25. Memorandum of Conversation1
- Dr. Henry A. Kissinger, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
- Ambassador William Sullivan, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs
- Winston Lord, NSC Staff
- John D. Negroponte, NSC Staff
- Peter W. Rodman, NSC Staff
- David A. Engel, NSC Staff, Interpreter
- Irene G. Derus, Notetaker
- Julienne L. Pineau, Notetaker
- Minister Xuan Thuy, Chief DRV Delegate to Paris Peace Talks
- Phan Hien, Adviser to DRV Delegation
- Mr. Thai
- Nguyen Dinh Phuong, Interpreter
- Luu Van Loi
- Tran Quang Co
- Le Bao
Xuan Thuy: [To Ambassador Sullivan] Now you are working in Washington?
Ambassador Sullivan: Unfortunately, yes.
Xuan Thuy: How long?
Ambassador Sullivan: Almost four years now. You haven’t changed very much. I have gotten a little grayer because of Dr. Kissinger, though.[Page 729]
Dr. Kissinger: Look at the Minister. It’s nothing compared to what he has suffered. I thought we had agreed on no reinforcements, and see what you have brought with you.
Mr. Minister, I wanted to make a point before we started, if I could. I reviewed the communication you sent us on Saturday [exchange at Tab A] with the President. And in order to show his good will and serious desire to make progress he makes the following proposal.
With respect to Article 7, he is prepared to restore the original text, with one slight change. That is to say, he would like it to say: “The acceptance of military aid to South Vietnam in the future shall come under the authority of the government set up under Articles 9(a), 9(b) and 9(g).”
And with respect to Article 9(g) he is prepared to drop the last sentence that he proposed. And he’s therefore withdrawing that sentence.
I have one other practical question. We have brought one other secretary with us. She’s waiting outside with a typewriter, and we thought it might speed things if she could be put somewhere, and then as we finish one section she could type it and then we could have a clean version. [To Sullivan] You know he really understands every word that is said to him. [To Xuan Thuy] Is that agreeable to you?
Xuan Thuy: We have arranged a place for a typewriter. We intend to propose the following: We agree to each other that we should complete the text of the agreement today.
Dr. Kissinger: Exactly.
Xuan Thuy: Therefore, each page we have agreed upon then should be typed immediately, and then maybe it shall be retyped later.
Dr. Kissinger: I was afraid he was going to say each page agreed upon should go to the Herald Tribune.
Xuan Thuy: Your side will be in charge of the English text and our side will be in charge of the Vietnamese text. And after the typing we review each page again.
Dr. Kissinger: Exactly, exactly our proposal.
Xuan Thuy: Now how we shall discuss today? On October 12 before leaving we agreed that among the outstanding questions there are two major questions, the return of captured people and the replacement of armaments. Besides, there are changes to be brought to the sentences in the style and the wordings, to be clearer. Ever since, both sides have exchanged messages to add some sentences, to delete some others.
Therefore we propose that we should discuss now the two outstanding major questions, that is to say the return of captured people and the replacement of armaments. Afterward we shall review [it] [Page 730] from the very beginning: the preamble, Chapter I, Chapter II, and so on, and each page we have agreed to we have typewritten. And which point we still differ on, then we discuss and settle.
Dr. Kissinger: I agree to this procedure. I should point out to the Minister, as I said to the Special Adviser, that we have not had an opportunity, as you have had, to discuss with our allies this document. And though we will use maximum influence to persuade them of our views, we have to take into consideration their views. This is the one proviso which I have always made. But we intend to keep to our program. As the Minister knows, I am going to Saigon tonight and we have sent General Abrams there to reinforce our arguments. But there is this problem, but I suggest that we make contingency plans after we have an agreed document.
Xuan Thuy: Now let us begin to discuss point 8, Article 8, Chapter III.
Dr. Kissinger: You have our communication on our proposed amendment to this?
Xuan Thuy: Now we should base ourself on the document agreed upon by our experts the other day. But ever since, there have been messages exchanged and a few sentences have been changed, but we will base ourselves on the document.
Dr. Kissinger: The reason I raised it is because the sentence I propose to add is designed to help your problem, the sentence which says “The two South Vietnamese parties agree to discuss this as soon as possible and do their utmost to resolve this question within three months after the ceasefire comes into effect.” This was intended as a concession.
Xuan Thuy [laughs]: Now let us set aside for the time being the added sentence. In our text, Article 8(a) writes “The return of captured people of the parties.” In your text you write “The return of captured military personnel and innocent civilians of the parties,” etc. So I draw your attention to the words “innocent civilians”—we have stated our views on this, but you still have it. So we should discuss this, “innocent civilians.”
Dr. Kissinger: All right, let’s discuss it.
Xuan Thuy: Now you add a new sentence to the end of paragraph 8(c) as you have just pointed out. Now in your added sentence you propose a period of three months for solving this question. We think that the three-month period is not in accordance with the provisions before, because the return of captured people of the parties, military men as well as civilian personnel, should be carried out within two months, simultaneously with the troop withdrawal. Therefore we propose to maintain our Article 8(a) and 8(b), and there is no need to add your sentence.[Page 731]
Dr. Kissinger: You want to drop 8(c) and you want to maintain 8(a) and (b).
Xuan Thuy: Right.
Dr. Kissinger: Well, as I explained to the Special Adviser last week, this is an issue which is not of direct impact on the United States, because we will have left Vietnam by the time the consequences of these provisions are apparent. The difficulty we now face is that you are first asking that all of your forces can stay in the South—the second is that on top of this you are then asking Saigon to release some 30,000 individuals whom they consider as likely to engage in military activities against Saigon. I have said to the Special Adviser that if I present such a package in Saigon the possibility of our getting agreement in Saigon is very slight, and the probability that we will face a repetition of events in 1968 is very likely. I state this as a fact. If I have to present this, the possibility of keeping our schedule is negligible.
So we have looked for a formula in which we did not have to settle this issue now, but at the same time retain the possibility of using our maximum influence to bring about a favorable result with our ally after a settlement is arranged. And this is the reason why I have proposed Article 8(c) and why I frankly believe that any other arrangement is going to present enormous difficulties.
Xuan Thuy: I feel that the reason you have just given, that the people who will be released may participate again in the conflict against the Saigon Administration, is not tenable, because the PRG on its side are holding a fairly great number of people of the Saigon Administration. When the PRG releases these people, does the PRG fear that these people will fight against the PRG again? And moreover the American pilots, we will release them under this provision and without fear of any kind. And what we demand here is nothing but our agreement, the agreement we have reached, that the release of captured people should be carried out simultaneously with the troop withdrawal.
Dr. Kissinger: But we haven’t reached an agreement. This is why we are talking. The difficulty, Mr. Minister, is what I have already told you. Secondly, it is a matter we have not yet discussed with the government in Saigon. I have had prepared by our own people in Saigon a list of what they know are held, including even criminals. I am sure you are not proposing that everyone be released, because this includes criminals. I also have from them an estimate of who it is conceivable could be released quickly, but it is only an estimate. One of the reasons I am going to Saigon is to make these figures more concrete. Our intent is not that none will be released in two months; our intent in 8(c) would be that first we would try to tell you before it is made final the number that will certainly be released as an act of amnesty, or whatever, and secondly to use our maximum influence to [Page 732] see that the greatest possible number is released. So the choice is not between no one being released and everyone being released. The choice is about some substantial number being released initially and the remainder being released over a two-month period.
Xuan Thuy: I would like to point out two aspects of this question. The other day Special Adviser Le Duc Tho told you very frankly and very earnestly that this is a very great question for the Vietnamese people, for the PRG, for the whole Vietnamese people. Therefore, we should bring about a satisfactory solution to this problem. Moreover, we have repeatedly stated that it is our aim, our policy, to realize national concord in South Vietnam, to end all hatred and enmity, to realize national reconciliation and national concord. For this purpose all captured people should be released so that they may participate in realizing this aim of national reconciliation and concord. That you have agreed to.
If now you disagree to the formulation we have proposed in our text, then we propose that we should repeat here from Article 21(b) of the Geneva Agreement of 1954 on Vietnam the following sentence, an excerpt of the Geneva Agreement. We propose the following sentence: “The return of all people of the parties captured and detained for their participation in any form in the political and armed struggle between the parties shall be carried out simultaneously with and completed on the same day as the troop withdrawal mentioned in Article 5.”
I think that this sentence is acceptable because it is an old formula. It needs no discussion at all. [Dr. Kissinger laughs] It is not I have worked out this sentence; neither have you.
Dr. Kissinger: You probably have worked it out already in 1954!
Xuan Thuy: I partly worked it out in 1954 [laughter], but it is the collective result of the work of the whole conference! I contributed to it.
Dr. Kissinger: As I attempted to explain to the Minister, of all the provisions of this agreement there are few that are going to be considered more within the domestic jurisdiction of the Saigon Government than this one. We have two problems: First, what we can agree to, and second, what will be accepted by the parties. You have pointed out in Laos and Cambodia the difficulties you have to secure rapidly the agreement of your allies. We face the same difficulty. And the only other possibility that I can foresee is that we return here next week after I have been in Saigon, when we can discuss more concretely what we are talking about. We believe this is something we can agree to, together with our assurances to you that we will use our maximum influence. I think we can reduce from three months to two months. This is possible. If we go further, then I recommend another work program. We take your proposal to Saigon, sympathetically, and then work on it here again. This would delay our program by five or six [Page 733] days. But after all we have had a long struggle and we want to see that when it is ended it is ended correctly.
