can be no reinforcements.
Le Duc Tho: So we have not come to agreement on that point. Set it aside then. There is another question, the greatest outstanding question, of the prisoners. I have misunderstood Mr. Special Adviser. I thought that you would add a sentence about the release of civilians captured in South Vietnam, and I did not know that you mentioned here that the release will be carried out on agreement by the parties.
Dr. Kissinger: What did the Special Adviser think I would say?
Le Duc Tho: I thought that you would put that after the cessation of the war, then captured and detained people of all parties shall be released. And the title of the chapter is written “The Return of Prisoners of War and the Return of Captured and Detained People of the Parties.”
Dr. Kissinger: Ours is written differently. That is what we have to decide. But I understand your point.[Page 105]
Le Duc Tho: So we are still far apart in this problem and it is one of our major difficulties.
Dr. Kissinger: It is a point I understand. I have no solution. No solution has occurred to me but I recognize it as a severe problem.
Le Duc Tho: Imagine, Mr. Special Adviser, that the war has lasted so long, that the Saigon Administration has captured tens of thousands of civilians and now the war is ended and those people are not released. It is a very big problem. We have signed agreements twice in 1954 and 1962; we have never met such an obstacle as you raise this time. It is a problem that it is difficult to come to an agreement on that question. We would like to find some formulation, some way of writing this provision.
Dr. Kissinger: So would we.
Le Duc Tho: You see, in the whole agreement there are many points which are difficult, but we have found the way to get out. We can say that for this agreement since we began working this morning, we have agreed on almost all.
Dr. Kissinger: I agree.
Le Duc Tho: Now it’s the biggest question remaining. So if we can’t settle this question now, I propose the following: When you go to Saigon you have full authority to settle this problem. You say that you will have difficulty in Saigon, but I believe it is not true. [Laughter on U.S. side.] This question implies many aspects: political aspects, human conscience. But if we can’t settle this question now, then lay it aside.
Dr. Kissinger: Let me say, Mr. Special Adviser, I think you have exaggerated ideas of the degree of my authority. I will have enormous difficulty in Washington already, with the agreement as it stands. For many reasons, which I will some time explain to you when it isn’t so late and I can explain to you the operation of the governmental machinery, everybody who was excluded from the negotiations now has a vested interest in demonstrating that I betrayed the country. They have not had the privilege of working with you, but they think that you are easier to persuade than you are. But this is my problem; I will handle it.
Le Duc Tho: I think if now you succeed in settling the Vietnam war, and if there were an American who called you a traitor, then this American is unworthy to be an American.
Dr. Kissinger: Well, we will see. It is my problem and I will handle it. But above all, and whatever the situation in Washington, we will have an unbelievably difficult time in Saigon next week. We should not underestimate this, and it is in all our interests that we do not repeat the experience of 1968. And from a political point of view it is very risky for us to have a confrontation at this moment. But I think the Special Adviser’s proposal is reasonable. I shall make a big effort in Saigon. I shall [Page 106] report frankly to you what I think is possible, and then we shall see whether we want to proceed. But I understand your problem.
While we are talking about this, incidentally, may I say that when the Special Adviser leaves here there is already … I have been away from Washington so long with so little information, and I have never been away from Washington at the same time that my Deputy was away, so if the Special Adviser leaves for Hanoi as he said he might, tomorrow, there will be even more speculation. We must avoid two opposite dangers. The one danger is that the impression is created that we have already concluded an agreement. Because we want to arrive in Saigon without prior notification of this agreement, so it is very important that we keep the secrecy and that no comments be made to anybody, and that if you inform your allies they understand the need for secrecy.
The other danger is to leave the impression that our negotiations have totally failed. And perhaps if the Special Adviser would permit me to make a suggestion to him on his very skillful handling of the press. If when he leaves he could indicate that he expects to return here soon to resume negotiations, it would be helpful.
Now we have still … I don’t know what the Special Adviser recommends on how we should proceed.
