Learn about the beta

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

Please deliver following message to Chinese, hopefully before your departure.2 If not possible, please have your secretary deliver at first opportunity.

“The United States side has seen recent reports to the effect that Special Adviser Le Duc Tho may be visiting Peking during the period just before the arrival of President Nixon and his party. If these reports are true and if Special Adviser Le Duc Tho expresses an interest in a [Page 658]private meeting, Dr. Kissinger would be prepared to discuss the situation in Indochina in the spirit of generosity and justice. The Chinese side could count on the meticulous observation of secrecy. This is not a request for any action by the Chinese side and is simply for its information. No reply is expected.

“As the time for President Nixon’s visit to the People’s Republic of China nears, the U.S. side wishes the People’s Republic of China to be aware of the nature of the toast which President Nixon will make at the opening banquet on February 21st. The President’s remarks will be in the spirit of Prime Minister Chou En-lai’s October toast at the banquet for Dr. Kissinger and his party. He will stress the themes of the traditional friendship between the peoples of China and the peoples of the U.S. and the need to make a new beginning between our countries. He will avoid any reference to current disputes, and he will not claim any similarity of views where none exist. This information is being provided now so that the Chinese side will know of the President’s approach to this important initial event.”

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 849, President’s File—China Trip, China Exchanges. Top Secret; Sensitive; Exclusively Eyes Only. A typewritten notation on the document reads: “(Transmitted 2/5/72 for delivery by Gen. Walters on 2/6/72).”
  2. Walters’ undated memorandum for the record reads in full: “On the morning of February 6th I called at the Chinese Embassy in Neuilly and delivered the message which I had received the previous evening and which indicated that we had heard that Le Duc Tho might be visiting China just before President Nixon’s visit and that if he wished to discuss the Indochinese question, Dr. Kissinger would be prepared to meet with him. I was received by Tsao and Wei. Ambassador Huang Chen was not present. I was received cordially and with the usual rites. They promised to transmit this message that afternoon. I told them that I was going to the United States for a few days later that morning. They asked how they could get in touch with our side during my absence. I explained that Miss Ouellette was skiing but if called she could return at once to Paris and transmit any message to our side which they wished but that I myself would be back at the latest Thursday morning February 10th. They seemed fully satisfied with this and cordially wished me Bon Voyage.” (Ibid.)