62. Backchannel Message From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to the Acting Ambassador to Vietnam (Whitehouse)1

WH31467. 1. Please deliver following letter from President Nixon to President Thieu.

Begin text

May 30, 1973

“Dear Mr. President:

“Once again I am writing you in connection with the draft communiqué which Dr. Kissinger and Le Duc Tho are negotiating in Paris. I wish to inform you of the action we have taken following the discussions which Ambassador Sullivan had with you and your representatives in Saigon last week.

“We have examined with great care the various changes which your government has proposed in the draft communiqué. On the basis of the negotiations which have brought the draft text to the form which was given to you on May 24, we know that some of your proposals would be completely rejected by the North Vietnamese, or would be accepted by them only at a price which would be higher than either you or we would be willing to pay. Others, which are of less intrinsic significance, might possibly be acceptable to them, but at the cost of long and tedious delays.

“In the light of these considerations, I have directed Dr. Kissinger to seek the agreement of Le Duc Tho to a number of the proposals you have made, either in the precise language you have suggested, or in modified versions which have been already discussed with you and Foreign Minister Lam. Ambassador Whitehouse can provide you the precise details of the proposals as we have put them forward.

“I am not at all sanguine that we can obtain North Vietnamese concurrence in these changes. If we can obtain their concurrence even in part, the text would obviously be improved from your viewpoint. On the other hand, even if we obtain none of them, I feel very strongly that the text is, on balance, a document which is helpful to your government and is useful to both of us. If it were a unilateral document, without North Vietnamese input, we would, of course, prefer to see it [Page 295]more positive and to have it contain more precise obligations for implementation of the Agreement.

“However, given the circumstances of its negotiation, I believe it is the best we can obtain and that it contains nothing which could remotely occasion adverse effects for your government. It will be enormously helpful to me to have the communiqué issued with the signature of your representative alongside that of Dr. Kissinger. We need an action of this kind if I am to be able to obtain from the Congress the sort of legislative cooperation which will be required to carry out the programs for peace and stability which you and I discussed in San Clemente.

“Consequently, I seek your assurance that you will accept the text of the communiqué as it emerges from our negotiations with the North Vietnamese and that you will designate a representative to meet with the other three parties in Paris June 7 in order to sign the document on June 8.

Sincerely, Richard Nixon2

End text

2. President much appreciates great job you are doing.

Warm regards.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 415, Backchannel Messages, Bunker/Whitehouse, April 1973–July 18, 1973. Secret; Sensitive; Exclusively Eyes Only; Immediate.
  2. After a June 1 meeting with Lam, during which the Foreign Minister adopted a conciliatory posture, Whitehouse relayed to Kissinger in backchannel message 470 from Saigon, June 1: “The President’s letter has clearly been of overriding importance in bringing about this more reasonable approach on the part of the GVN.” (Ibid.)