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

519. 1. The GVN has folded. As he handed me the following letter, Lam informed me that instructions had been sent to Dr. Vien to sign the communiqué this afternoon. The reference to a last supreme effort is clearly only a matter of saving face.

2. Begin text.

June 13, 1973

Dear Mr. President,

I have received your drastic letter today,2 and on the basis of the reasons you mentioned relating to paragraph 12b I decided to make a great sacrifice in no longer insisting on the modifications I requested previously in that paragraph.

Concerning the political provisions, the Communist side could not refuse to mention Article 9b of the Paris Agreement on free and democratic general elections, because it is the most important clause in Chapter IV of the Paris Agreement. However, the Communists still attempt to separate the issue of general elections from the question of democratic liberties, in order to exploit them to subvert and undermine our society, concurrently with the persistent and mounting threat of the NVA in South Viet-Nam.

Therefore I most earnestly ask you to make a last supreme effort to obtain the inclusion of Article 9b at the beginning of paragraph 10.3 I am attaching the text of paragraph 10, with the above mentioned inclusion.

In dropping our demand for the modification of paragraph 12c, we have already made a great sacrifice. As for the place of the mention of Article 9b, under its benign appearance, it relates to a fundamental issue of very great significance to us.

In the name of our long standing solidarity, I am instructing Dr. Vien to sign the communiqué, whether or not you will be successful in obtaining the very last change I request.

[Page 341]

In case you will not be able to have that modification, I shall appreciate it greatly if you will make a public declaration, stating the points you described to me in your letter of June 12,4 and adding the points you made to me that we understand “areas of control” to mean “areas under military control”, and that Chapter IV of the Paris Agreement will remain unaffected by this communiqué.


Signed: Nguyen Van Thieu


Proposed Paragraph 10:

A/—The South Vietnamese people shall decide themselves the political future of South Viet-Nam through genuinely free and democratic general elections under international supervision.

B/—The two South Vietnamese parties shall implement Article 11 of the Agreement, which reads as follows:

“Immediately after the cease-fire, the two South Vietnamese parties will:

—Achieve national reconciliation and concord, end hatred and enmity, prohibit all acts of reprisal, discrimination against individuals or organizations that have collaborated with one side or the other;

—Ensure the democratic liberties of the people: personal freedom, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of meeting, freedom of organization, freedom of political activities, freedom of belief, freedom of movement, freedom of residence, freedom of work, right to property ownership and right to free enterprise.”

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; Flash. Sent through the White House.
  2. See Document 81.
  3. DRV officials in Paris refused the change.
  4. Thieu is referring to the letter of June 11, Document 78.