Xuan Thuy: It is my view that this provision is applied to all parties participating in the war. And I think that the content of the provision of the return of captured people during the war includes all captured people, and not a certain number of these people. So far we have made a great deal of effort and have solved a great number of important questions. Therefore we should not leave behind this question. I think that today both sides should endeavor to do their utmost to solve this question today. And we propose to repeat Article 21(b) of the Geneva Agreement of 1954; I think it is a reasonable proposal. This sentence we have proposed includes all captured people.
But since you want to make a distinction between innocent civilians and other kinds of people and you disagree to the proposed sentence we have made, then we propose another formula to take into account your desire to make a distinction between innocent civilians and other people. For instance I propose the following: “The return of the military personnel of the parties captured and detained in Vietnam, people of the parties captured and detained for political reasons in South Vietnam, and innocent civilians captured and detained in South Vietnam shall be carried out simultaneously with and completed on the same day as the troop withdrawal mentioned in Article 5.”
So we can choose one of these two formulations if you disagree to our first proposal. The formula in the Geneva Agreement does not make this distinction, but the second proposal of ours makes the distinction between military personnel captured during the war, people captured for political reasons, and innocent civilians.
Dr. Kissinger: Which category does it exclude, then?
Xuan Thuy: Here there is a distinction between people of the parties captured and detained for having participated in the political or military struggle. Now these people should be released.
Dr. Kissinger: That’s what the Geneva Agreement said.
Xuan Thuy: People from the Saigon Administration the PRG should release. The Saigon Administration should do the same. American pilots captured during the war should be released also within two months.
Dr. Kissinger: I see no difference, frankly, between your last formula and the Geneva Accord formula. It has the same practical consequence. What position do you take with respect to people who have criminal sentences and who will be alleged to have violated laws?
Xuan Thuy: What criminals do you mean? For instance?
Dr. Kissinger: Supposing somebody has shot at a police officer and has been sentenced?[Page 734]
Xuan Thuy: Then we should go into the content of the case to see why this man shot the policeman. Because if now an attack was launched in the city, at a post in the city, during the wartime to oppose the other side—as I told you so many occasions that the war in South Vietnam is a people’s war. Therefore, the forms of struggle are very varied. You see during the resistance war against the French the forms of struggle were very varied, very multiform. It is difficult to make a distinction but it is clear that there are people who participate in the struggle by political or military forms. The form of the struggle is very varied and very complicated. In spite of this fact the Geneva Agreements could settle this satisfactorily. The fact is now the two parties have opposed each other by regular forces, guerrilla forces and others, by paramilitary forces, by political struggle in the countryside. So what I propose now is to implement a provision whereby the people captured of the parties, military or civilian, should be released.
Dr. Kissinger: I understand the proposal, and as I pointed out to you Mr. Minister, we have two problems. Problem number 1 is we do not want our prisoner release to be related to the performance of Vietnamese parties whose confidence in each other has not been historically very high, and whose ability to try to discover nuances in these texts has been well demonstrated in these meetings. So if after the agreement were signed new discussions would start about the release of our prisoners, this would have disastrous consequences in the United States. It would certainly lead to the breakdown of any agreement we have made.
Now secondly, there is the difficulty we will face when we visit Saigon, and I am attempting to have an agreement which has the probability of being accepted. You, I am told—I don’t know how true this is—are not without sources of information about what goes on in Saigon. And therefore you will know that I will not be greeted as a national hero when I arrive there tomorrow morning. That is a fact—I am not arguing it—I am describing objective reality.
So we can do one of two things. We can either stick with what we have, shorten it to two months, with an undertaking by us to you that we would certainly bring about a very substantial release—and give you that number before the agreement goes into effect—during the period of the withdrawals.
And a second undertaking from us that we would use our maximum influence to bring about a satisfactory resolution during the two months for the remainder. Or we can write down one of the versions of the Geneva Agreement and take it to Saigon, with the possibility of meeting here again at this time next week if we run into major difficulties—which I am certain we shall.
Xuan Thuy: Dr. Kissinger said that you have difficulties with respect to the Saigon Administration, and we understand that. But I [Page 735] think that you should understand that we, too, we have difficulty with respect to the PRG, to our people, both in North Vietnam and South Vietnam. Moreover, now we have agreed that we should end enmity and hatred, we should realize national reconciliation and national concord. If now people of the parties are not released after the agreement becomes effective, then how can we realize our objective of national reconciliation and national concord? On the contrary, the keeping behind of captured people will be the seeds, the origin, of continued hatred and enmity. And I have said also, let us now put an end to the war, usher in a period of lasting peace, open up a new era of new relationships. And in this spirit, as the DRV and the U.S. sit together for this negotiation, we have in mind a clear conscience [consciousness] of our responsibility with respect to this question. And therefore among our proposals I think that formulas in keeping with the provision of the Geneva Agreement is something logical and reasonable. It is a formulation worked out by all the countries participating in the Geneva Conference. And therefore I think we should settle this problem here.
Dr. Kissinger: All right, first of all let me say that I have occasionally accused the Minister and sometimes the Special Adviser of being unreasonable in their concerns. I recognize that this is a profound human problem for you. So I am approaching it not without sympathy for your point of view but from a desire to find a practical resolution, in order to bring a more rapid end to the war. And from this point of view we believe that, just as in the political field we have had to separate the political aspects for later resolution, so, painful as it may be, we may have to separate some aspects of the detained people and leave it for later resolution by the parties. Now we can consider stating what is contained in Article 21(b) as an objective, as a guideline to the parties that they should implement. That is a possibility we can consider. And I am also prepared to put [forward] your proposal—without necessarily our recommendation—on my trip and see what the reaction will be. But I am quite certain that I know what it is.
Xuan Thuy: Now please imagine we both want to end the war and to bring about lasting peace; you want that the Vietnam people will wipe out all hatred and enmity. Now a ceasefire will be observed, an agreement will be implemented, and the Saigon Administration does not release all people of the PRG, keeping behind a number of them, and the PRG does not release all the people of the Saigon Administration, keeping a number behind, even a number of American personnel . . .
Dr. Kissinger: That’s out of the question.
Xuan Thuy: What will be the result? Seeds for continuation of hatred and enmity.
Dr. Kissinger: Well, two points: We will under no circumstances leave Vietnam or negotiate an agreement without assurances that all [Page 736] the American prisoners will be released. This is a fact of life which the President repeated yesterday. On that issue absolutely no compromise is possible.
Secondly, the choice is not between releasing nobody and releasing everybody. Of course all military prisoners from the North will be released, a substantial number of civilian personnel will also be released, and a major effort will be made to bring about the release of everyone else, both by the parties and by the maximum influence of the United States. And of course also military personnel from the PRG.
Xuan Thuy: Now please think: for American prisoners you want them to be totally released, but for people of our side on the PRG you don’t want them to be released totally in keeping with provisions applied for both sides. Then how can we call it fairness, how can we call it humanity? As to what you call concession, I should point out that previously you [we] demand that both questions should be settled simultaneously. But now we have come to an agreement that we should settle definitely the military questions. As to the political questions we shall agree only the main principles and we refer the political question for the discussion of the two South Vietnam parties to seek a settlement. We have shown great flexibility and reasonableness. But now there is only one question left, the question of the release of people captured during the war. We, we are prepared to release all your people, but you are not prepared to do the same. How can you call it fairness and humanity?
Dr. Kissinger: Well, as I have pointed out to the Minister, the conditions that bear on the civilians in South Vietnam bear some relation to the conditions that caused us to separate the political and the military questions. I recognize that the DRV side has made major moves in recent weeks and I recognize they were not easy. In a spirit of moving from a position of hostility to where we can visualize a position of friendship. We have in the last four days made significant progress.
This problem of civilians in the South is, firstly, not in our control. It is, secondly, closely related to the political question in the South. It will raise all sorts of questions of definition of what is criminal and what is political activity. It means all sorts of complexities. This is an objective difficulty. It is our desire to speed an agreement that has caused us to propose this formulation. American pilots that have been captured in Vietnam, we can give you every assurance that they will never be in military activity in Vietnam again. The question of civilian personnel is of a different order, and it is for this reason that we propose paragraph (c), or some variation. But it is conceivable to me that we could accept paragraph 21(b) as an objective which is then to be negotiated by the two parties and within the time frame we have mentioned.
Xuan Thuy: Let me say this. First, the question of released people of the parties captured during the war is a question to be implemented [Page 737] within two months simultaneously with troop withdrawal. It is not a question concerning the two South Vietnamese parties. Moreover, in the Geneva Conference of 1954 the Conference came to the formula of Article 21(b). When they reached this provision they did not consider which category of prisoner belongs to political prisoners, which one is the category of military prisoner. But they agreed to this sentence, and the parties concerned will discuss how to implement this provision and decide which kind of prisoner is to be released.
But I propose this. For now we can’t agree on this question. We should leave it aside for the time being, discuss another problem and in the meantime we shall think over it and return to it later.
Dr. Kissinger: That’s a good idea.
Xuan Thuy: We discuss now the question of military aid and of replacements. Now regarding Article 7, both the question of military aid and question of replacement of weapons.
Dr. Kissinger: Yes.
Xuan Thuy: Now regarding Article 7, please read your amendment to the first paragraph of Article 7.
Dr. Kissinger: Well, we had first proposed to delete it altogether, but then I showed the message that was sent to us to the President. So he proposes the following: “The acceptance of military aid in the future shall come under the authority of the government set up under the authority of 9(b) and 9(g) of this agreement.” It is almost the same as what we had.
