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

497. The following is the text of letter from President Thieu to President Nixon which we have just received.

Begin text.

Saigon, June 8, 1973

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

Dear Mr. President,

Thank you very much for your letter I received early in the morning today.2

First, I would like to assure you that the GVN has not made any announcement on the negotiations being conducted in Paris. Some newsmen however have extrapolated a general explanation made at a routine press briefing that the GVN would strictly abide by the Paris Agreement.

In these negotiations, you stated that all the views of the GVN were taken into account and that the draft communiqué, under its present form, is favorable to the RVN interests. I regret that I cannot concur on this, and I have explained our views to you in some details in my recent letters.

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You informed me that you have instructed Dr. Kissinger to propose to Le Duc Tho that the two of them would sign the text of the communiqué as it stands, and that they would jointly issue a public appeal to the two South Vietnamese parties to carry out its terms. You drew my attention to the inconveniences of this procedure which would make the GVN actions in accordance with the communiqué as concessions made with reluctance rather than voluntary steps for peace.

I am aware of these inconveniences, and consider this formula as far from being an ideal one. As I pointed out in my letter yesterday,3 I would have liked much better to have the necessary modifications to the present draft so that the GVN could join in the signing of the communiqué. Without the modifications we deem indispensable, I consider it absolutely impossible for the GVN to sign the communiqué as imposed on us by the DRV.

In the “appeal” formula, however, we can in my view avoid the inconveniences you mentioned by a declaration of adhesion of the GVN to the communiqué, with some reservations on the points I brought up with you.

As I said in my letter yesterday to you, I am strongly convinced that the views of the GVN on the questions being negotiated are very reasonable, and that many people would understand them.

We have displayed much restraint on this question—as your government has been doing—and we shall continue to do so. However, if Hanoi chooses to make a public explanation of the records of these negotiations, we shall welcome this opportunity to show the absurd attitude of North Viet-Nam which systematically violates the Paris Agreement and wants to impose on us unjust clauses in the communiqué. Any objective observer will then see that practically all the clauses of the draft communiqué are in favor of North Viet-Nam, which assumes no clear obligation under it. Besides, the large infiltration into South Viet-Nam of North Vietnamese troops and war material in violation of the Paris Agreement has not been even dealt with.

There are fundamental issues in the draft communiqué, in particular with regard to the Communist attempt to separate the elections from other items in the political process, and to establish the principle of two territories in South Viet-Nam contrary to the Paris Agreement and its protocols.

In requesting modifications to their draft, we are trying to preserve the long term chances of survival for a free South Viet-Nam, a purpose for which our two countries have fought together and have made so [Page 310]many sacrifices to defend. Therefore I fervently hope for your understanding in the present conjuncture.4

Sincerely, Nguyen-Van-Thieu

End text

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 69.
  3. See Document 67.
  4. In backchannel message WH31636 to Saigon, June 8, Kissinger responded: “Thieu’s latest letter makes it clear there can be no four-party signature on the communiqué.” Kissinger continued: “We therefore intend to agree with Le Duc Tho this afternoon on the two-party text as it now stands, and I will initial it.” In backchannel message WH31640 to Saigon, June 8, Kissinger sent Whitehouse another Presidential letter for Thieu that concluded: “The four-party signature of the communiqué is the only acceptable course to us. I asked you to consider, in formulating your answer to this letter, whether you really feel that a rejection of that course for the reasons you have advanced is worth giving total satisfaction to all those who have opposed everything we worked together to achieve in our common endeavors, and for which so many thousands of our countrymen have already given their lives.” (Both in the National Archives, Nixon Presidential Files, NSC Files, Box 415, Backchannel Messages, Bunker/Whitehouse, April–July 18, 1973) Nixon informed Thieu on June 9 that the North Vietnamese had rejected the proposal; see footnote 2, Document 75.