80. Minutes of a Washington Special Actions Group Meeting1


  • Steps for the Implementation of a Southeast Asia Agreement


  • Chairman—Henry A. Kissinger
  • State
    • U. Alexis Johnson
    • William Sullivan
    • Defense
    • Kenneth Rush
    • G. Warren Nutter
    • R/Adm. Daniel J. Murphy
  • JCS
    • V/Adm. John Weinel
  • CIA
    • Richard Helms
    • George Carver
    • William Newton
  • NSC
    • M/Gen. Alexander Haig
    • Richard Kennedy
    • John Holdridge
    • James T. Hackett


It was agreed that:

  • —The planning and coordination of steps to implement a Southeast Asia Agreement should be conducted by four inter-agency working groups operating under the general supervision of the WSAG.
  • —The working groups will be organized effective October 30 and an initial report will be submitted by November 1, for consideration by the WSAG.
  • —The four working groups will concern themselves with: a. diplomatic measures, chaired by State, b. military measures, chaired by Defense, c. intelligence requirements, chaired by CIA, and d. economic reconstruction, chaired by State.
  • —The number of persons working on these matters is to be kept small and there are to be no leaks.
  • —Under no circumstances is the economic program to be called or considered reparations.

Mr. Kissinger: (to Mr. Helms) Do you want to give us a brief rundown of the current situation?

[Page 324]

Mr. Helms then read a situation report (copy attached).2

Mr. Kissinger: Are we bombing the supplies they are bringing in?

Adm. Weinel: Yes sir, we are.

Mr. Helms: Ambassador Bunker has sent in a cable expressing his concern about indications that the North Vietnamese are beginning a carefully orchestrated campaign to secure the release of NLF prisoners in the South. Bunker believes that it may become a major worldwide campaign that could even surpass the campaign against bombing the dikes. The North Vietnamese Foreign Minister called in the Egyptian Ambassador and asked Egypt to press for a signing of the agreement on October 31, arguing that the NLF prisoners in the South would be massacred if the agreement were delayed. Of course, the Egyptians went charging off in support of the North Vietnamese request, as they have done before. Those people in Stockholm who support the North Vietnamese line are also getting into the act on this issue.

Mr. Sullivan: If the North Vietnamese really believe the NLF prisoners will be killed, it could help us.

Mr. Kissinger: Well, this delay in signing the agreement gives us a chance to get some working groups organized and some preliminary work done on the details of the settlement. We want to establish four working groups. One will be chaired by State and will concern itself with the follow-on negotiations, the organization of the Four Party Commission, the ground rules and elaboration of the agreements, the organization of the International Control Commission, the plans for the international conference, and plans to adapt the organization of Embassy Saigon to the new situation. We will also consider plans for attachés, but that will be handled by the second working group. It will be chaired by Defense and, in addition to attachés, will consider plans for minesweeping and deactivation, immediate equipment delivery and transfer, the withdrawal of personnel and equipment, POWs and MIAs, equipment replacement, command and control, and observation of ceasefire enforcement. We would like to have another working group, chaired by CIA, that will handle intelligence planning, and also one chaired by State to consider economic planning, including both reconstruction and bilateral US-North Vietnamese economic relationships. I am giving you copies of the task lists (attached)3 outlining the composition and responsibilities of the working groups. You will notice that they refer to D-Day. We consider today, October 30, to be D-Day. The working groups should be activated immediately.

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Mr. Johnson: This results in widening the circle of those involved. I believe it is manageable, but I want to make the point that it does widen the circle.

Mr. Kissinger: I want to discuss that. My intention is to keep the circle small. We want no leaks. We might normally say we want as few leaks as possible, but in this matter I want no leaks. Of course, some of the information we will be dealing with is public knowledge, but that which is not should be held closely.

Mr. Johnson: The economic reconstruction plan will be a sensitive item.

Mr. Kissinger: The economic plan is not an integral part of the settlement. We will negotiate it with the North after the exchange of prisoners. It cannot under any circumstances be considered reparations.

Mr. Johnson: I agree. Certainly not reparations for the North. We have had a group working on an economic plan for some time.

Mr. Kissinger: We will have WSAG meetings on the progress of the working groups two or three times a week. They will all operate under the direction of the WSAG.

Mr. Sullivan: With regard to the ICC,4 I have called in the Canadians and Indonesians to discuss their participation. I have given a copy of the protocol on the ICC to the Canadians; they have had a lot of experience in these matters and are pretty astute, but I haven’t given it to the Indonesians. We can discuss this further with the Canadians when we see them tomorrow to congratulate them on the election results.

Mr. Kissinger: You’re assuming that Trudeau will be re-elected?

Mr. Sullivan: If he’s not, our Embassy is all wet.

Mr. Johnson: They’ve been wrong before.

Mr. Kissinger: (to Mr. Rush) How are the German elections going?

Mr. Rush: If the FDP wins a plurality, Brandt will be the Prime Minister. My guess is that Brandt will pull through, but it is very close.

Mr. Helms: It’s a real cliff-hanger.

Mr. Kissinger: I think the CDU would win if it had a good candidate.

Mr. Rush: I agree. Barzel just doesn’t have it.

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Mr. Sullivan: Returning to the ICC, the Indonesians are already off and running. They are organizing a 2,000 man brigade to use in Vietnam.

Mr. Kissinger: That’s good.

