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

Hakto 111. Please pass following message to Guay for immediate delivery to customer for Le Duc Tho.

Quote: To: Special Adviser Le Duc Tho

Fm: Henry Kissinger

As I leave Asia on my way back to Washington, I am sending you this message, which I will supplement in greater detail within the next few days. I want to assure you that the primary focus of our current efforts both with your Asian neighbors and domestically, in the United States, will be upon those steps which will be necessary to normalize our relations, to establish a new and mutually beneficial relationship [Page 129] between our two countries. You are fully aware that these steps are complex and will require the most careful correlation between us.
It is our conviction, as you agreed with us in Hanoi, that the successful development of this relationship which we both seek will require a scrupulous implementation of all provisions of the Paris Agreement by the signatories. It is also our conviction that the Agreement must be considered an instrument for conciliation, rather than an opportunity for political warfare.
In pursuit of these convictions, we have taken a number of actions designed to improve the implementation of the Agreement and we will take others within the next weeks. We have, for example, persuaded the GVN to agree with the resolution presented by your side in the Joint Military Commission concerning new ceasefire orders in South Vietnam. We have taken action to assure better food and other living conditions for your personnel on the Joint Military Commission. We have furnished air transportation to expedite the return of your prisoners of war, and we have exerted maximum influence to obtain the release of 5000 civilian detainees.
On the other hand, we have encountered much suspicion by the GVN concerning the intentions of your personnel and those of the PRG on the Joint Military Commissions. I must tell you in all candor that we can do very little to relieve this suspicion while your armed forces are seeking military advantage in such places as Quang Ngai and while the illegal infiltration of war material continues.
In the latter connection, I note that the PRG has named three points of entry under Article 7. Two of these are on the Lao and Cambodian borders. We are naturally disturbed to contemplate the significance of these designations in relationship to your future intentions with respect to DRV forces in Laos and Cambodia. We would be partly reassured in this concern if you will state that you intend to use these points of entry for air transportation only. We note, however, that there is currently no airfield at Xa Mat. In any event we want to express our strong view that any introduction of military equipment through Laos and Cambodia is in direct violation of Article 20 (a) of the Agreement to End the War and Restore Peace in Vietnam.
We are also disturbed to note that, despite our various understandings, the Pathet Lao have not put forward or accepted ceasefire proposals which conform precisely to those understandings. Their latest suggestion for a ceasefire detached from political conditions was not for an agreement, but rather for unilateral but simultaneous declarations of ceasefire. We do not consider this satisfactory. In our view, and as Article 20(b) of the Agreement clearly provides, the withdrawal of foreign forces should be unconditional. We agreed to an understanding on practical grounds for a minimum delay to permit the [Page 130] activation of a ceasefire—but this deadline has long since passed. Your side is therefore in clear violation of both the Agreement and its associated understanding.2
On the other side of the ledger, I sympathize with the concern you have expressed over the apparent delays in clearance of mines in DRV coastal and inland waterways. Upon my return to Washington, I will look into these matters and will report my findings to you.
We have come too far in our long effort towards peace to permit the Agreement to be jeopardized by petty considerations or temporary tactical advantages. We wish this Agreement to succeed and it must succeed if we are to enter a new era of lasting peace in Indochina and Southeast Asia. We look forward to welcoming Special Adviser Le Duc Tho to Washington probably in June. Unquote.
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 29, HAK Trip Files, February 7–20, 1973, HAKTO 1–117. Top Secret; Sensitive; Exclusively Eyes Only.
  2. In message Hakto 115 from Beijing, February 20, Kissinger instructed Scowcroft: “Please contact Guay immediately and tell him to delete paragraph 6 on Laos in the message to Le Duc Tho transmitted in reftel. If necessary because of time pressure you can call Guay and refer to the paragraph number without, of course, mentioning the subject matter.” (Ibid.)