16. Message From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to the President’s Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs (Scowcroft)1

Hakto 44. Please pass the following report to the President. Begin text.

I began our third day in Hanoi with an almost 2-hour workout with Le Duc Tho on Laos and Cambodia.2 One interesting aspect was that the Politburo had almost certainly overruled Prime Minister Pham Van Dong who had been generally conciliatory on these questions the previous afternoon.3 Tho’s positions therefore were quite tough. After an intense discussion, however, we reached agreement that there would definitely be a ceasefire in Laos by this Friday.4 Tho also proposed that there be a political settlement within 30 days after that and that the withdrawal of foreign forces, including North Vietnamese, would take place no later than 90 days after that. The provision on withdrawals has some hookers in it which we will need to straighten out. We will have to talk to Souvanna Phouma. However the discussion represents progress since it gives us a cease fire and some timetable for North Vietnamese withdrawals.
The going was much tougher on Cambodia. Tho would not agree to any timetable for the withdrawal of North Vietnamese forces until there is a political settlement. On the latter we still have no mechanism for getting the various factions together to negotiate. I rejected his suggestion that I talk to Sihanouk. He said Sihanouk was very difficult and wouldn’t talk of it to Lon Nol. I will pursue this issue further tomorrow and in China, but it is particularly complex because of the various political groups in Cambodia, and on the issue of troop withdrawals we will undoubtedly have to use economic aid as a lever.
We then spent two hours with the Prime Minister, mostly on economic aid.5 This discussion proved much easier than I had feared, I opened with a long pitch on our congressional problems and described various approaches to economic assistance. They were impatient with our internal problems and it is difficult to judge to what [Page 118] extent they are finally beginning to recognize the obstacles we face and the need for careful management. The remainder of the discussion went smoothly, however, and we avoided many of the shoals that I expected. They accepted our basic approach of shifting all discussion into a joint US-DRV Economic Commission; they did not try to raise the target figures we had agreed upon; we agreed that we would not mention any total sums; and they concurred in other procedures which should make congressional approval easier.
After a tour of the Museum of Art I had a brief session with the Prime Minister on future US-DRV relations, a few issues on the Joint Communiqué and the international conference. We are still working on the communiqué.6 It should turn out to be very satisfactory although not as extensive as our opening draft. We agreed that the basic approach to future bilateral relations should be gradual and we can thus key this process to their performance on the agreement and on Indochina in general. On the international conference we agreed on joint invitations to the participants to be sent out on February 15.
After the afternoon meeting, the Prime Minister and I had a relaxed hour’s conversation, mostly on the course of the war and the negotiating history. He then hosted a dinner for the entire delegation including technical and support personnel. The dinner mood was very easy and cordial. The Prime Minister gave a very warm toast, reaffirming his country’s strong desire for good relations and stating that our talks had gone better that they had expected.
The North Vietnamese reaffirmed to me that they will release 20 extra prisoners out of turn in conjunction with my visit. They gave me a list of men which I have sent to Washington for notification of the families. Haldeman and Scowcroft are working out an announcement. End text.

Warm regards.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, HAK Trip Files, Box 29, February 7–20, 1973, HAKTO 1–117. Top Secret; Sensitive; Exclusively Eyes Only.
  2. See Document 15.
  3. See Document 13.
  4. February 16.
  5. See footnote 2, Document 15.
  6. See footnote 6, Document 13.