Xuan Thuy: What is your idea when you propose to delete the word “definitive” and to delete the part of the sentence saying “after the general elections in South Vietnam.”
Dr. Kissinger: Because basically this problem should be discussed in Article 9. This article discusses only the question of cessation of hostilities and we don’t want this article to discuss any particular political provision, since they are discussed in much greater detail under Article 9.
Xuan Thuy: Now you proposed previously to delete the first paragraph of Article 7?
Dr. Kissinger: Yes.
Xuan Thuy: . . . because it deals with the political questions, then we propose to put this paragraph at the end of Article 9(i).
Dr. Kissinger: I understand. And it would then read what?
Xuan Thuy: So after the words “South Vietnam will accept economic and technical aid from any country with no political conditions attached,” we add the sentence, “the acceptance of military aid in the future will come under the authority of the government . . .”[Page 738]
Dr. Kissinger: Well, we can accept this if we leave out the word “definitive.” You didn’t read the word “definitive,” but I don’t want to take advantage of the only inadvertance the Minister has committed in four years of contact with me!
Xuan Thuy: I propose: “Acceptance of military aid to South Vietnam in the future shall come under the authority of the definitive government . . .”
Dr. Kissinger: [laughs] Well, I accept this, with the deletion of the word “definitive.”
Xuan Thuy: “Government set up after the general elections in South Vietnam.”
Dr. Kissinger: I accept that. Can we . . . We want to substitute one word.
Xuan Thuy: So this first paragraph we put at end of Article 9(i).
Dr. Kissinger: Yes. Could we substitute one word? It is strictly stylistic: “The acceptance of military aid by South Vietnam” rather than “to South Vietnam.” Yours is better French, and ours is better English!
Xuan Thuy: Agreed.
For the second paragraph, I propose to add one more word. I read it: “From the enforcement of the ceasefire to the formation of the definitive government the two South Vietnamese parties shall not accept any military aid and the introduction of troops, military advisers, etc.” So I propose to add “military aid” after “accept.”
Dr. Kissinger: Well, first of all, since we have moved the preceding paragraph it doesn’t make any sense now to speak of the definitive government in the first clause. So I think we should say “From the enforcement of the ceasefire the two South Vietnamese parties . . .” Or if you want to say “From the cessation of hostilities until,” “From the enforcement of the ceasefire until the formation of the government provided for in Article 9(g) and 9(b) . . .” Oh, it’s 9(b) and 9(i).
Xuan Thuy: “Of this agreement.”
Dr. Kissinger: “Of this agreement.” I have just conceded three words to the Minister. I demand reciprocity!
Xuan Thuy: I have made many concessions.
Dr. Kissinger: Of course I hope the Minister has noted that Ambassador Porter’s adjectives have been much more restrained lately. He’s impatiently waiting for him. [Laughter]
All right, “From the enforcement of the ceasefire until formation of the government provided . . .” All right.
Now, let us finish the rest of it. I will reserve judgment on the “military and” point until see what else the Minister has got in his portfolio here in front of him.[Page 739]
Xuan Thuy: Now the last paragraph of this article, regarding the replacement of weapons. In your text you write “after the cessation of hostilities the two parties shall be permitted to make periodic replacements of armaments, munitions, and war matériel equal in quantity and of the same characteristics as the equipment replaced.” We write: “After the cessation of hostilities the two parties shall be permitted to make replacements on the principle of equality between the two parties.”
Dr. Kissinger: Yes, I understand, but as I explained to the Special Adviser, the replacement problem has to be seen in relation to the equipment as it is being used up, the rate it is being used up, which is related to its characteristics. What we have done is to put into different language the provisions of Article 17(b) of the Geneva Agreement—which was no doubt drafted by the Minister himself! If he would prefer his own text we would be glad to put that in! We will be prepared to put in here the precise language of Article 17(b), which is somewhat more exact than what we have.
Xuan Thuy: We feel that the principle of equality between the two parties is more suitable, because the situation is different now.
Dr. Kissinger: In what way?
Xuan Thuy: Because the French at that time no longer wanted to be involved in Indochina again.
Dr. Kissinger: In contrast to . . .?
Xuan Thuy: But now you want to increase the weaponry of the Saigon Administration while you want to keep behind our people captured by the Saigon Administration. And while you said that the Saigon authorities are afraid that once they are released the people of the PRG will rejoin the liberation armed forces to fight against the Saigon Administration, and so it is linked with the question of the replacement of armaments proposed here. You want to secure an advantage in this question. And our intention is that all captured people of the parties should be completely, totally released, to wipe out all hatred and enmity. We should do it in such a way so that all armed forces of the parties should be reduced, to bring a lasting peace.
Dr. Kissinger: Well, we have agreed to the section about the reduction of armed forces and we will of course adhere to that. We accept the fact that there should be no increasing and no additions. We will accept the fact that there can be no increase. But there can be decreases.
Xuan Thuy: But the result will practically be an increase of strength for the Saigon Administration.
Dr. Kissinger: Why?
Xuan Thuy: If you propose now to write this provision as written in Article 17(b) of the Geneva Agreement . . .[Page 740]
Dr. Kissinger: Yes.
Xuan Thuy: Then we propose to write the provision regarding the captured people of the parties in accordance with the Geneva Agreement, Article 21(b). But on the basis of what has been written with respect to the replacement of arms, this paragraph may be phrased as follows. If you agree to the formulation regarding the prisoners as has been written in the Geneva Agreement, then the paragraph regarding the replacement of arms may be written as follows: “The two parties will be permitted to replace weapons, munitions and war matériels damaged and worn out after the ceasefire on the principle of piece-for-piece and same characteristics and properties.” And quantity to be replaced will be settled by the Commission.
Dr. Kissinger: Well, that’s the same thing you had before, because they are operating on the principle of unanimity and they are not likely to be unanimous on each other’s requirements. I think if national concord reaches the point where they are unanimous about each other’s requirements, the problems will all be solved and the replacement problem will no longer exist! [Laughter]
As a practical matter there is no question that under conditions of peace the rate of supply by the United States will be much lower than they are under present conditions, under any formula.
Xuan Thuy: You are afraid that the Joint Commission will not come to unanimous agreement.
Dr. Kissinger: Yes, that is my . . . [Laughter]
Xuan Thuy: And that weapons will continue to be introduced from outside into South Vietnam. And both sides have their respective sovereignty. Then how will you solve this?
Dr. Kissinger: I agree that the Joint Commission and International Commission can monitor that what is introduced does not exceed the needs of replacement. That I’ll accept. In other words, it should be notified that a certain amount of equipment is being replaced and it then can monitor that we are not replacing rifles with artillery. So the two parties should notify the Commission of new replacements that are being undertaken and the Commission can then verify that it is in fact a replacement.
Xuan Thuy: Now let us return to the question of prisoners. Do you agree to write this provision as in the Geneva Agreement? Because it is linked to the question of replacements.
Dr. Kissinger: I understand what the Special Adviser [sic] is saying. The difficulty is the question of the replacement of weapons is largely under our control, and we would carry it out scrupulously. But the question of the release of prisoners is not at all under our control, and therefore it is very difficult for me to put into the agreement something [Page 741] which I am not sure I can deliver on. I am prepared, however, to state the provisions of Article 21(b) as an objective, the details of which will be carried on by the South Vietnamese parties in a spirit of concord and so forth.
Xuan Thuy: I feel that if we can agree with each other to write the provisions of the Geneva Agreement regarding the release of prisoners without waiting for the decision of Saigon, then the question of replacement of weapons we can consider it. I think we have decided that the two South Vietnamese parties should no longer eliminate each other or try to eliminate each other, should mutually respect each other, should settle all matters through negotiations and agreements. I am convinced that if these principles are applied then the two-party Joint Commission should come to an agreement.
Dr. Kissinger: On what? On the prisoners?
Xuan Thuy: If the principles are applied the two-party Joint Commission can agree on the replacement of weapons. Because we have been working here in a spirit of bringing about lasting peace and ushering in a new era of new relationship. And we have the responsibility to make the two South Vietnamese parties work in the same spirit.
Dr. Kissinger: And we will do our best to exercise our influence in that direction. But we cannot accept and cannot explain to the American people a document in which we withdraw our forces, with no written provision for the withdrawal of North Vietnamese forces, and in which the replacement of used-up equipment by South Vietnam is subject to a veto by the other side.
That is so grossly unfair, so unequal, that we cannot accept it, and I believe that on that point we have reached the limit of what we can concede. But we have told you also, and we stand by our word, that if this settlement is maintained in the spirit in which it was written and the spirit which we are trying to generate, if the relationships between the DRV and the United States develop in the way we are trying to guarantee, then you will see that the introduction of replacements will become a much less serious problem than it appears to you today.
Xuan Thuy: So what are you proposing to write with respect to Article 21(b)?
Dr. Kissinger: With regard to 21(b) my proposal is that we say something like—I haven’t drafted it yet—“The question of the release of other South Vietnamese civilian personnel not covered by 8(a) above will be resolved by the South Vietnamese parties according to the provisions of Article 21(b) of the Geneva Accords. They will do so in a spirit of national reconciliation and concord as soon as possible and do their utmost to resolve this question within three months after the ceasefire comes into effect.”[Page 742]
In addition, of course, after my visit to Saigon I can inform you of the number of prisoners that will be released in the two months period in any event, without negotiation, unconditionally. And in addition you have our assurance that we will use our maximum influence in seeing that this clause will be implemented.
