50. Message From the Acting Ambassador to Vietnam (Whitehouse) to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) in Paris1

429/Tohak 73. Ref: WH31283.2

I believe Phong is giving you an accurate and truthful version of the basic problem here. The GVN is concerned with the form of [Page 241]the memorandum and does not wish to get caught in the American stooge trap. On the other hand the substance of its position makes no sense.3
At this stage and pending further instructions I do not believe it would do much good to see Thieu merely to tell him that we are flexible and to stress the importance of reaching an understanding. I expect that by late morning Saturday4 (local time) you will have more precise guidance for us. Atmosphere here is sufficiently electric to warrant having a little substance to chew on with Thieu. Unless instructed to the contrary I will hold off seeking an appointment with Thieu until your re-draft or some version thereof can be the basis for discussion.

Warm regards.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 36, HAK Trip Files, Paris Trip, May 1973, TOHAK 61–125. Secret; Sensitive; Flash. Sent to the White House for transmittal to Kissinger.
  2. In message WH31283/Hakto 15, May 18, Kissinger relayed to Ambassador White-house the results of Sullivan’s meeting with Phong in Paris where Phong’s major objection was that the U.S.-DRV draft memorandum of understanding obligated South Vietnam to act as a signatory without proper consultation. Kissinger instructed Whitehouse to stress the “extremely limited time we have on the congressional front, point out that a failure on our part to produce an understanding with Hanoi at this juncture could be disastrous for the GVN.” (Ibid., Box 35, HAK Trip Files, Paris Trip, May 1973, HAKTO 1–46)
  3. Whitehouse sent a detailed GVN memorandum on the U.S.-DRV negotiations to Kissinger in message 247/Tohak 69, May 18. Whitehouse concluded: “As we left I told Lam that I had come without instructions but was confident that you and the President would be extremely disturbed by the position taken by the GVN and that I would probably be requesting an appointment with President Thieu tomorrow.” (Ibid., Box 36, HAK Trip Files, Paris Trip, May 1973, TOHAK 61–125)
  4. May 19.