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

WH31580. 1. We have reached an extremely critical impasse in our efforts to produce a satisfactory result from our current negotiations here in Paris.2

2. For your information only, we have been unable to achieve a satisfactory breakthrough on Cambodia, and for that reason I have slipped the entire schedule of our work on the communiqué by 24 hours. It was only after I did this that we received the unbelievable letter from President Thieu suggesting that he would refuse to authorize his representative to sign the communiqué.3 It was therefore fortuitous that we postponed, but I do not wish the GVN to think our delay is due to anything other than their own intransigence.

3. We are sending you a stiff Presidential letter,4 and GVN Ambassador Phuong is being called in to the White House. It is inconceivable that your clients wish to commit suicide in such a stupid way.

4. We must repeat must have a favorable answer from Thieu June 7 at 0800 Paris time. I have no choice, given the current situation, but to initial the communiqué later that same morning. If I initial, and Thieu reneges, he is finished. He must understand that the Congress would kill him off with dispatch and delight, because they would at long last have found a palpable issue. We would have to make public the fact that Thieu scuttled the communiqué.

5. You must therefore extract an affirmative response from Thieu in the morning as a matter of utter necessity. This response must, as an imperative, cover the willingness of the GVN representative to sign the communiqué on the morning of June 9. It should also make clear to us whether the GVN wishes to have a four-party meeting on June 8 prior to the issuance of the communiqué as they previously requested.

6. The fact is that we have no chips to play on Cambodia and will therefore have to accept the best deal we can get. We will not, incidentally, provide the GVN with any documents on this subject.

7. Warm regards.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 415, Backchannel Messages, Bunker/Whitehouse, April–July 18, 1973. Secret; Flash. Sent through the White House.
  2. Kissinger returned to Paris the evening of June 5.
  3. See footnote 4, Document 64.
  4. See Document 66.