Xuan Thuy: Please give us written formulation of this article. Because our intention is that regarding Article 8(a) we disagree to the word “innocent civilians,” and moreover we propose to delete Article 8(c) and to replace it by the Article 21(b) of the Geneva Agreement. So please rewrite: “And all military and civilian personnel of the parties should be released within two months simultaneously with the troop withdrawal.”
Now I propose this. Let us have a break to think about these two questions, and you can give us written formulations for these two questions, release of prisoners and military replacements.
Dr. Kissinger: We will maintain our position on 8(a) and (b) and give new formulation for 8(c) and for the last paragraph of 7.
[The meeting broke for lunch from 12:55–1:55 p.m.]
Dr. Kissinger: Are all of these gentlemen from your regular party, or have you brought in reinforcements from Hanoi? [Laughter]
Xuan Thuy: If there is such reinforcements you are not opposed, because it is not military reinforcements! [Laughter]
Dr. Kissinger: As long as they are the same type and with similar characteristics. [Laughter] Mr. Lord says we should have the right to look at the worn-out and damaged personnel they are replacing. [Laughter]
[Dr. Kissinger hands over a new second paragraph of Article 7, Tab B. Mr. Phuong translates it into Vietnamese.]
Dr. Kissinger: It replaces the second paragraph.
Mr. Phuong: [Rereads second paragraph, Article 7 in English] “It is understood, however, that war matériel, arms and munitions which have been destroyed, damaged, worn out or used up after the cessation of hostilities may be replaced on the basis of piece-for-piece of the same type and with similar characteristics.”
[Then reads new 8(c), Tab C]: “The question of other Vietnamese civilian personnel detained in South Vietnam and not covered by 8(a) above will be resolved by the South Vietnamese parties on the basis of the principles of Article 21(b) of the Agreement on the Cessation of Hostilities in Vietnam of July 20, 1954. They will do so in a spirit of national reconciliation and concord; with a view to ending hatred and enmity; in order to ease suffering and to reunite families. The two South Vietnamese parties will do their utmost to resolve this question within two months after the ceasefire comes into effect.”[Page 743]
Xuan Thuy: I feel that this amended Article 8(c) is no great difference from what it was before. Because if you want to speak of the innocent civilians you should also speak of the people captured for political reasons. All people who oppose the other side by military activities or political activities, all these people should be released. Moreover, the Democratic Republic of Vietnam and the United States are: negotiating here with responsibility to work out the agreement with a view to ending the war and restoring peace in Vietnam. Therefore, we should not say that this question will be resolved by the South Vietnamese parties. Therefore we propose two formulas: The first to take the Geneva Agreement provisions, or if you want to mention about the innocent civilians, then there should be mentioned people also captured for their military activities or political activities.
Dr. Kissinger: I understand the proposal of the Minister. My difficulty is that until I have been in Saigon I really have no realistic judgment of what I will face there. Maybe one way of handling your problem is to delay our schedule by a week, to finish everything else, then meet here again next Wednesday, and by that time if there are any other points in Saigon I can take them up and then we would repeat the same process and I would arrive in Hanoi the following week. It would delay it only six days.
Xuan Thuy: Your trip to Saigon is your own affair. As to your trip to Hanoi, we have arranged for this trip. But how you will go there is another question we shall discuss, but our job now is to complete the text of the agreement. I propose that we set aside for the time being the question of replacement of weapons and the release of the prisoners. We shall review the agreement from the very beginning and we shall return to this discussion later. [Xuan Thuy and Mr. Hien confer.]
Dr. Kissinger: Does he have a right to participate in these discussions? I think he is a troublemaker.
Mr. Hien: Peacemaker!
Xuan Thuy: His name is Mr. Hien. In Vietnamese it means gentle, kind, sweet.
Dr. Kissinger: Unfortunately subtle.
Xuan Thuy: Let us begin now. Shall we read the first page?
Dr. Kissinger: Now we have this suggestion with respect to the first page. I told you that I do not know whether maybe Saigon would prefer to sign the agreement, and therefore, we have prepared a version which could be used for the four foreign ministers to sign the agreement rather than just the two. We would like to get your permission to explore this in Saigon and adopt whichever is more acceptable there. I had the impression from the Special Adviser that it made no difference to you. Or four could sign simultaneously.[Page 744]
Xuan Thuy: As far as we are concerned, primarily the agreement should be signed by the Democratic Republic of Vietnam and the United States foreign ministers. As to the agreement being signed by four foreign ministers, if this could be done it is good. If this could not be done it is all right.
Dr. Kissinger: This is why we want to propose the two possible texts; one when it is signed by two and the other if it is signed by four. The text you have, we have here.
Xuan Thuy: I thought that last time we have agreed on the Preamble. Now you want to change it.
Dr. Kissinger: No, if it is done by the two foreign ministers we want to add only one sentence. I don’t think you will object to it. Before the last sentence it would say “with the concurrence of those other parties affected by this agreement,” and then “have agreed on the following provisions.” Otherwise it is acceptable. This is to take care of the Koreans. This is to take care of the Poles, the Hungarians. It is to take care of those.
Xuan Thuy: The first paragraph unchanged. The second one unchanged. The third unchanged.
Dr. Kissinger: Yes, except you always object when we say “South Vietnamese” and you say “South Vietnam.” Yours just isn’t grammatical in English. It just doesn’t make any sense. In fact, “South Vietnam people” isn’t a word. [Thuy and Hien confer.] I am sure Mr. Hien has a very subtle point. But we will accept it, but we will just say “South Vietnamese people.”
The reason we want to say “concurrence” is because we have four members in the International Commission, we have Korean forces that have to be withdrawn, and similar things.
Xuan Thuy: For this sentence because it does involve Hungary or Poland.
Dr. Kissinger: It involves Hungary, Poland, Indonesia and Canada.
Xuan Thuy: Yes, for that reason I think that this sentence is not necessary, because this agreement is signed by our two sides. As to the member countries of the International Commission, after the signing of the agreement we shall invite them to participate in the International Commission of Control and Supervision or to participate in the international guarantee conference. Therefore we should keep . . .
Dr. Kissinger: Then how about the Koreans?
Xuan Thuy: As for the South Koreans, there have been provisions regarding them, “countries allied to the United States and to the Republic of Vietnam.”
Dr. Kissinger: The Minister is terribly meticulous about his relations with his allies and but not terribly generous about our relations with [Page 745] ours. I can’t sign an agreement for the Koreans without asking them whether they want to carry it out. It isn’t in your interest that we do that. But we can perhaps leave them out of the agreement, if you want.
Xuan Thuy: It is a new problem. We will let it aside.
Dr. Kissinger: Besides, the Special Adviser has told me that you have already approached Hungary and Poland.
Xuan Thuy: We have asked them, but it is another question. It is not a reason to add a new sentence. In the Geneva Agreements of 1962 and 1954 there was not such a sentence.
Dr. Kissinger: But maybe there were no parties affected by it that were not signing it. I don’t understand.
Xuan Thuy: If it is a subject of your concern then you should put this idea in the first sentence “The Government of the United States with the concurrence of the Republic of Vietnam and other countries allied to the US participating in the Vietnam War.”
Dr. Kissinger: But what is your objection to our formulation? I didn’t think this was controversial.
Xuan Thuy: Because if your reason is that this agreement will affect the member countries of the International Commission, of the countries participating in the international guarantee conference, then this sentence should not be put here, because once the Democratic Republic of Vietnam and the United States have signed the agreement, then we shall invite the countries concerned to participate in the International Commission or the international guarantee conference. If your concern is about the South Korean troops in South Vietnam, then you should put this idea in the first paragraph saying that “the Government of the United States of America with the concurrence of the Government of the Republic of Vietnam and other countries allied to the United States and participating in the Vietnam War.” It is to answer your proposal. But as to us we shall keep the Preamble.
Dr. Kissinger: Let me say two things: One, your solution here is not going to be possible, because if we list it “with the concurrence of the Republic of Vietnam and other countries allied to the Government of the United States” it makes us the principal party of the Vietnam war and lists the Government of Vietnam as only one of the countries allied to the US. That I think will be totally unacceptable in Saigon.
Xuan Thuy: Therefore you should keep the Preamble as it was.
Dr. Kissinger: Let us agree on this: We will keep the Preamble as it is. Our principal concern is the Koreans. If the Koreans insist on some form of formal association, we will have to come back to you and ask for some assistance on getting them associated.
Xuan Thuy: Please look at the article dealing with the troop withdrawal. It says “All United States and other foreign countries allied to the United States.”[Page 746]
Dr. Kissinger: Yes, but it does not indicate that Korea has associated itself with this. This is a document signed by the United States and the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, and it gives the impression that we have the right to order Korean troops around the world.
Xuan Thuy: [Smiling] That is a fact.
Dr. Kissinger: It (A) isn’t a fact, and (B) we won’t record it that way in a document.
Xuan Thuy: So in this first page you wanted to add a new sentence that we consider to be unclear.
Dr. Kissinger: Well, we can make it clearer. We also want the option if four parties are to sign it that you consider this formula. Now if four parties are to sign it, then we will be prepared to add at the end of the first paragraph “with the concurrence of the other allies.” Then it will be easy. Then we have no problem and then you can drop that sentence “with the concurrence.”
Your colleague, Mr. Engel has some problems. [Dr. Kissinger and Mr. Engel discuss the problem and Dr. Kissinger explains.] If four parties sign, then we can say “the Government of the United States of America and the Government of the Republic of Vietnam, with the concurrence of the Governments allied with them.” Then we can drop it down here [listing each side in a separate paragraph].
Xuan Thuy: Whether the four parties sign the agreement or not is another question. Let us set aside this question.
