84. Message to Be Delivered by Major General Vernon A. Walters to the Government of the People’s Republic of China1

The United States Government wishes to continue the exchanges that are taking place through the Ambassadorial talks in Warsaw. However, it is difficult to maintain complete secrecy in these talks due to their formal nature, the large number of officials involved and the great public interest that they have generated.

If the Government of the People’s Republic of China desires talks that are strictly confidential and not known by other countries, the President is ready to establish an alternative channel directly to him for [Page 221] matters of the most extreme sensitivity. Its purpose would be to bring about an improvement in U.S.-Chinese relations fully recognizing differences in ideology.

We are prepared to activate such a channel through the bearer of this communication, Major General Vernon A. Walters, the U.S. Defense Attaché accredited to the French Government in Paris. We are also ready to send a high-level personal representative of the President to Paris, or some other mutually convenient location, for direct talks on U.S.-Chinese relations.

Knowledge of these talks would be confined to the President, his personal advisors, and his personal representative unless otherwise agreed.

  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; Sensitive; Nodis; Eyes Only. A typed note attached to the message reads: “June 16, 1970. Typed version—exactly like this—but without signature—was hand carried by Jim Fazio to General Walters this date w/cover memo which is also in this file.” A copy of the message in the file is signed by the President. Attached but not printed is a June 15 memorandum from Haig to Walters, which reads in full: “Pursuant to your discussions with my friend [apparently Kissinger], attached is the text you should use in your discussions in Paris. As I understand it, you will not hand over this text to the other side but will follow it literally in your discussions. Jim Fazio, who is carrying this memorandum and its enclosure, will also provide you with an additional supply of one time pads.” Fazio, assistant director of the White House Situation Room, delivered this message and Haig’s memorandum to Walters in Paris on June 17. His account of meeting Walters was included in two memoranda from Fazio to Haig, both June 22. (Ibid., Box 1327, Unfiled Material, 1971, 5 of 12) “One-time pads” are sheets of random numbers used for encryption purposes. An account of Sino-American contact in Paris is in Vernon A. Walters, Silent Missions (Garden City, NY: Double-day & Company, 1978). Walters’ account of the timing of these initiatives varies from the documentation printed here.