135. Memorandum of Conversation1
- His Excellency Tran Kim Phuong, Ambassador of the Republic of Vietnam
- President Gerald R. Ford
- Dr. Henry A. Kissinger, Secretary of State and Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
- Lt. General Brent Scowcroft, Deputy Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
Ambassador Phuong: Let me give you my congratulations on behalf of my country.
President Ford: Thank you. And please give President Thieu my best wishes.
Secretary Kissinger: I told Ambassador Phuong that the fact he is one of the few you are seeing individually is a symbol of our concern for you.
Ambassador Phuong: I am very grateful to see that South Vietnam still has such a relationship with the United States.[Page 540]
[The press was admitted for photos.]
Secretary Kissinger: The Ambassador and I went through many negotiations together.
President Ford: Were you in all of them?
Ambassador Phuong: In all but the last one. In Paris.
Secretary Kissinger: I had to negotiate with the North Vietnamese in the day and with the South Vietnamese at night. The press reports said I was out with the girls at night, but it wasn’t true.
President Ford: Not with the girls? At least not since you’ve been married. How long did that last?
Secretary Kissinger: About four months, in phases.
President Ford: I went to the signing. Secretary Rogers took us along. I have a pen the Secretary gave me which was used in the signing. I have it framed.
[The press was dismissed.]
I assure you we will continue our policies and will try to continue them effectively. I know you have problems. Heavy military activity has been going on, especially the last three days. I was very disappointed in the $1 billion cut to $700 million. We asked for $1.4. At last we beat Riegle who wanted it cut to $375 million. But $700 million is not enough.
Ambassador Phuong: It is not. With prices going up.
President Ford: Next week I hope to make personal contacts in the Senate to convince them the House figure is too low.
Secretary Kissinger: If you could turn McClellan around, that would make a big difference.
Ambassador Phuong: Our concern is that Hanoi could read this as a signal of your disinterest and increase its activity. Now you are meeting with the Soviet Union, maybe there is some way to get them to cut their supplies to North Vietnam. If they continue and we can’t get supplies from the United States, it would be very serious.
President Ford: Can we get help from Humphrey?
Secretary Kissinger: He supports economic more than military aid.
Ambassador Phuong: He came back from his trip there very impressed. There was a very serious mark-up in the House—it was only $450 million for Vietnam.
Secretary Kissinger: It is disgraceful., Mr. President, for a lousy $200 million to let Vietnam go down the drain, after 50,000 Americans died there.
President Ford: We will do our best. Give President Thieu my best and my admiration to Thieu. We are proud of our relationship, and I assure you and the President that we will do our best to continue it.
- Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Memoranda of Conversations, Box 4, Memcons. Secret; Nodis. The meeting was held in the Oval Office. Brackets are in the original.↩