134. Memorandum of Conversation1
- The Secretary’s Meeting with Vietnamese Ambassador Phuong
- The Secretary
- Vietnamese Ambassador Tran Kim Phuong
- Mr. Nguyen Dinh Nam, First Secretary, Embassy of Viet-Nam
- Mr. Arthur W. Hummel, Jr., Acting Assistant Secretary, EA
- Mr. William Stearman, NSC Staff
- Mr. O. Ammon Bartley, Jr., EA/VN
Secretary: We’re meeting here today so that you can see the President and have pictures taken. Later I will take you in to the President. We want you to know immediately that we are very interested in the survival of Viet-Nam and that our policy continues.2 By having you here shortly after President Ford assumed office, and by having pictures taken of your meeting, I wanted our common enemy to know of our continued strong support.
Ambassador Phuong: We have been very concerned.
Secretary (jokingly): Is it true that Mr. Nha has sent a letter of protest about my reappointment as Secretary?
Ambassador Phuong: Oh, I think Nha is all right now.
Secretary: Would you have liked to have had the war going on during Watergate?
Ambassador Phuong: I still remember our meeting here in April, 1973, just before Watergate.3
Secretary: At that time we had every intention of bombing in the North.[Page 538]
Ambassador Phuong: Saigon is now very worried about what has happened here.
Secretary: What about?
Ambassador Phuong: The diminution of aid.
Secretary: We will make a major effort and a massive fight for restoration.
Ambassador Phuong: We really hope so. Last Monday’s news sapped the morale of our troops.
Secretary: I know. We will make a massive effort in the Senate.
Ambassador Phuong: I hope so.
Secretary (looking at Mr. Stearman): Was it the whole House?
Stearman: Yes. The Senate Sub-Committee will start its mark-up on Monday or Tuesday.4
Secretary: I asked my geniuses yesterday to draft a letter to Senator McClellan. (Looking at Mr. Hummel) Was it done?
Hummel: Yes sir, it went up last night.
Secretary: I hope so. They wanted me to phone, but a letter does more good. Perhaps I will also phone.
Stearman: If the Hill is marked up at a low figure in the Sub-Committee, it won’t go above that figure on the floor.
Ambassador Phuong: We must have a good mark-up. It would be very hard to go above the mark-up on the floor. The members have not been very friendly to us.
Secretary: Perhaps I can get the President to call McClellan.
Ambassador Phuong: We have had a big fight near Danang and possibly will have more fighting at Ben Cat. The 5th Division might also now be in Tay Ninh.
Secretary: Isn’t this the rainy season?
Ambassador Phuong: Only in the Delta.
Ambassador Phuong: I’m afraid that Hanoi will misread the situation. We have been very worried about their intentions during the last year. Our Aid declines and they get stronger.
Secretary: I agree.
Ambassador Phuong: We would like to ask, now when you are talking to the Chinese and the Soviets.
Secretary: We warned the Soviets yesterday.
Ambassador Phuong: You did?
Secretary: Yes, we spoke to the Soviets yesterday (looking at Mr. Hummel). I don’t want that shot around the world, Art.[Page 539]
Hummel: No, sir.
Ambassador Phuong: We think you can pressure them to be restrained.
Secretary: I think they will be restrained for the next few months. Ambassador Phuong: They’ll be restrained?
Secretary: They’ll be restrained, in my view, over the next year. They always worry about a new President fearing he may do something crazy.
White House Aide (entering the Secretary’s office): Sir, the President is ready.
Secretary: I think we’ll go in to see the President and get your picture taken.
The Secretary and Ambassador Phuong left the room at 7:25 p.m.
- Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 105, Country Files, Far East, Vietnam, GVN Memcons, June 1973–August 1974. Secret; Nodis. The meeting was held in the Secretary’s White House office.↩
- A personal message from Ford to Thieu, transmitted to Saigon in telegram 174064, August 9, began: “As I assume the office of President of the United States, one of my first thoughts concerns the savage attacks your armed forces are now successfully resisting with such courage and bravery. I do not think I really need to inform you that American foreign policy has always been marked by its essential continuity and its essential bipartisan nature. This is even more true today and the existing commitments this nation has made in the past are still valid and will be fully honored in my administration.” (Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Kissinger–Scowcroft West Wing Office Files, Box 34, Vietnamese War, Camp David File)↩
- See Documents 38 and 39.↩
- August 12 or 13; see Document 136.↩