Dr. Kissinger: We cannot refuse Saigon the right to sign it if they want to sign it.
Xuan Thuy: If they want to sign.
Dr. Kissinger: Well, then if they want to sign it, then we need the right formulation, and in that case the proposal of concurrence is an easier formula.
Xuan Thuy: We have no objection to Saigon signing the agreement. We have to set aside this question.
Dr. Kissinger: But then the Preamble has to be changed.
Xuan Thuy: And let us set aside the case where the agreement may be signed by two sides only. If the two sides sign the agreement I propose to keep the Preamble as it is.
Dr. Kissinger: In that case we will have to find some formula for associating Korea to it. Let us explore the juridical means by which we can do it. Let us tentatively accept this text for two signatures and we will explore the means of associating Korea other than through the Preamble. But if we have difficulties you must let us come back to you and you will receive it with your usual good will. But we will try our best. We can do it through a note maybe.[Page 747]
Xuan Thuy: Let us approve then the Preamble and let us begin Chapter I and we shall go chapter by chapter.
Dr. Kissinger: All right.
Xuan Thuy: Chapter I, the Vietnamese People’s Fundamental Right, National Right, Article 1: “The United States respects the independence, sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of Vietnam as recognized by the 1954 Geneva Agreements on Vietnam.” The only difference here is the English word “established” and “recognized.”
Dr. Kissinger: I will accept “recognized.” I have one suggestion for clarification: “As recognized by paragraph 12 of the Final Declaration of the 1954 Geneva Conference on Vietnam.” We will be glad to add “drafted by Minister Xuan Thuy!”
“As recognized by Article 12.” That is exactly what Article 12 says. Paragraph 12.
Xuan Thuy: You have agreed to the word “recognized”.
Dr. Kissinger: Yes, but we just want to make clear to what it refers. We will accept “recognized” with this formulation.
Xuan Thuy: You refer to paragraph 12 of the Final Declaration. It deals with the whole of Indochina. But specifically for Vietnam is said in Article 7 of the Geneva Agreements.
Dr. Kissinger: But obviously since we are here recognizing only the territorial integrity of Vietnam, and since Article 12 mentions Vietnam, that is all we need for this purpose. We are not talking about Laos and Cambodia. We will say “the sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of Vietnam as recognized by . . .” Paragraph 12 may have mentioned other things too, but that’s not part of it.
Xuan Thuy: It is not necessary to add what you have proposed. The previous phrasing is already clear, adequate.
Dr. Kissinger: Well, you know we also thought “establish” was clear for us, and we accepted “recognized.”
Xuan Thuy: So if you accept “recognized” there is no need to have anything else.
Dr. Kissinger: [Laughing] I would say if you would accept paragraph 12 there is no need to add “recognized.” So I propose that we combine both of our views!
Xuan Thuy: I propose this: In your English text you can use the word “established” and in the Vietnamese text we will use “recognized.”
Dr. Kissinger: No, that is a bad thing. We are doing that too often.
Xuan Thuy: I intended the old sentence, and now you want to add something to that. The sentence shall remain as it is.[Page 748]
Dr. Kissinger: I notice the Minister now addressing Mr. Engel directly. You have finally figured out the power structure in our delegation!
Xuan Thuy: I propose to maintain the sentence as it is.
Dr. Kissinger: As “established.”
Xuan Thuy: In the Vietnamese text we use the word meaning “recognize”, but in the English you can . . .
Dr. Kissinger: No, we have to have texts that conform. Because I have some nice sentences I would like to slip into the text! We will accept “as recognized,” but we hope you show us some understanding for some of our later problems. You can’t take the position that everything that is written down can’t be changed, because then we wouldn’t have to meet.
Xuan Thuy: Thank you for having accepted making a concession to me on what you have agreed to the other day.
Dr. Kissinger: No, “recognized” we had not agreed to.
Xuan Thuy: Let us go to Chapter II and we can have Chapter I typewritten.
Dr. Kissinger: We have a change for the sake of precision. In the second paragraph of Article 2 “in the same hour the United States will stop all its military activities against the territory of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam.” “Territory.”
Xuan Thuy: Only this word.
Dr. Kissinger: Only this word, for precision. And we would like to say “against the waters, etc., of North Vietnam,” rather than “of the DRV.” In English the Democratic Republic is a government and North Vietnam is a country.
Xuan Thuy: For my part I would like to add “at the same hour, the United States will stop all its military activities including reconnaissance activities, against the Democratic Republic of Vietnam.”
Dr. Kissinger: “Military activities” includes reconnaissance activities.
Xuan Thuy: Shall we put “including reconnaissance activities,” in brackets?
Dr. Kissinger: No, but I will say at the first press briefing publicly that we include reconnaissance activities in it. I assure you we will stop reconnaissance activities with this provision. You can write it in your protocol. You can take note of this. This is why we use the word “military activities.” And you can employ me when our generals run me out of the country!
Xuan Thuy: After the declaration of peace we have a great deal to do over here! I agree to add the word “territory,” but I would propose to add another word: “against the territory and the security of the DRV.”[Page 749]
Dr. Kissinger: It depends how you define your security. No, I think the only safe thing is to say “the territory,” but if you want to keep the word “Democratic Republic of Vietnam” at the end that is not a big thing to us.
Xuan Thuy: There is no confusion possible if we keep “the Democratic Republic of Vietnam.”
Dr. Kissinger: That is fine. I agree.
Xuan Thuy: All right. The last sentence of Article 2, “The complete cessation of hostilities mentioned in this article is durable and without the limit of time” in the English text. In the Vietnamese text it is “stable and durable ceasefire.” The same meaning.
Dr. Kissinger: Why can’t you say “without limit of time.”
Xuan Thuy: It is literate only, because in Vietnamese if we say “without limit” it does not sound as well. “Lasting” is of equivalent meaning in Vietnamese.
Dr. Kissinger: Then why don’t you write down the equivalent meaning?
Xuan Thuy: It is literary. It does not sound right. It is not the common language.
Dr. Kissinger: Well, “limit of time” I don’t use it five times a day either in English.
Xuan Thuy: We have no objection to your using it.
Dr. Kissinger: Can you say instead of “durable”, “permanent”?
Xuan Thuy: The Vietnamese word is an imported word, not a Vietnamese word.
Dr. Kissinger: There is nothing permanent in Vietnam?
Xuan Thuy: It is a foreign word imported to Vietnam.
Dr. Kissinger: From what language?
Xuan Thuy: From Han, from Chinese.
Dr. Kissinger: How about “definitive”? No, that doesn’t give you the time. “Permanent” is the best word, but you can say “eternal” if that is the best word in Vietnamese! You don’t have to use “without limit of time.” You can say “indefinite duration,” “unlimited,” anything of that kind. “Unlimited duration.”
Xuan Thuy: “Durable and long-lasting” is very clear in Vietnamese.
Dr. Kissinger: I am sure it is clear, but that is what worries us. I don’t want the Minister to come to me ten days from now and say for us Vietnamese ten days is an eternity! In English “without limit of time” makes it perfectly clear that there is no limit to the ceasefire. “Durable” is a general hope.
Xuan Thuy: I think there is nothing to discuss about the words you use.[Page 750]
Dr. Kissinger: I like the Minister’s method of negotiation. If there is nothing to be discussed, why did you raise it?
Xuan Thuy: The experts the other day exchanged their views and proposed that the Vietnamese will write in words right for the Vietnamese. In the English text you will use the word “durable and the limit of time.”
Dr. Kissinger: That’s the last time that Mr. Lord will be sent on negotiations. Let us record in the protocol the following: That the Vietnamese side is using Vietnamese words which they insist mean durable and without limit of time. They have the same meaning. I am just accepting your assurance of what the Vietnamese words mean.
Xuan Thuy: We can say that the English word and the Vietnamese word have the same meaning.
Dr. Kissinger: That leaves an ambiguity because it might mean that the English word is less extensive than “limit of time” means. We can accept your word on the basis that it is the equivalent of “permanent.” In other words, the Vietnamese word means “permanent;” it is not that our word means what the Vietnamese word means. We will record that in the protocol.
Article 3. We accept the sentence which you suggested. The first sentence. It was your sentence. Mr. Lord had already accepted it last time and we have just confirmed his acceptance. The rest of paragraph 3 we have no suggestions. That is 3(a). On 3(b) I have a suggestion. In the first sentence we want to say “the armed forces associated with the two South Vietnamese parties.”
Xuan Thuy: 3(a) deals with United States forces and other foreign countries forces allied to the United States and the Republic of Vietnam. 3(b) deals with the armed forces of the two South Vietnamese parties. It is clear.
Dr. Kissinger: Yes, but there are some forces associated with the South Vietnamese parties which are not listed in 3(a).
Xuan Thuy: So 3(a) is adequate. 3(b) deals with the two South Vietnamese parties.
Dr. Kissinger: I understand. But this puts no restrictions on some units that I mentioned to the Special Adviser on other occasions.
Xuan Thuy: I think that if this question is raised again then I think that settlement is impossible. Special Adviser Le Duc Tho has repeatedly said that all armed forces fighting in South Vietnam are under the command of the Government of the PRG, so Article 3(b) is explicit.
Dr. Kissinger: Let us put it aside for the time being and go through the rest of this article.
Xuan Thuy: Shall we read all the provisions again, or should we raise just the points we want to raise with you?[Page 751]
Dr. Kissinger: I think we should just raise the points we want to raise and then we can look at the texts when they get retyped.
Xuan Thuy: We have nothing to say about Article 4.
Dr. Kissinger: Where do we stand? We better read Article 3(b) again with this one proviso.
