14. Message From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to the Ambassador to Laos (Godley)1

WH30414/Hakto 32. 1. We had lengthy discussion afternoon February 11 with Pham Van Dong and Le Duc Tho on question of Laos. The talks covered three general areas:

Cease fire
Political settlement
Withdrawal foreign forces

2. On cease fire, DRV agreed to separate cease fire from political settlement, if Souvanna formally proposes such separation. DRV also [Page 101] agreed that document to be signed between RLG and Pathet Lao should contain no rpt no statements offensive to any party at interest to the agreement. This means A, that cease fire must be formally instituted, rather than merely de facto, and B, that all reference “U.S. aggression” or even singling out U.S. in termination of aerial bombardment must be eliminated. We and DRV agreed to send messages to our respective allies which would stipulate that agreement will speak merely of “cessation of all aerial bombardment” rather than identifying it by nationality.

3. On political settlement, we and DRV agreed that it should be left entirely to Lao parties to work out, but that we should each encourage our allies to settle expeditionsly.

4. On withdrawal of foreign forces, we have not rpt not yet reached agreement on modalities. We proposed that time frame for withdrawals should be linked to cease fire. Le Duc Tho proposed that it should be linked to a political settlement. We suggested 30 days as appropriate maximum delay. Le Duc Tho said that Pathet Lao preferred 90 days. It is clear from Le Duc Tho’s attitude that he wishes to use presence of DRV forces as lever against political process. At this point in discussion, DRV caucused with each other and decided to reconsider their position. We will resume discussions February 12.

5. You should urgently see Souvanna and advise him:

DRV agrees that cease fire should be separated from political settlement. If Souvanna formally proposes this, Pathet Lao will accept.
Cease fire should be a formal document and not rpt not de facto.
Document should contain no rpt no offensive language and cite language in para 2.
Political settlement should be worked out as rapidly as possible.
We will have further advice with respect to timing of foreign troop withdrawals after February 12 meetings and will cable soonest.

6. Please report soonest results your conversation with Souvanna.2

7. Warm regards.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 29, HAK Trip Files, February 7–20, 1973, HAKTO 1–117. Secret; Sensitive; Flash. Sent through Scowcroft in the White House for transmittal to Godley.
  2. Godley confirmed delivery of the message to Souvanna in backchannel message 696 to Kissinger, February 13. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 411, Backchannel Messages, Southeast Asia, 1973)