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

WH31649. Please pass following message to Charlie Whitehouse in Saigon as an oral rpt oral communication from the President for immediate transmittal to President Thieu:

Dear Mr. President:

I wish you to know that I appreciate the fact that the choice which has been placed before you as a result of developments in our negotiations with the North Vietnamese entails a difficult decision for you. I understand you will be meeting with your advisers on the morning of June 9 to face this decision. As you enter that meeting, there are several considerations I feel I should bring to your attention.

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The first consideration concerns all those various matters which I have raised with you in our earlier communications as they affect public and congressional opinion in the United States. I repeat, once again, that no matter how strongly you or your advisers may feel about some of the matters which trouble you, they can not compare in magnitude with the problems which will beset you by your refusal to sign the communiqué. The mood in our country is such that I can predict that the consequences of that refusal will be disastrous.

The second consideration, which I want to convey to you in total confidence, is that we have an arrangement concerning Laos which will involve the withdrawal of North Vietnamese forces from that country over a period of sixty days beginning July 1. We feel this is of paramount importance to you and should not be lightly dismissed as one of the elements which will be lost if this communiqué is not signed.

Finally, I want to inform you that we are engaged in a complex three cornered negotiation on Cambodia. We have made some progress in this effort and we hope to be able to exploit it further in order to forestall some of the shortsighted steps which our Congress is prepared to take with respect to that country. We will need some time for that purpose and this communiqué will buy it for us.

Mr. President, these are the thoughts which I wish to impart to you on this fateful morning in our relations. I hope they will prove of value to you in your deliberations.


Richard Nixon

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 415, Backchannel Messages, Bunker/Whitehouse, April–July 18, 1973. Secret; Sensitive; Exclusively Eyes Only; Flash. Sent through the White House with the instruction: “Deliver immediately.”