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

490. 1. The following is the letter from President Thieu to President Nixon. We received it in draft from Lam who said the signed original would follow.

Begin text.

June 7, 1973

Nguyen Van Thieu, President of the Republic of Viet-Nam

Dear Mr. President,

I have just received your letter today,2 and must confess my surprise that you were astounded that I have conveyed to you the views of our government on the draft joint communiqué you sent to us for consultations, instead of simply sending a representative to Paris to sign it under its present form.

Much to my regret, I cannot concur with you when you mentioned that “every change” I have previously requested “has been included in the draft in one form or another”. As an example, one of the two major points I brought up in my letter of June 23 has not been dealt with at all: on our opposition to the Communist claims of two territories in South Viet-Nam, the communiqué still maintains, under exactly the same wording, the Communist proposal to establish a new rule, not provided under the Paris Agreement and its protocols, to have the TPJMC teams located “where an area controlled by one of them adjoins an area controlled by the other” in Article 12b of the draft communiqué.

As for the other important point I brought up in my letter of June 2, regarding the elections in South Viet-Nam, I must point out that this question is specifically mentioned in Article 9 of the Paris Agreement. Therefore, if the sequence of the articles in the Paris Agreement should be the criterion in the listing of questions in the communiqué; free and democratic elections under Article 9 should be mentioned before the question of democratic liberties provided under Article 11 of the Paris Agreement.

Besides, when mention is made of the NCNR under Article 12 of the Paris Agreement, I feel that the role of the NCNR to “organize the [Page 303]free and democratic elections provided for in Article 9b” should be also recalled, if indeed the purpose of the communiqué is to promote the faithful implementation of the Paris Agreement.

On the other points raised in your letter, I regret to say that many of them are not accurate. You mentioned: “the last sentence of paragraph 8c to which you object is drawn from Article 7b of the cease-fire protocol which the GVN has signed.”

In fact, the last sentence of Article 8c of the draft communiqué we seek to delete reads “in the territory controlled by that party,” while Article 7b of the cease-fire protocol reads: “South Vietnamese party which is in control of that point.” There is a great difference between “territory” and “point”, and we would like to adhere to the language of the cease-fire protocol.

As for Le Duc Tho’s wording on the prohibition of introduction of military personnel and war material into SVN, his draft article is not completely to our liking as a whole. However it does make a reference to the legitimate replacements under Article 7 of the Paris Agreement, in point c, of paragraph 4 in Le Duc Tho’s draft, under this form: “24 hours after the entry into force of strict cease-fire, the TPJMC will immediately discuss the modalities for the replacements of armaments and for their inspection.”

These facts relating to the points raised in your letter indicate that there is some undue haste relating to the negotiations in Paris.

From our standpoint, these negotiations deal with the future of our country. They are vital for us. I earnestly hope therefore that you would understand that we must express our views on these questions, and that these views deserve to be taken into consideration in the shaping of the communiqué, even though this would involve some additional time for reflection and additional efforts by your negotiators.

At this stage, I suggest that one of the following procedures can be adopted:

—Ideally, if our views are taken into consideration, the GVN will be very happy to sign the communiqué, and give whole-hearted adhesion to its clauses.
—If our views are discarded, and you insist on the 4 party signatures, I think that, in this case, the clauses on which no consensus can be reached, should be left out of the communiqué.
—If you consider that the present draft should be maintained in its entirety, without any modifications, the most appropriate procedure, in my view, would then be the return to the formula of 2 party signatures between the USG and DRV, as proposed to us by your representatives last month, with the clause of “appeal” to the South Vietnamese parties.

As I said to you on previous occasions, I take very much to heart, Mr. President, my close cooperation with you and remain deeply [Page 304]grateful to you for what you have done for the cause of freedom in Viet-Nam. I am strongly convinced, however, that the views I present on the questions being negotiated are reasonable, and that many people would understand them.


End text.

2. Warm regards.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 415, Backchannel Messages, Bunker/Whitehouse, April–July 18, 1973. Top Secret; Sensitive; Exclusively Eyes Only; Flash. Sent through the White House.
  2. See Document 66.
  3. See Document 63.