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119. Letter From the President’s Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs (Haig) to the Defense Attaché in France (Walters)1

Dear Vernon:

Mr. David McManis of Dr. Kissinger’s staff will deliver to you, together with this letter, two documents. The first (at Tab A) is a letter from Dr. Kissinger to Mr. Jean Sainteny 2 and asks him to assist us in a [Page 302]sensitive matter which you will, in turn, explain to him when you deliver the letter. You should, therefore, contact Sainteny, show Henry’s letter to him and ask him to arrange a private meeting between you and the Ambassador to France of the People’s Republic of China or with some other appropriate Senior Chinese Communist representative in Paris. In the meantime, Dr. Kissinger will alert Sainteny by telephone. It is important that Mr. Sainteny merely read Henry’s letter to him and that you reclaim it after he has read its contents. Hopefully. Sainteny will then arrange a private meeting between you and a designated representative of the Chinese.

The second document (at Tab B) is a note which you should subsequently deliver to the designated representative of the People’s Republic.3 The contents of this note should, under no circumstances, be divulged to Mr. Sainteny and you should merely tell Sainteny that you have been instructed to deliver a note, without further explanation of its nature or content.

In sum, we visualize the scenario as follows:

  • —You are to contact Mr. Sainteny who will have been alerted by Henry.
  • —Allow him to read Henry’s letter to him, being sure to reclaim the letter at the end of the meeting and being sure not to divulge the content of the second note which is destined for the Chinese representative. At this meeting, flesh out Henry’s letter by telling Sainteny that we hope he can arrange a private and secure meeting alone between you and an appropriate representative of the People’s Republic assigned to France.
  • —Mr. Sainteny, in turn, will arrange an appropriate secure rendezvous between you and the Chinese representative. At this private meeting, you would then deliver the note at Tab B.

Please keep us posted on the scenario as it unfolds.

Best regards,

Alexander M. Haig, Jr.
Brigadier General, U.S. Army
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 1031, Files for the President—China Material, Exchanges Leading up to HAK’s Trip to China, December 1969–July 1971. Top Secret.
  2. The undated letter to Sainteny reads in its entirety:

    “Dear Jean: Once again, the President and I would like to impose on your invaluable good offices to assist us in a matter of the greatest sensitivity. The bearer of this message, Major General Vernon Walters (our Defense Attaché in Paris), will explain to you our specific need for your intercession. The project is one requiring the kind of skill and delicacy which have characterized your earlier efforts in our behalf and no one, other than the President, myself and General Walters is aware of it. Therefore, it is important that after talking to General Walters you inform no one of the nature of your conversation with him, with the exception of President Pompidou. Both the President and I hope you will find it possible to help. It would increase our already large debt of gratitude to you. Warm regards, Henry A. Kissinger.”

  3. The undated message reads in its entirety:

    “In light of recent events, it seems important to have a reliable channel for communication between our two Governments. If the Government of the People’s Republic of China desires talks that are strictly confidential, the President is ready to establish such a channel directly to him for matters of the most extreme sensitivity. Its purpose would be to bring about an improvement in US-Chinese relations fully recognizing the differences in ideology. On the United States side, such a channel would be known only to the President and his Assistant for National Security Affairs, and would not be revealed to any other foreign country. If you are interested in pursuing this proposal, initial contact should be made with the bearer of this communication, Major General Vernon A. Walters, the U.S. Defense Attaché in Paris. Dr. Henry Kissinger, the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs, would be prepared to come to Paris for direct talks on US-Chinese relations with whomever might be designated by the People’s Republic of China to explore the subject further.”