Xuan Thuy: [Reads Article 3(b)] “The armed forces of the two South Vietnamese parties shall remain in-place. The two party Joint Military Commission described in Article 12 shall determine the areas controlled by each party and the modalities of stationing.”
Dr. Kissinger: We do have a change here. First, our text doesn’t say “Joint Military Commission.” We want to say “[controlled by] the armed forces of each party,” because we are talking about military forces here.
Xuan Thuy: We have accepted that there are two administrations, two armies. Therefore if we use the word “party” here it is adequate.
Dr. Kissinger: Well, it depends what means of control they are going to claim.
Xuan Thuy: How they control, each party controls their areas.
Dr. Kissinger: Well, the whole paragraph deals with armed forces, so I withdraw it. I don’t want the Minister to get over-confident. Otherwise we will have to unleash my friend Ambassador Porter. May I ask his explanation of why you call the two-party Commission a Military Commission and the four-power one just Joint Commission? Why is one a military commission and the other one isn’t?
Xuan Thuy: If you want now to add the word “military” to the four-party we can do that.
Dr. Kissinger: I think they should have the same title. We will accept “military” for the two-party. People are going to ask us, so I think we should add “military” to both of them.
Xuan Thuy: I have made a concession now.
Dr. Kissinger: For too much. All right. Let us go on if there are any other changes. In 4(c) we want again to use the word “associated,” but I won’t make the argument again.
Xuan Thuy: So we have agreed on Article 3?
Dr. Kissinger: Article 3 is agreed with this one proviso about “associated.” We’ll come back to it. Article 4 is all right. Article 5 is all right.
Xuan Thuy: Article 5. In the last sentence you put “United States advisers to all paramilitary organizations.” We propose to use the definite article to mean that every adviser of all nationalities.
Dr. Kissinger: We did that because you don’t mention the Koreans in the Preamble!
Xuan Thuy: You wanted to use the word “United States” and then we add “Korean” here?[Page 752]
Dr. Kissinger: No, we should use the phrase “advisers from the same countries to all paramilitary organizations.” We agree to use “the United States and those countries associated to the United States.” But we will say “advisers to paramilitary organizations.” And the police force.
Xuan Thuy: “Advisers from the above-mentioned countries.”
Dr. Kissinger: Yes, “from the above-mentioned countries.” And we will record in the protocol that if the South Koreans will not leave it is the Minister’s fault.
Xuan Thuy [Laughs]: It is your fault because you want to keep the Koreans behind. But I always believe the Special Adviser Kissinger is unwilling to do that.
Dr. Kissinger: To leave them behind?
Xuan Thuy: No, it is your intention to keep them behind.
Dr. Kissinger: You will see. We will keep all our promises. We intend to carry out this agreement with great meticulousness.
Xuan Thuy: I believe that. Article 6 now.
Dr. Kissinger: Article 6. That is agreeable to us.
Xuan Thuy: Article 7. No problem there?
Dr. Kissinger: Article 7, I think the Minister accepted the language he drafted for the Laos Agreement. Ten years from now, when the Minister is negotiating with my brother he will be quoting from this agreement with him! We will leave Article 7 aside.
Xuan Thuy: We leave Article 7 aside. Article 8 aside.
Dr. Kissinger: Yes. Article 8 aside. We go to Article 9. Because I want to get to the International Control Commission which interests me so much. I know it is also a subject that the Special Adviser is especially interested in. Okay. Article 9.
Xuan Thuy: The exercise of the South Vietnamese People’s Right of Self-determination.
Dr. Kissinger: Except for the fact that you want to say “South Vietnam people” and we want to say “South Vietnamese”—if you want to keep that consistent, we have no trouble through 9(f). What are we at?
Xuan Thuy: Now the first sentence of paragraph (f) reads: “Immediately after the ceasefire the two South Vietnamese parties shall hold consultations in a spirit of national reconciliation and concord, mutual respect and mutual non-elimination to set up an administrative structure called the National Council of National Reconciliation and Concord of three equal segments.” Now after the word “to set up” I would like to add “to set up within fifteen days an administrative structure.”
Dr. Kissinger: No. No, that isn’t agreed. We never agreed on that.[Page 753]
Xuan Thuy: The reason is that the paragraph begins “immediately after the ceasefire.” It shows our desire that the formation of such Council will be prompt.
Dr. Kissinger: No, what should be prompt is the consultations.
Xuan Thuy: If the two parties should hold consultations immediately to set up the Council and the Council has the task to see to the implementation of the signing by the three parties, therefore the Council should be very promptly formed. If it is not promptly formed then how can the Council carry out its task?
Dr. Kissinger: That is a very good question. I have no objection to the formation of the Council in five days if the parties can agree on it. But it was never discussed, and it was always understood that they had three months to conclude those negotiations. That was the whole basis for our agreement. There is no possible basis for accepting that it should be set up within fifteen days unless the two parties agree. I have no objection to that.
Xuan Thuy: How many days do you want then?
Dr. Kissinger: I don’t want any days. As far as I am concerned this is a matter between the two parties and they shall discuss it in the spirit discussed here.
Xuan Thuy: But first you want the international guarantee conference to be convened within thirty days, then there should be the International Commission and the National Council of National Reconciliation and Concord to be set up very promptly to have this done with the international guarantee conference.
Dr. Kissinger: Those are two completely separate things. The guarantee conference we were told has nothing to do with the domestic affairs of South Vietnam. Above all I don’t think this is the purpose of this meeting. This would have been a very interesting discussion last week.
Xuan Thuy: There is no change at all. What we are discussing now is to make it more concrete and clear. Now you say the two South Vietnamese parties have the responsibility to implement the signed agreement and then there should be a structure called the Council of National Reconciliation and Concord who sees to the implementation of the signed agreement. Then there should be an International Commission of Control and Supervision and an International Guarantee Conference. So all these bodies are related to each other.
Dr. Kissinger: They are not related, because the various commissions as well as the guarantees apply to the military provisions. The only other thing the international group controls are the elections, which will not happen until the Council for National Reconciliation and Concord has been formed. All other domestic affairs, political [Page 754] affairs, have by your own request been put outside the province of the International Commission.
Secondly, I know I can find it in the protocol, when the Special Adviser himself proposed his plan of October 8 he pointed out that to get the National Council composed—then it was called the National Administration of National Concord—it would require many weeks and therefore we should not hold up the agreement for it. I agreed with the Special Adviser and therefore I thought his proposal was very significant. Therefore I am afraid we cannot even consider this addition.
Xuan Thuy: My intention is to promptly have this Council set up so that it may see to the implementation of the signed agreements, but if you feel it disagreeable then we can keep it aside for the time being.
Dr. Kissinger: All right, let us keep it aside for the time being.
Xuan Thuy: I propose that in the last sentence, “the two South Vietnamese parties shall sign an agreement on these and other internal matters of South Vietnam as soon as possible,” I propose that we delete the word “these and other.” So the sentence would read “the two South Vietnamese would sign an agreement on the internal matters of South Vietnam as soon as possible.” Because when we speak of internal matters of South Vietnam it includes all matters already.
Dr. Kissinger: I accept that. But when I do it without a struggle I think then the Minister believes he hasn’t really done his duty, that maybe there is something wrong with his proposal and he should withdraw it! [Thuy laughs.]
Xuan Thuy: Now the last part of the sentence, after the word “effect,” I would like to add “in keeping with the South Vietnamese people’s aspirations for peace, independence and democracy.” It is in your own sentence, your proposal of October 8.
Dr. Kissinger: 1964! [Laughter] I accept it. The Minister is catching me at a time when jet lag has caught up with me. I will accept this, too. The Special Adviser won’t believe it when the reads in the protocol how easily everything has been agreed to. Earlier this would have been worth at least three private meetings.
Xuan Thuy: I shall write a letter to Special Adviser Le Duc Tho about that. Mr. Kissinger has a lot of good will.
Dr. Kissinger: Now let us get to paragraph 9(g) and see what the Minister’s good will is. We are withdrawing the last sentence that we sent you [“Until the definitive settlement . . . the existing authorities will continue to administer the areas they control including the conduct of foreign affairs.”]. But we do maintain the other sentence about the general elections [“The offices for which these elections are to be held and their timing are to be determined by consultation between the South Vietnamese parties.”]. The one on general elections. And that [Page 755] was drawn from your own text. I sent the Minister two messages on that subject. [They confer at length. Ambassador Sullivan confers with Dr. Kissinger.] My associate tells me that the Minister’s good will is more protracted than mine, in operation.
Xuan Thuy: Regarding the general elections.
Dr. Kissinger: It was in your own text.
Xuan Thuy: I propose the following sentence, changing the word “offices” to “institutions.” “The institutions for which the general elections are to be held will be decided through negotiations by the South Vietnamese parties in the National Council of National Reconciliation and Concord. The general elections will be held not later than six months after the ceasefire.”
Dr. Kissinger: [Laughs] That is not quite what we had in mind. I don’t think it quite catches our meaning, Mr. Minister, I am sure a point which has not completely escaped him.
Xuan Thuy: So you add one sentence and we add another to make it clearer! [Laughter] Moreover, the six-month period for the general elections is what you had in your proposal.
Dr. Kissinger: Mr. Minister, that was in a completely different context and that was before we set aside the political issues. Since in your own proposal it was made absolutely clear that the National Council of National Reconciliation and Concord would organize the general elections as agreed upon by the South Vietnam parties and decide the procedures and modalities of these elections. So it is obvious that the function of the National Council is to decide the procedures of the elections once agreed, and to organize them, but not to agree on their nature. We simply want to go back to your own proposal of October 12 and make a separate sentence of it. You are now completely changing the meaning of your own proposal.