Le Duc Tho: Let me make the following proposal. I only see we have a very long distance between you and me. If we review all the problems we have raised, there are two problems left now; the question of replacement of arms and the question of prisoners.
Dr. Kissinger: No, three. I have to say something yet on Laos and Cambodia, and we have some technical questions on the control chapter. Should I raise those now?
Le Duc Tho: Please.
Dr. Kissinger: They are not issues of enormous principle.
Le Duc Tho: Then we let that to the experts.
Dr. Kissinger: But I can make very concrete suggestions and they are not too difficult for you.
First, I am not sure I understood you, Mr. Special Adviser. At one point you said that the four-party Joint Commission should end its activities at a certain point. Where do you want to write that into the agreement?
Le Duc Tho: I shall take note of your question and I shall answer you later. It is not a difficult question.
Dr. Kissinger: May I suggest the following: First of all, did I understand you correctly? If we could agree on the following in Article 13(b) for example: “Until the international guarantee conference can make definitive arrangements, the International Commission of Control and [Page 107] Supervision”—instead of saying “shall be responsible,” say “will report to the four parties.” This would make a very great difference in our presentation. It is really the only issue of principle I have to raise. That, of course, would come also in 13(c), the same sentence with respect to the two parties.
Le Duc Tho: Previously you have proposed the words “to be responsible to.” Now you change it.
Dr. Kissinger: Yes, I tell you what the problem is. On every other section of the agreement I will be able to override the critics because I will be recognized as having some competence. But in this section it will be ridiculous to say that the International Commission will be responsible to the people whom it is supervising. Therefore, I would like the international conference to decide to whom it is responsible. I have no doubt that you will defend your position and with your usual tenacity. One of my colleagues can have the pleasure of debating these constitutional problems with the Minister. This is a neutral formulation which commits neither side. You will defend your position. You will certainly be supported by some of your allies at this Conference and you will not be in an isolated position. Until then they will make their reports to the parties. In practice, as the Minister knows, “to be responsible to” means making a report to somebody. That is what the Lao Commission does and what the ICC Commission does.
Le Duc Tho: I agree that the Commission shall report to the parties. You see I can agree very quickly!
Dr. Kissinger: When it makes no difference! You will make my reputation in Washington.
Le Duc Tho: But all of my requirements are big requirements, but you have also.
[Omitted here is further discussion of the International Commission on Control and Supervision, prisoners held by South Vietnam, and Laos and Cambodia.]
[Le Duc Tho:] Now there are only two questions left, the question of captured people and the question of replacement of armaments. We have done our best with you to achieve agreement. Now I think that we should deal with other chapters completely. As to these two questions: On replacement of weapons, we have agreed in principle but as to the formulation we differ. But the most difficult question is the question of captured and detained people. Now let us achieve agreement by our experts. So according to you, you will return to Washington and you will come back to Paris, so you will think over and I will do the same and we shall both achieve the agreement.
Dr. Kissinger: We shall both meet. I shall meet the Special Advisor again?[Page 108]
Le Duc Tho: As to your new schedule we shall have to exchange views with our leaders in Hanoi. I shall give you an answer later.
Dr. Kissinger: Yes, but I didn’t give you a new schedule yet.
Le Duc Tho: Let us now discuss the schedule then if you have one.
Dr. Kissinger: Well, it depends. I could come here again and meet either with you or with the Minister and make one final check of the agreement, to make sure we understand each other. I could do that on Monday.8 I need at least three days in Washington, because I must make preparations on the economic question, I must get the legal questions looked at…
Now I have two alternative approaches. If I do not come back here, then I will leave Washington Monday morning and arrive in Saigon the evening of the 17th. Then I must take three days in Saigon, spend there the 18th, 19th and 20th, then I would go to Hanoi the morning of the 21st and leave the morning of the 23rd. We would announce the agreement the morning of the 26th, your time. And we would sign it either the 29th or 30th depending on schedules. Maybe the 30th, because the 29th is a Sunday and we don’t want to deprive your Minister of attendance at church. [Thuy laughs.] So let us say the 30th would be the signature. The announcement would be on the 26th.
