141. Minutes of the Secretary of State’s Staff Meeting1

[Omitted here is discussion of Vietnam, Greece, Turkey, Philippines, Latin America, and a cheese dispute between the United States and the European Community.]

[Secretary Kissinger:] Incidentally, Phil, about the Reston article today,2 is there anything we can get from Hanoi, other than a demand for surrender?

Mr. Habib: I haven’t read the article.

Secretary Kissinger: He says we are not using Moscow and Peking as we should.

Mr. Habib: I don’t think we can get anything from Moscow and Peking beyond what Hanoi has offered. What Hanoi has offered at this stage is if the Vietnamese government will change its character, they will be prepared to treat with it—within their definition of what the Paris Agreement calls for.3 That you could have had without the Russians. And maybe you could have had it without the Paris Agreement, but I doubt it.

Secretary Kissinger: You could not have had that—their definition of what the Paris Agreement calls for is exactly what they proposed before. The National Council for Reconciliation is the tripartite group they have been proposing all along; the PRG, those who stand for freedom, peace and independence—which is again the PRG; and other forces. Then that group is going to negotiate with the PRG. So two-thirds of the PRG is going to negotiate with three-thirds of the PRG. It’s going to be a rough negotiation. That is what they proposed before the Paris Accords.

Mr. Habib: If they pursue their military course, and gain the real military upper hand, which is quite possible, that is what they will do. Because that permits them to take it over with an aura of legitimacy.

Secretary Kissinger: Exactly. But there is nothing Moscow and Peking can do.

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Mr. Habib: I don’t think so. If you get to that stage, they may be prepared to facilitate that sort of an arrangement, yes.

Secretary Kissinger: But to make an approach to Moscow and Peking now would just get us kicked in the teeth.

Mr. Habib: It will get you the same answer you have gotten for the last two or three months.

Secretary Kissinger: Do you agree with that?

Mr. Sonnenfeldt: Not necessarily. I don’t know about Peking.

Secretary Kissinger: Well, will you draft what we would say to the Russians, Hal?

Mr. Sonnenfeldt: Yes.

Secretary Kissinger: Seriously.

Mr. Habib: It would be interesting if there were something you could say at the same time to them, if it would move this thing away from the course it is on.

Secretary Kissinger: I would be interested to see it. What would we say?

Mr. Sonnenfeldt: Well, I don’t think anything we say is going to make any difference in Moscow. I think they have to see it in terms of other interests.

Secretary Kissinger: But what would we ask them to do?

Mr. Sonnenfeldt: Well, presumably what you are asking them to do is to stop the fighting and have some kind of a negotiated outcome, which means the end of Thieu in the process—that is clear.

Mr. Habib: You don’t need Moscow to do that.

Mr. Sonnenfeldt: There is a difference between a precondition and an outcome.

Secretary Kissinger: There would be something wrong if we left one of our friends standing.

Mr. Habib: They require it as a precondition.

Secretary Kissinger: The only one we missed is Souvanna Phouma.4

[Omitted here is discussion of the Azores, Sikkim, Vietnamese refugees, and a proposed visit by Egyptian Foreign Minister Fahmy.]

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Lot File 78D443, Transcripts of Secretary of State Kissinger’s Staff Meetings, 1973–1977, Box 6. Secret. According to an attached list, the following officials attended the meeting: Kissinger, Ingersoll, Sisco, Eagleburger, Sonnenfeldt, Davis, Rogers, Habib, Hartman, Atherton, Hyland, Lewis, Katz, Anderson, Vest, Buffum, Leigh, Springsteen, and Bremer.
  2. James Reston, “Where Are Henry’s Friends?” The New York Times, April 16, 1975, p. 38.
  3. Reference is to the agreement to end the war in Vietnam signed in Paris on January 28, 1973, by the United States, South Vietnam, North Vietnam, and the Provisional Revolutionary Government.
  4. Souvanna Phouma remained in office as Prime Minister of Laos until December 2.