Xuan Thuy: We agree that which office, which institution will be elected, is a question decided by the Council through negotiation and consultation.
Dr. Kissinger: No, you are agreeing with yourself, not with me. I accept the phrase “institutions” instead of “offices.” Your previous draft and all our discussions it was made clear that it is the two parties which decide. In your draft of October 12 it is obvious that what the National Council of National Reconciliation and Concord does is organize the elections, decide the procedures and modalities, but the two South Vietnamese parties will agree on their nature. So this is a phrase that was in your draft—which you wanted in paragraph 9(b) and which was struck out inadvertently—which we are now reinstituting. It is not anything new. Indeed, you brought it to the experts meeting.
Xuan Thuy: What I meant is that the general elections are to be held 6 months after the signing of the agreement, but what institution, [Page 756] what office, these elections will elect is a question to be decided by the parties.
Dr. Kissinger: No, but that is a new idea. The way we could express it is, instead of making a new sentence we could say “After the two South Vietnamese parties have decided on the institutions for which the elections are to be held, the National Council of Reconciliation and Concord will organize,” etc. [They confer.] That is to substitute for these sentences.
Xuan Thuy: I propose the following for paragraph 9(g). Beginning as we have written “The National Council of National Reconciliation and Concord has the task of promoting . . .” down to “and ensuring of democratic liberties,” then we maintain the sentence as we have written. “The National Council of National Reconciliation and Concord will organize the free and democratic general elections provided for in Article 9(b) and decide the procedures and modalities of these elections.” We would add the following sentence: “The institution for which the general elections are to be held will be decided through negotiations by the two South Vietnamese parties.” Again, “the institutions for which the general elections are to be held will be agreed upon through consultation by the two South Vietnamese parties.”
Dr. Kissinger: Which may mean for a President or a National Assembly. It is not necessarily a constitutional change. It means whatever the two parties agree.
Xuan Thuy: We do not know what they agree on, but it depends upon the consultation of the South Vietnamese.
Dr. Kissinger: “Will be agreed.”
Mr. Phuong: “The institutions . . . will be decided through consultation by the two South Vietnamese parties.”
Xuan Thuy: So we have accepted the proposal you made in your message. But not the sentence you have amended. But here we would like to use the word “institutions.”
Dr. Kissinger: [Copies it out, confers with Sullivan]: He is my Hien. He has a feel for nuance.
Ambassador Sullivan: I’m also very gentle.
Xuan Thuy: So we have agreed upon that. So what about the 6 month period of holding the general elections?
Dr. Kissinger: We have not agreed on that. Let us leave it to the parties, because they will be meeting in a spirit of concord and reconciliation.
Xuan Thuy: Previously you said you wanted these general elections to be held very rapidly. You proposed 6 months, then 5 months.
Dr. Kissinger: No, but that was in a completely different context, in a different set of plans which had many other aspects. I appreciate [Page 757] your consideration and good will with respect to that, but we would offend the Special Adviser if we departed in his absence from the theory he advanced last time in his proposal.
The only concern we have, given the elegant minds which I am confronting, is when we talk about the local elections we say “The parties will agree upon . . .”, and when we talk about the general elections we say “the parties will decide.” So I would say let us say “will be agreed upon through consultations between the two South Vietnamese parties.” It is just to make it consistent.
Xuan Thuy: I agree with you on that.
Dr. Kissinger: I know why the Minister is doing it. He is eager to get to the International Control part.
Mr. Phuong: So I read again the sentence: After “the modalities of these elections,” we say: “The institutions for which the general elections are to be held will be agreed upon through consultations between the two South Vietnamese parties.”
Xuan Thuy: For the following sentence of this paragraph you have written “such local elections as the two South Vietnamese parties may agree upon.” I propose to delete the word “may.”
Dr. Kissinger: All right. I should make the Minister argue more.
Xuan Thuy: Now the sentence you have proposed to put at the end of paragraph (g) I have accepted.
Dr. Kissinger: Well, now we have withdrawn it.
Xuan Thuy: But I accepted it. How can you withdraw it?
Dr. Kissinger: I withdrew it before you expressed an opinion about it. I showed the Minister’s telegram to the President and he then withdrew it. [Laughter]
Xuan Thuy: We propose the sentence—if you keep the sentence then we will propose the following, to be clearer: “Until the definitive settlement provided for in Article 9(b), the Provisional Revolutionary Government of the Republic of South Vietnam and the Government of the Republic of Vietnam will continue to administer the areas under their control and maintain their respective existing diplomatic relations that are not at variance with the provisions of this agreement.” Your idea is a very good one, and we have redrafted the sentence to make it clearer.
Dr. Kissinger: But I think we recognize that the Special Adviser was correct in his original draft, so that we should not raise this issue now. I have made a great concession to you to show my serious intent by withdrawing that sentence.
Xuan Thuy: After receiving your message I informed immediately Special Adviser Le Duc Tho, and he informed me that he completely agreed to your ideas. He accepted it.[Page 758]
Dr. Kissinger: I think we better drop this idea. We may have to disappoint the Special Adviser.
Xuan Thuy: Mr. Le Duc Tho phoned me to say it is a good idea from Dr. Kissinger, he looks forward very far.
Dr. Kissinger: From Peking?
Xuan Thuy: Yes, from Peking.
Dr. Kissinger: He must stay in a guest house that has a telephone! Whenever I am in a guest house they take all the telephones out. But that is because they never let me outside the grounds where I am staying. So we drop that sentence, but you will tell Special Adviser Le Duc Tho that I appreciate his consideration. Tell him he made the sentence too concrete.
Xuan Thuy: But you withdraw now your own ideas that are very good.
Dr. Kissinger: It is a concession to you and now you owe me another concession.
Xuan Thuy: To catch it up I shall add another sentence after!
Dr. Kissinger: We shall consider that. We will let you add a sentence to the International Control Commission, making it five and operating by majority. [Laughter]
Xuan Thuy: No problem for 9(h).
Dr. Kissinger: That is fine with us. We accept.
Xuan Thuy: Regarding 9(i), you have proposed to add a sentence: “respect the military provision of 1954 Geneva Agreements on Vietnam.” We agree to add the world “military”, to say “military provisions” but we would like to detail the military provisions and write “respect the military provisions of the 1954 Geneva Agreements on Vietnam which prohibit the joining of a military alliance or military bloc, the maintenance by foreign countries of military bases, troops, advisers or military personnel on its territory.”
Dr. Kissinger: We can accept that, unless in military personnel it includes military attachés. So if you just say “it will not allow foreign powers to maintain military bases, troops or military advisers on its territory,” that takes care of everything.
Xuan Thuy: Yes, we use the word military personnel here with the understanding excluding the military attaché at the Embassy.
Dr. Kissinger: All right. Can you then read the English sentence to me again?
Mr. Phuong: “South Vietnam will pursue a foreign policy of peace and independence. It will respect the military provisions of the 1954 Geneva Agreements on Vietnam which prohibit the joining of a military alliance or military bloc, the maintenance by foreign powers of military [Page 759] bases, troops, military advisers and military personnel on this territory. South Vietnam will establish relations with all countries . . .”
Dr. Kissinger: Let me ask you this question. What do you mean by “South Vietnam” here? Is that after the elections?
Xuan Thuy: South Vietnam after the ceasefire.
Dr. Kissinger: How does this differ then from the last paragraph of Chapter V, Article 10? And why shouldn’t we put that there? It is essentially the same provision. Why don’t we move this provision to the end of the other one. I don’t object to the words but it is almost the same thing.
Xuan Thuy: There is a difference here. In 9(i) it deals with South Vietnam. But before the general elections in South Vietnam there are two administrations, two armies. Both administrations and armies should pursue a foreign policy of peace, independence and neutrality. But you don’t want to use the word “neutrality”; you wanted to replace the word “neutrality” by “respect of the provisions of the Geneva Agreement of 1954.” Then we propose to write the military provisions in detail, but in Chapter V it deals for the whole of Vietnam, both North and South Vietnam.
Dr. Kissinger: I notice the Minister has put the prohibition of foreign military forces into every article of this agreement. I think he has a slight concern with that problem.
Xuan Thuy: Article 9(i) deals with the foreign policy of South Vietnam, but the last paragraph of Article 10 deals with both North and South Vietnam.
Dr. Kissinger: All right. I understand it and agree.
Xuan Thuy: Now another word, you have put “South Vietnam will maintain relations.” We add “it will maintain and establish.”
Dr. Kissinger: That we cannot say. That is interference in their domestic affairs.
Xuan Thuy: [laughs] But when you say “maintain” you interfere in their international affairs.
Dr. Kissinger: I will be prepared to drop the sentence, which would be the best solution.
Xuan Thuy: We should not delete it because it deals with the foreign policy of South Vietnam.
Dr. Kissinger: I have one consolation, Mr. Minister. When I arrive in Saigon I will have to go through the long painful process again with another group of people whose minds, unfortunately, are exactly like yours.
Xuan Thuy: I don’t know why each time I agree with you on something you retract from your agreement.[Page 760]
Dr. Kissinger: What have you agreed with? The problem for us is “establish.” We cannot command them to do something they are not now doing.
Xuan Thuy: So I accept your word “maintain” and drop the word “establish.”
Dr. Kissinger: OK. And then we added the first paragraph of 7 minus the word “definitive.” We have agreed on that. Let us not talk about it.
Xuan Thuy: Agreed.
