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

500. 1. The following is the text of a letter from President Thieu to President Nixon replying to President Nixon’s two latest messages.2

[Page 312]

2. Begin text.

Dear Mr. President,

I have received your two letters which reached me last night and early this morning and heard reports from Foreign Minister Tran-van-Lam on further explanations by Ambassador Whitehouse.3

The draft communiqué under its present form is very much to our disadvantage. It is very unbalanced and unjust.

Nevertheless I think that it is possible for us to avoid the narrow choice between only two different forms of disaster whether or not we sign the present draft joint communiqué.

With this in mind, I am willing to nominate a representative to sign the communiqué if the Articles 10, 11 and 12 of the June 5 English draft4 are left out.

In case the Communist side insists in incorporating in the communiqué clauses on the political solution in place of Articles 10 and 11, I shall accept to have the full quotation in the communiqué of all the Chapter IV of the Paris Agreement on the exercise of the South Vietnamese people’s right to self determination.

Furthermore, I am willing to accept a clause indicating that free and democratic general elections in South Viet-Nam should be held in no later than 6 months following the cease-fire referred to in Article 3 of the communiqué.

As for Article 12, we feel that, if it cannot be modified, it should be left out because it establishes a principle contrary to the Paris Agreement.

I think that, in this way, there can be a communiqué and at the same time you can avoid for us the disastrous consequences of the disruptions of our society, and of two territories under two governments in South Viet-Nam.

I value very highly your friendship and understanding, and consider that if any confrontation should occur, it will be only between Hanoi and us.


End text.

3. 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 and footnote 4, Document 70.
  3. See Document 71.
  4. Attached to Nixon’s June 5 letter to Thieu; see Document 64.