This is if we could settle everything tonight. What I intend to do on the prisoners is to see whether I can persuade Saigon to make a gesture when the agreement is announced and to give your leaders then assurance that we will continue to use our influence. This is the way my mind is thinking now. This is one possibility.
The other possibility is that we meet here on the 16th or 17th—the 17th. I cannot really leave Washington before the 16th. Then I would go from here to Saigon. That would get me to Saigon the evening of the 18th, then I would be in Saigon the 19th, 20th and 21st. In Hanoi the 22nd and 23rd. I would return to America on the 24th. The announcement would then be the morning of the 27th, your time. Everything is one day later that way. Announcement would be the morning of the 27th, your time and the signing could still be on the 30th or 31st.
So we can do it either way. It might be a little better if we could meet here on the 17th, Tuesday, next Tuesday. Those are the two possibilities. It is a little better, I think, if we meet again. Or if the Special Adviser wants to return to Hanoi, it would be a pleasure to meet with the Minister, but he never yields anything. [laughter] It is just that if there are last minute difficulties and if there is any problem tomorrow between the experts, or if our bureaucracy have any suggestions—not of a principle nature, but of words—we might perhaps get it done here.[Page 109]
My colleagues wondered whether you are going to make Cora Weiss come to get me!
Le Duc Tho: Have you finished?
Dr. Kissinger: Yes.
Le Duc Tho: We have both made an effort to achieve the settlement in the main questions. But there are two questions left, particularly the question of captured people. It is a big question as you have realized. So imagine that when the agreement is signed it is announced that 60 days after the signing all captured people will be released, including American servicemen captured during the war. Think that when all captured people including Americans captured during the war are released, tens of thousands of our people are still in jail. It is a real difficulty for us, politically speaking and sentimentally speaking. The war has lasted decades and so the people have been in jail for 10 years or more, and they are looking for peace to be released. But now peace is restored and they are still in jail, and all parties will announce that within 60 days of the signing of the agreement then all foreign troops will be withdrawn, all captured people will be released.
We are prepared to abide by this time schedule and to respect what we have signed. But in that time innumerable people of ours are still in jail. It is something utterly unfair. It is a real fact. Please pay great attention to this question. We wanted to settle all the problems I have raised to you. There are many which are very difficult but we have settled them. We have made effort. Tonight I have made every possible effort to settle the problems. But there is one problem—sentiment. I have not solved it. This is a fact.
Dr. Kissinger: I understand.
Le Duc Tho: But I believe that you will make an effort on this.
Dr. Kissinger: I will make a major effort.
Le Duc Tho: We shall make our effort too. We want to receive you in Hanoi to settle the problem, and no doubt we will settle the problem. Now there are a few problems left. I think that it is good if you return on the 17th, the sooner the better.
Dr. Kissinger: I will make a decision when I come to Washington how quickly I can return. I can definitely promise the 17th. But I think the best way to get an answer on the prisoners, quite honestly, is in Saigon, and if I raise the issue by telegram it will make the presentation of the agreement much more difficult since I will not be able to explain the circumstances of the agreement. So I will not be able to give you a definitive answer on the 17th, but I will make inquiries and we will have a better estimate.
Le Duc Tho: So if you have arranged to return here on the 17th, it is all right.[Page 110]
Dr. Kissinger: Will you be here, or whom shall I meet?
Le Duc Tho: Let me explain. According to the schedule you have presented here, I will return to Hanoi in a few days to arrange your trip to Hanoi. In the meantime you will meet Minister Xuan Thuy to settle the outstanding questions and to arrange the text.
Dr. Kissinger: Right.
Le Duc Tho: And afterward you go to Saigon. So we will receive you in Hanoi on the 22nd.
Dr. Kissinger: There is a very important football game in Washington on that day and we cannot bring Mr. Lord because he will not miss that game. Can we also get some technical answers about what airplane we can take?