Mr. Sullivan: Bill Stearman is putting on paper the infiltration routes and key points where members of the control commission should be stationed. Here’s a cable I’d like to send to General Weyand to get him activated on this.5

Mr. Kissinger: (reviewing the cable) That’s good.

Mr. Sullivan: Regarding Souvanna Phouma

Mr. Kissinger: Oh, by the way, we should let Ambassador Godley know what went on when Souvanna Phouma met with the President last week.

Mr. Sullivan: We have a cable going out to Godley on that.6 It should be ready this morning. But in the meantime, Godley has sent us this cable expressing concern that the Laotians may decide on a unilateral cease-fire.

Mr. Kissinger: That’s not going to happen. We are going to bomb the trails.

Mr. Sullivan: Should we inform our embassies in the interested countries about reactivating the ICC? I would like to send out an informational cable to Delhi, Warsaw, Ottawa and Moscow.

Mr. Kissinger: That’s O.K., but tell them to keep quiet.

Mr. Sullivan: On the Khmer, this cable is in on supplies for Cambodia. I would like to send this reply right away.7

Mr. Kissinger: (considering the cable) O.K.

Mr. Sullivan: The Cambodians are also trying to tie their cease-fire to a “rallying” program.

Mr. Kissinger: The Cambodian cease-fire is the most ambiguous of all. Tell them to keep quiet about it.

Mr. Sullivan: I think that will be easy. They are sufficiently confused about the whole thing. You know that Waldheim sent a telegram to the Secretary. He wants to get into the act. We told him that the U.N. will not be involved in the Four Party Commission or the ICC, but that it will participate in matters relating to the international conference. He also raised the question of Paris as a site and was told that we want it in Geneva, not Paris. I am sure that the suggestions for Paris are coming [Page 327] from the Quai. Alex (Johnson) spoke with the Japanese the other day. (to Johnson) Do you want to comment on your discussions?

Mr. Johnson: The Japanese offered to participate, but we told them they would not be on any of the commissions. We invited them to contribute to reconstruction if they wished, and they said O.K., they would provide two billion dollars.

Mr. Kissinger: They did?

Mr. Johnson: Yes, they seem enthusiastic about the reconstruction program.

Mr. Kissinger: Perhaps they mean $1.9 billion for the North.

Mr. Johnson: They may not be so interested after my Friday session with them.

Mr. Sullivan: The other countries with residual troops in the area; Australia, New Zealand, Korea, the Philippines, are yapping about getting in on the agreement. We can have them sign an agreement when we get one, but there is no need to get them involved now.

Mr. Kissinger: Yes, let’s get an agreement first.

Mr. Sullivan: The Canadians want a copy of the agreement. We have told them they can’t have it.

Mr. Kissinger: Why do they need it?

Mr. Helms: It’s the standard Canadian approach. They always want everything.

Mr. Kissinger: That’s because they’re more noble than most.

Adm. Murphy: The Defense Department would like to have a copy, too.

Mr. Sullivan: We have a study underway on reconstruction of Vietnam, involving consideration of an international consortium.

Mr. Kissinger: The first thing we have to do is get these working groups going, then we will have another meeting later this week and frequent meetings the next several weeks.

Mr. Helms: Henry, would you clarify the question of whether reconnaissance flights will be permitted over the North?

Mr. Kissinger: There will be none.

Mr. Helms: Over the North?

Mr. Kissinger: That’s right. There are no restrictions of flights over the South.

Mr. Helms: What about Laos or Cambodia?

Mr. Kissinger: No problem.

Mr. Helms: So the recon flights can go up the trail and take pictures so long as they stay over Laos and Cambodia?

[Page 328]

Mr. Kissinger: That’s right. Well, let’s have a brief report on the organization of the working groups by Wednesday (Nov. 1) and then we’ll meet again next Friday (Nov. 3).8

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–117, Washington Special Actions Group, WSAG Minutes (Originals) 7–27–72 to 9–20–73. Top Secret; Sensitive. The meeting took place in the White House Situation Room.
  2. Helms’s briefing is ibid., Box H–089, Washington Special Actions Group Meetings, WSAG Meeting Southeast Asia 10–30–72.
  3. Not attached. Copies of the lists are ibid.
  4. Although Sullivan here referred to the International Control Commission (ICC), set up to enforce the Geneva Accords of 1954 and formally named the International Commission for Supervision and Control, he meant the International Commission of Control and Supervision, or ICCS, the organization that would come into existence when the peace accords were signed and would be tasked to monitor compliance with the agreement.
  5. Not found.
  6. Not found. Regarding the meeting with Souvanna, see Document 74.
  7. Neither found.
  8. Because Moorer was in Europe, Weinel attended this meeting in his place. In message 7237, October 30, 2137Z, he reported to Moorer: “Alexis Johnson seemed to be content with his Cherokee role and ultimately the minutia involved in commissions, conferences, reconstruction planning. Bill Sullivan cleared about five State type messages with HAK during the course of the meeting. It was obvious Alexis had not seen them but he apparently didn’t mind. Helms was quiet, said nothing, seemed almost disinterested. Rush and Nutter felt secure since they knew of our big jump on planning zero force levels and the excellent state of Enhance Plus. HAK seemed relaxed, unhurried and confident.” (National Archives, RG 218, Records of the Chairman, Records of Thomas Moorer, Box 69, JCS Out General Service Messages, 1–31 October 1972)