247. Minutes of the Secretary of State’s Regionals Staff Meeting1

[Omitted here are a table of contents, list of participants, and discussion unrelated to Vietnam.]

Mr. Habib: Thieu will be resigning this morning.

Secretary Kissinger: He’s just resigned.

Mr. Habib: His succession—at least, the plan before the announcement was that he would resign and turn it over to [Page 869] Tran Van Lam. Lam will presumably then appoint a Prime Minister, who will be acceptable to talk to the other side. I haven’t seen the actual text of the resignation, so we haven’t seen what he said yet.

Now, whether that plan is followed, the sequence then will probably be the PRG will then make that they make their conditions for—

Secretary Kissinger: That what?

Mr. Habib: That they make their conditions even more difficult.

Secretary Kissinger: That’s right. He resigned 48 hours too early.

Mr. Habib: And the net result will be a fig-leaf turn-over.

Secretary Kissinger: Now we don’t have any leverage left.

Mr. Habib: Well, the leverage, the only leverage, that the GVN has left that presumed the PRG’s, DRV’s desire to have a legitimate trend—

Secretary Kissinger: Some people spoke too freely to Bac.

Mr. Habib: Spoke too freely to whom?

Secretary Kissinger: Bac, the Foreign Minister. I’ll show you—

Mr. Habib: I saw him and you saw him, and—

Secretary Kissinger: I’ll show you the intercept. You know, there’s no problem with the resignation. It’s just a question of when it should be. You know the other schemes we were working on.

Mr. Habib: Yes. Well, I think now the shape of it will take place. It will be interesting to see whether or not the PRG will move quickly, because that’s all that’s left to see.

Secretary Kissinger: Now we have a Cambodian situation. We have a government we have little influence over, and it has no force against the government. And now events will take—

Mr. Habib: All it has to offer is the structure.

Secretary Kissinger: Well, we’ll have a WSAG Meeting today, where I hope the State Department people will not specialize in talking to attack the Secretary. (Laughter). Attack the other Department. The Defense Department will be well equipped. (Laughter.)

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to Vietnam.]

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Transcripts of Secretary of State Kissinger’s Staff Meetings, 1973–1977, Entry 5177, Box 7, Secretary’s Staff Meetings. Secret. Kissinger chaired the meeting, which was attended by all the principal officers including the assistant secretaries for the regional but not functional bureaus of the Department or their designated alternates.