Le Duc Tho: I shall do everything.
Dr. Kissinger: Thank you.
Le Duc Tho: So you will be in Hanoi on the 22nd. Let me repeat the schedule to see whether I have well understood. On the 17th you will meet Minister Xuan Thuy in Paris.
Dr. Kissinger: Right.
Le Duc Tho: You will come to Hanoi on the 22nd and you will leave Hanoi on the 24th. Announcement of the agreement already initialed by the two parties the morning of the 27th.
Dr. Kissinger: Your time, the morning of the 27th. Evening of the 26th our time.
Le Duc Tho: Sign on the 30th or 31st.
Dr. Kissinger: I will give you on the 17th the definite date, or I shall let you know before then through the liaison officer. Probably the 30th, but whichever you prefer.
Le Duc Tho: According to me, if you can return to Paris sooner then it would be more convenient to me and to our leaders in Hanoi.
Dr. Kissinger: I cannot possibly return before Monday. That is out of the question. I will not know until I get to Washington to see what I face. It is very unlikely. We face a massive job in Washington.
Le Duc Tho: So if you cannot come to Paris earlier then, we shall arrange our schedule or time. So please keep this schedule.
Dr. Kissinger: We appreciate it. We are grateful. This is a schedule now which I am confident we can keep.
Le Duc Tho: But since you go to Hanoi then you will stop the bombing on what date?
Dr. Kissinger: I am going to Hanoi on the 22nd.
Le Duc Tho: Will you keep the 18th as before?
Dr. Kissinger: No, it will create too much confusion. We will reduce the bombing. You will see. I told you today we will no longer [Page 111] bomb Hanoi. We have already ordered this today, and we will keep this and we will decrease the number of sorties. It would be best if we stopped north of the 20th parallel the morning of the 21st and everywhere the evening of the 21st. And we will reduce in a way which you will notice in the next week. But it is essential that we do not have too much speculation until we have been in Saigon.
Le Duc Tho: So now we have set a schedule. Let us firmly keep it. We shall do an effort to keep it.
Dr. Kissinger: We, too.
Le Duc Tho: We shall rearrange our program of work. This should not be upset by change.
Dr. Kissinger: Thank you.
Le Duc Tho: Because your reception will be a whole thing to organize but it is very hard, very tiring too, if it is upset.
Dr. Kissinger: I understand. We will not change.
Le Duc Tho: And it is also very hard for me to return. Now let me say about the agreement. Let us complete the text on the points, on the provisions, we have agreed on. On the two points I have mentioned to you, when you meet Minister Xuan Thuy then I think you should come to an agreement by that time. We shall make an effort. You should make an effort too.
Dr. Kissinger: I don’t know whether the Minister, fond as I am of him, is capable of agreeing!
Minister Xuan Thuy: It is easy to draw experience from Avenue Kleber.
Le Duc Tho: So I can say now that except for these two questions we have agreed in the main.
Dr. Kissinger: That is right.
Le Duc Tho: So each one what we have agreed, we should not change it.
Dr. Kissinger: A few words here and there.
Le Duc Tho: Technical words. We will not change it too. We are not like you, always adding everything.
Dr. Kissinger: I like the generosity of spirit.
Le Duc Tho: So we have agreed on the schedule. We are determined to go in this direction.
Dr. Kissinger: I am a little worried about those last two items, Mr. Special Adviser. How shall it be done, with the Minister and I negotiating them? Or what do you suggest?
Le Duc Tho: Minister Xuan Thuy and you will negotiate. Minister Xuan Thuy has full power to do that.
Dr. Kissinger: That is more than I can say for myself.[Page 112]
Le Duc Tho: You have it. You have full power.
Dr. Kissinger: Don’t ever say it when the President can hear you.
Le Duc Tho: Now when you come here I will have left Paris already, otherwise I would be present …
Dr. Kissinger: I understand.
