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

448/Tohak 176. 1. Under cover of a letter to me from Foreign Minister Lam we have received the text of the following letter from President Thieu to President Nixon.

Begin text.

Dear Mr. President:

I have just received today your message2 and would like to assure you that I share your concern as well as your determination to see the Paris Agreement and its protocols strictly enforced by all the parties concerned, towards an improved implementation of the cease-fire.

All the memoranda sent to us by Dr. Kissinger have been carefully weighed by myself and the principal members of my government, and our views have been extensively conveyed to your government in our memorandum of May 11, approximately on the deadline proposed in the U.S. Embassy note of April 5, that is six days before Dr. Kissinger met with Le Duc Tho. We have also replied very promptly to subsequent memoranda from the U.S. Embassy, within the periods of time requested, although these important matters normally would have required longer consideration.

In any case, as early as May 11, we have pointed out in our memorandum, at point C, that “The DRV has no right to interfere in the internal affairs of SVN, the more so that it has pledged, in Article 9 of the Paris Agreement, to respect the South Vietnamese people’s right to self-determination.”

Therefore, the point we raised on the “format of understanding” with the other side did not come belatedly. Besides, may I point out that this is not merely a procedural question. It is in fact an important point of substance relating to the principle of self-determination of the South Vietnamese people. This is apparently the reason why Le Duc Tho has tried so strenuously to impose his “format” of understanding. In another respect, I would like to tell you in all candor that the proposed memorandum of understanding includes clauses on the internal political questions of SVN. These questions, included in a document [Page 286]not to be signed by our government, will have very detrimental effects to the RVN, both before Vietnamese and international public opinion.

As for the proposed establishment of the TPJMC teams “on the boundary line of two zones controlled” by each South Vietnamese party, aside from its variance with the Paris Agreement, it could provide substance to the Communist claims that there are 2 “territories” under 2 “governments” within SVN, while the Paris Agreement, Article 3, established only the concept of areas of stationing of opposite armed forces, in a limited military sense.

Your message mentioned a latest draft which is in the process of being discussed with Le Duc Tho, which you have asked Dr. Kissinger to send to us promptly. I am awaiting the receipt of that document before I could reply further on other points of substance.

Let me assure you, Mr. President, that I take very much to heart the close cooperation between our two governments, and I remain deeply grateful to you for what you have done for the RVN. The questions now being negotiated, however, will decide the future of our country. I hope therefore that you would understand that we have to be most careful about them, especially while the Communists have been systematically violating the agreements.

Sincerely, Nguyen Van Thieu

End text.

2. Warm regards.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 36, HAK Trip Files, Paris Trip, May 1973, TOHAK 126–210. Secret; Sensitive; Eyes Only; Flash. Sent through the White House.
  2. See Document 56.