94. Memorandum From the Chief of the U.S. Delegation to the Joint Economic Commission (Williams) to Secretary of State Rogers1


  • USDRV Joint Economic Commission: First Phase of Negotiations
General: With the first phase of its work concluded, the JEC has recessed, probably for an extended period. Negotiations took place in Paris between March 15 and April 19 and again between June 15 and July 23. During the entire period the DRV side was headed by Minister of Finance, Dang Viet Chau, and included Deputy Chairman of the State Planning Commission, Le Khac. In March and April they were joined by Nguyen Co Thach, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs. The DRV negotiators demonstrated consistent determination and personal competence. Relations with them were consistently cordial, except for a brief expression of DRV recrimination related to the April–June suspension of talks by the U.S. My associates on the U.S. Delegation were John Mossler (AID) and Donald Syvrud (Treasury). Dang Viet Chau and I met 42 times—in 15 JEC plenary sessions and 27 private meetings—for well over a hundred hours of negotiating time. Additionally, Mossler and Syvrud participated in 19 technical meetings.
U.S. Negotiating Objectives: The announced purpose of the JEC was to discuss implementation of Article 21 of the Paris Agreement concerning a U.S. contribution to DRV post-war reconstruction. Our overriding political objective was to impress upon and convince the DRV that a direct and reciprocal relationship exists between DRV compliance with Article 20 of the Agreement, concerning Laos and Cambodia, and implementation by the U.S. of the promise contained within Article 21. In practical application of this objective we sought to formulate:
  • —a general five year program of commodities, equipment, and limited third-country procurement to serve as a guide to planning annual proposals for reconstruction assistance, and long-term incentive to promote peaceful settlements in Indochina;
  • —a specific first-year program to respond primarily to certain humanitarian requirements, such as needs for shelter and agricultural rehabilitation, as well as to provide a stimulus for early DRV compliance with the Paris Agreement, chiefly Article 20.
Principles Governing the Negotiations. It was made clear to the DRV, through initial statements and frequent subsequent repetitions, that the U.S. would be guided in the negotiations by certain essential principles. These were:
that DRVN obligations under the Paris Agreement are interrelated and inseparable from the prospect of U.S. reconstruction assistance. Hence, the U.S. would not heed any DRV assertion that the U.S. has a special or absolute obligation under Article 21;
that benefit to the civilian population of the DRVN is to be a main criterion in the selection of programs;
that reconstruction of facilities damaged or neglected during the war is to be an important criterion of proposals developed;
that the nature of any and all conclusions reached by the JEC is that of a recommendation to our respective governments as an agreed basis for planning, and that actual implementation must of necessity await approval of funds by the Congress.
that every effort would be made to minimize adverse effects of proposed programs upon U.S. prices and the U.S. balance of payments.
Conclusions Reached by the JEC: During these negotiations the JEC tentatively agreed on various proposals reflecting the desiderata listed above. Areas of these agreed conclusions were:
outlines of a proposed five year program, with special emphasis on shelter, consumer goods, and agricultural production, as well as elements of general reconstruction such as transport;
specific dimensions of a proposed first-year program, with priority placed on shelter, clothing, pharmaceuticals, and construction [Page 386] materials for rebuilding and including some items for third-country procurement;
modalities of implementation for the proposed first-year program (these modalities consist in the main of established U.S. aid procedures and arrangements);
understandings concerning certain future institutional arrangements if and when funds become available for implementation, such as establishment of a U.S.–JEC representation in Hanoi with diplomatic privileges for its personnel, the nature of a Bilateral Country Agreement which we would seek to conclude, and the importance which information by the DRV about program execution would assume for us.
Present Status of the Negotiations: The tentative proposals listed above are solely in the form of JEC working documents, and no agreed conclusions have been reached. It also was left understood that eventual agreement of the proposals within the Joint Economic Commission would be contingent upon DRV compliance with specific obligations related to Article 20 of the Paris Agreement. Subsequent to such agreement, further steps might consist of presenting the first-year program to Congress and later, assuming funds became available, making first preparations for program implementation.
Maurice J. Williams
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 27–14 VIET. Secret; Sensitive; No Distribution.