Le Duc Tho: Now there is another question. The Agreements on the Exercise of South Vietnam People’s Right to Self-Determination. When we have time, I myself and you will discuss it.
Dr. Kissinger: All right, we will continue our conversation.
Le Duc Tho: On this basis?
Dr. Kissinger: Yes, on a private basis.
Le Duc Tho: This will be used as a basis for the two South Vietnamese. I have drafted the announcement when you come to Hanoi. I have redrafted it a little: “As agreed upon by the Democratic Republic of Vietnam and the United States, Dr. Kissinger arrives in Hanoi on October 22, 1972 to continue the talks with the xxLe Duc Tho and to meet with the leaders of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam.”
Dr. Kissinger: Could we say “By mutual agreement of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam and the United States of America by mutual agreement.” It is the same meaning.
Le Duc Tho: Yes.
Dr. Kissinger: “By mutual agreement between.” [Le Duc Tho hands over DRV draft announcement, Tab D. Dr. Kissinger reads it.]9 Can we say “Dr. Kissinger, Assistant to the President”?
Le Duc Tho: All right.
Dr. Kissinger: I must tell you I think it will be to all practical purposes impossible to hold the announcement until I am in fact there. We will try to hold it until. Well, we say “has arrived in Hanoi,” or “arrived in Hanoi on October 22 to continue talks with Special Adviser Le Duc Tho and to meet other leaders of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam.” The rest is fine.
Now when I meet the Minister we will make the usual announcement that I am here and this time to meet Minister Xuan Thuy. On the 17th. Just what we have always done.
Le Duc Tho: Now on the part of the agreement we have agreed to, how we shall proceed?
Dr. Kissinger: Mr. Lord and Mr. Engel will meet with you tomorrow. I propose you don’t meet until noon. And can they meet somewhat closer, maybe not out here. They are not so well known! [Page 113] Maybe at the meeting place at the previous place. Whom will they meet?
I want to say, in order to avoid confusion, we will retype from our English and you have a copy of it. We will make a most conscientious effort to make sure that everything we have agreed on is incorporated.
Mr. Lord has no authority to negotiate, so if he is difficult this is not a sign of ill will. But he can make verbal adjustments. So if substantive differences remain, we will have to leave them until the 17th. He can bring the differences back, of course. He will leave a copy with you of our text with the right page numbers, with our page numbers. If there are any unexpected technical problems in Washington, I will notify you immediately and let you know what they are, on what page, and why. I do not expect it, but we must be prepared for everything.
Now we have one other matter which I must say. Even though you think I have full power, in our system the President must make the final decision, and he must see the completed text. I do not expect that he will raise any objections and I have often negotiated for him and he has never changed it. If there should be any objections from the President, I will let you know on Friday.10 He will be out of town tomorrow. I just must say this. You shouldn’t be too concerned about it, but I must say it on grounds of propriety. He will almost certainly approve it; I would say certainly.
Le Duc Tho: I can say now that we have achieved one of our most difficult work. We have made very important steps. In fact, the Vietnam war has been the longest, the most difficult and the most expensive war in American history. As far as we are concerned this war is also the biggest war against foreign aggression in our history, and it is also the biggest war against foreign oppression by oppressed peoples in the world. Our negotiations have lasted over four years now. It can be said that these negotiations are the longest negotiations between nations in the world. But we have made great effort, and you too, you have made great effort. And the efforts are the biggest during the last few days. And sometime during the course of the negotiations, our discussions were hot; on many occasions the impression left was that the negotiations might break. But our efforts have been great, and it can be said that our negotiations have brought about basic agreements on many basic questions, although the agreement has not been completed in that there are still two or three questions left. But through our effort, no doubt we will reach our objective of peace.
