3. Memorandum for the President’s Files by the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1
- Meeting with South Vietnamese Foreign Minister Tran Van Lam, Tuesday, January 30, 1973, at 9:30–10:00 a.m.
- The President
- Dr. Henry A. Kissinger
- Foreign Minister Tran Van Lam
- Ambassador Tran Kim Phuong
[After a brief photo opportunity, the President greeted Foreign Minister Lam, who was on his way back to Saigon after signing the Ceasefire Agreement in Paris on January 27.]2
The President: We must have an even closer relationship as peacetime allies. The settlement will last only as long as our two governments go forward together. You can count on our continued military and material support and economic support. And spiritual support. We recognize only one government in South Vietnam. The Republic of Vietnam will be recognized and assisted. The key to U.S. policy in Indochina is our continued alliance and friendship with Vietnam. I have sent the Vice President to show that we are standing firm with our allies.3 You have stood firm. We respect you for it. The American press shouldn’t discourage you. They don’t represent the American people. You should know you have a friend in this office.
We all have a responsibility to cool it now, however, China and the USSR will be urged to restrain their friends.
Foreign Minister Lam: We are gratified by your approach. Sometimes we gave a hard time to Dr. Kissinger. But we perfectly understand the necessity of sticking together. We had to show we tried to get the maximum we could. But it finally depends on good will between us.[Page 13]
The President: There is no good will on their side. I have no illusions about that. We must create a necessity. A carrot and a stick.
Foreign Minister Lam: I would like on behalf of President Thieu and our National Security Council to apologize for any difficulties we may have caused you. Your statement regarding Saigon as the legitimate government is very helpful to us.
I would like to present another point, having to do with the site of the International Conference. In Paris we had been assured there would be no demonstrations, but there was one on the day of the ceremonies. We told Schumann it was very hard for the prestige of France. The other side have not insisted on Paris. We prefer elsewhere. In my opinion we prefer some other site.
The President: The French must give us an assurance, and unless there is no demonstration we can’t go there. To have a demonstration on this historic occasion will be counter to the spirit of occasion. Schumann is a crook.
Foreign Minister Lam: The Secretary General of the UN is among the participants. Therefore it should be in a UN spot.
The President: Let me emphasize this: You have the third largest army in the world. You must be self-confident. I was glad you had a celebration on the day of settlement. We have a stick and a carrot to restrain Hanoi. After all this sacrifice—now is the important point. The key is our strength and our alliance.
Foreign Minister Lam: You will be proud of our people. The problem is how to split the NLF from the NVA. We should scrupulously keep the Agreement. We should always put the other side in the position of the bad guy. Can you get French support at the Conference.
The President: Pompidou is a good man. Let us play the game on the Conference very carefully.
Foreign Minister Lam: How about a conference with President Thieu?
The President: I would like to have President Thieu visit in San Clemente at the Western White House. Tell him to propose any date convenient to him. Any time he says after March 1st. Anytime between March and June.
- Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 104, Country Files, Far East, Vietnam, GVN Memcons, November 1972–April 1973. Top Secret; Sensitive; Exclusively Eyes Only. The meeting was held in the Oval Office. Brackets are in the original. For an audio recording of this conversation, see ibid., White House Tapes, Conversation No. 844-03.↩
- See footnote 2, Document 1.↩
- Agnew toured Southeast Asia from January 30 to February 9. See footnote 1, Document 7.↩