If peace is restored, I can say that there is a new page turned in the history of the relationship of our peoples, a new page turned from the [Page 114] relationship of hostility to a relationship of friendship; not only for the immediate period but for the long-term. And the day of signing of the settlement and the day of the end of the war will be a day of festivity for our two peoples. You and us can undertake to firmly keep the agreement we have made here. When we achieve the agreement, then we will undertake to honor what we have signed. So that is what I would like to express before I leave for Hanoi in two or three days. And I would like to wish you, and General Haig, and all your colleagues a good trip, a safe trip, to visit our country. It is my wish that your trips will be crowned with good success opening up a new era in the relationship of our two countries.
I shall meet you in Hanoi with General Haig and all your colleagues.
Dr. Kissinger: Mr. Special Adviser, I greatly appreciate your comments. I have personally negotiated on the problem of Vietnam now since 1967 and with the Special Adviser since 1969. We have had very difficult periods, but we have surmounted them, because we have both realized, as our people have realized, that peace is the most important objective to be achieved. As I told you yesterday, our two countries have on several occasions, made an armistice with each other but this time we must make a permanent peace.
But as we move from hostility to friendship, we should remember that there has been a great deal of suffering on both sides and that we owe it to those who have suffered that we not characterize the war in any particular way and that neither of us proclaim victory or defeat.
The real victory for both, of course, will now be the durable relations we can establish with each other. So when my colleagues and I come to Hanoi, we will come to pay our respects to the heroic people of North Vietnam and to begin a new era in our relationships. And we know you will be as dedicated in the pursuit of peace as you have been in the fighting of a war. So my colleagues and I look forward very much to seeing you next week in Hanoi.
[The group gets up from the table.]
Can you let us have the information about which airplane we can use?
Le Duc Tho: For technical points, we shall answer you through Colonel Guay.
Dr. Kissinger: We have handed you a number of unilateral statements of our position in the last few days. We will get them all together and give them to Minister Xuan Thuy on Tuesday. Since it is a statement of our position, you only have to note them, you do not need to make comments.
There is one statement of your position that you said you would give us which you haven’t given us, having to do with American prisoners in Laos.[Page 115]
Le Duc Tho: For the documents you have given us, that is satisfactory. We shall send to you an answer through the liaison officer.
[The meeting then ended.]
- Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 856, For the President’s Files (Winston Lord)—China Trip/Vietnam, Sensitive Camp David, Vol. XX [2 of 3]. Top Secret; Sensitive; Exclusively Eyes Only. The meeting took place at 108 Avenue du General Leclerc in Gif sur Yvette. Brackets, with the exception of those indicating omitted material, are in the original. Tabs A–C are attached but not printed. Tab C contains the agreed understanding between the parties on “Cease-Fire in Laos.”↩
- “Agreement on Ending the War and Restoring Peace in Vietnam.”↩
- Initially the key sentence of the article in the U.S. proposal stated: “In pursuance of its traditional policy the United States will contribute to healing the wounds of war throughout Indochina, including the Democratic Republic of Vietnam.” Kissinger’s handwritten amendment changed the text to read: “In pursuance of its traditional policy the United States will contribute to healing the wounds of war and to post-war reconstruction of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam and throughout Indochina.”↩
- “Protocol on the Healing of the War Wounds and the Rehabilitation of the Economy of North Viet Nam.”↩
- Reference is to Articles 1, 2, and 3 of Tab B. The first is a statement of general principle, namely that the United States will “contribute to the reconstruction” of North Vietnam after the war “without condition attached and without repayment.” Article 2 states that the United States will provide $4.5 billion over a 5-year period; and Article 3 indicates that the money would be placed in the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (World Bank) in a Democratic Republic of Vietnam account.↩
- James G. Lowenstein and Richard M. Moose, staff members on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, made annual trips to Vietnam to report on the situation to the Committee. The report to which Le Duc Tho referred was “Vietnam: May 1972: A Staff Report Prepared for the Use of the Committee on Foreign Relations, United States Senate,” June 29, 1972, which Lowenstein and Moose wrote after a May 23–June 5 trip to Vietnam.↩
- Le’s statement is not attached.↩
- October 16.↩
- Not attached.↩
- October 13.↩