Dr. Kissinger: Good.
Xuan Thuy: I agree very rapidly. Now let us talk about Chapter 5. No problem about Chapter 5.
Dr. Kissinger: What is your definition of no problem? That means he sneaked in something!
Xuan Thuy: Agreed by the two sides.
Dr. Kissinger: How about the phrase “between the two zones.”?
Xuan Thuy: I agree. In the first part, “the military demarcation line.”
Dr. Kissinger: You agree to take it out? We want to take it out in the next paragraph too, because it was a typing error and it would put Miss Derus in a terrible position if it stayed.
Xuan Thuy: If you wanted to delete in the first paragraph then we agree to your proposal.
Dr. Kissinger: You mean if we delete it in the first paragraph you will agree to our proposal, you will delete the second one too?
Xuan Thuy: I repeat, in the first paragraph of Article 10 the word “between the two zones” will be deleted. In the second paragraph we leave as it is without any deletion.
Dr. Kissinger: I understand, but then as Mr. Lord told you on Thursday or Friday, whenever you met, it was put in by mistake. It will just create unnecessary difficulties. We are talking about North and South Vietnam. We accept the content. By putting in the word “zones” we are just creating unnecessary problems. I admit we made a mistake, but at the speed at which we operate, it is inevitable that such mistakes occur.
Xuan Thuy: Because “on the basis of discussion and agreement,” the agreement between whom?
Dr. Kissinger: You can say “between North and South Vietnam.” Or “between the parties.”
Xuan Thuy: “Between North and South Vietnam.”
Dr. Kissinger: Yes, that is fine. You just saved Miss Derus’ job.
Xuan Thuy: I have nothing to say about the third paragraph and the last paragraph of Article 10.[Page 761]
Dr. Kissinger: The only concern I have about it, and I won’t press it, is “pending reunification.” It implies that after reunification they can join a military alliance! Let us leave it alone. It won’t happen before the election!
Xuan Thuy: If you interpret the provisions in accordance with your philosophic attitudes.
Dr. Kissinger: I will be a professor when it happens!
Xuan Thuy: Now Chapter VI. [Laughter]
Dr. Kissinger: You’re the only man here who knows what this chapter means.
Xuan Thuy: I have a feeling that the experts on two sides have worked very well the other day. Therefore, I have no need to add anything.
Dr. Kissinger: Really?
Xuan Thuy: But you have also brought no amendment at all.
Dr. Kissinger: None, really, except the ones I have given you, the ones I sent you. I have a few changes for clarity which are very easy. I have really very few changes. For example, in the first paragraph where we say “shall form a four-party Joint Commission,” we would now have to say “Military Commission,” and we would like to say “shall designate representatives to form a four-party Joint Military Commission.” It is really done for clarity.
Xuan Thuy: Do you intend to put a time limit for the formation of the Joint Commission?
Dr. Kissinger: That is a good point. Yes, it should be formed immediately.
Xuan Thuy: Shall we add “immediately designate.”?
Dr. Kissinger: “Shall immediately designate.” Yes, that is a very fruitful suggestion. “Immediately”, I am assuming has the same meaning in Vietnamese!
Xuan Thuy: In some places English and Vietnamese have the same meaning, but in others there are some differences. There are many English words if we translate them by the exact meaning of English word they are not understandable by Vietnamese.
Dr. Kissinger: My impression is, dealing with the Minister and his colleagues, that Vietnamese is a very subtle language that expresses many nuances you can’t express in English. I am serious. That is my impression.
Xuan Thuy: Yes, a Vietnamese word can have many meanings. The exact meaning is figurative. And the Vietnamese is a musical language, too.
Dr. Kissinger: All right, next paragraph. Just a wording change. “Allied to,” that’s “allied with.” And of course where you speak of [Page 762] “the forces of the Provisional Revolutionary Government,” we prefer to say “associated with the Provisional Revolutionary Government,” but I don’t think you will accept it here in this section either, so we will have to reserve it. I don’t want to . . .
Xuan Thuy: Yes, you are right, we will not accept it, so you have foreseen my stand.
Dr. Kissinger: And then in the next paragraph, it is “allied with,” not “allied to.” May we, if we find many “allied to’s” substitute “allied with,” if I don’t call it to your attention? Wherever it says “allied to,” in case we have missed one, we will say “allied with.”
Xuan Thuy: So we have agreed on up to page 12.
Dr. Kissinger: Except on “associated with,” which we will take care of later. I know you don’t accept it. I know the Minister hasn’t accepted it yet, but maybe in another hour or two, when he has a better chance to look at it . . .
Xuan Thuy: Even when you return to it I will not accept it. I have raised this question many times so you shouldn’t raise it again.
Dr. Kissinger: Well, let us reserve it to the end. Now next page. Is there some problem about Article 7? We are talking about page 13 now.
Xuan Thuy: We will examine it. I feel that Article 7 should not be written here because it has been written in Article 12. [Ambassador Sullivan confers with Dr. Kissinger.]
Dr. Kissinger: Don’t mind Mr. Sullivan, he doesn’t understand this problem. You’re right. I agree with you. If my colleagues can bear with me, there was a diplomatic problem in the 19th century of which someone said only three people understood it: One was dead, one was insane, and the man who said this was the third, and he had forgotten it. I think that is going to be our problem here. All right, we will move Article 7 to Article 12, I mean we will move the supervision of Article 7 to Article 12.
Xuan Thuy: Regarding Article 8, we agree to the mention of Article 8 here, but the wording as written we have not agreed.
Dr. Kissinger: No, that depends on what we come up with.
Xuan Thuy: Article (b), you mention that disagreements should be referred to the International Commission of Control and Supervision. We propose that the following sentence be added: “The four-party Joint Commission may request the assistance and cooperation of the International Commission of Control and Supervision.”
Dr. Kissinger: By unanimous vote? We went through that last time, Mr. Minister. That doesn’t make any sense. The Special Adviser accepted this sentence last time, and I explained to him why it doesn’t make any sense. If they disagree they are not going to agree on requesting the assistance.[Page 763]
Xuan Thuy: Or shall we write in the following manner: “In case of divergences the four-party Joint Commission may consult the International Commission of Control and Supervision.”?
Dr. Kissinger: But how does it do it? By unanimous vote?
Xuan Thuy: If the International Commission realizes that divergences arise in the parties, then the International Commission may raise the question and the Joint Commission may take into account what the International Commission raises and take necessary measures. So in case of divergences then the four-party Joint Commission may refer divergences or consult the International Commission. No need to have unanimous decision.
Dr. Kissinger: That is exactly what we say. That is the exact meaning of what we are saying.
Xuan Thuy: But we use the word “consult.”
Dr. Kissinger: Disagreement on what?
Mr. Phuong: In case of divergences the Joint Commission may consult the International Commission.
Dr. Kissinger: How does that differ from what I am saying here?
Xuan Thuy: In your version you use the word “refer to.” In Vietnamese it means that once there is divergence automatically this should be referred to the International Commission, but here in case of divergence either party may ask the views of the International Commission and the International Commission will give its view and the parties take into account the views of the International Commission. The difference is that your wording of “refer to” in Vietnamese language it means that it is referred to a superior organ. In Vietnamese [our wording] means that the Joint Commission and the International Commission are equal.
Dr. Kissinger: That is what it implies in English. It is almost impossible to convince the American people as it is that this chapter has any operational significance. But in your formulations it is impossible to describe how it is going to work much less what it can accomplish. We already have a provision there that the International Commission of Control and Supervision, at least for an interim period, will report to the two South Vietnamese parties. So since then the parties refer it to the International Commission which then refers it back to the Joint Commission which is the two parties, which will refer it to the International Commission—which operates on the principle of unanimity!
Xuan Thuy: First the International Commission should respect the sovereignty of the parties of Vietnam.
Dr. Kissinger: Well, we have got that in there somewhere.
Xuan Thuy: Secondly the four-party Joint Commission should work in a spirit to put up with each other. If they have no such spirit then [Page 764] any provision can’t make them agree. But if you use the word “refer to” with the meaning that the International Commission should respect or should not infringe on the sovereignty of Vietnam, and the meaning that the Joint Commission and the International Commission are equal and not that the International Commission is at a higher level than the Joint Commission, then with this understanding we may accept the word “refer to.”
Dr. Kissinger: Well, I don’t want to get into a metaphysical discussion with the Minister of what is a higher level of an institution that operates on the principle of unanimity and reports back to the parties that are involved. I would like to say the dangers you fear are not likely to be realized. Fears of excessive activity infringing on the sovereignty of the DRV by an International Commission operating by unanimity and containing two countries of the socialist bloc—this is not the most dire threat that the DRV faces. So I think we understand each other and I think we should let the sentence stand. It will certainly be carried out in the spirit of respect for sovereignty. As I told the Special Adviser last time, my personal opinion is that the observation of this agreement depends less on this machinery and much more on the relationship that you and we are able to establish after the war. If both you and we develop a stake in our good relations—which is certainly our firm intention—then each time an action is taken we look at it from this point of view. If we don’t develop this, as you have fully proved, the international machinery will not operate, to put it mildly, with full effectiveness.
Xuan Thuy: With this understanding, and with the perspective of the good development of the relationship between the Democratic Republic of Vietnam and the United States, I agree to your formulation.
Dr. Kissinger: We appreciate it very much.
Xuan Thuy: Article 11(c).
Dr. Kissinger: No, (b) we have just finished.
Xuan Thuy: 11(c). You have put 11(c): “The four-party Joint Commission shall begin operating after the signing of this agreement . . .”
Dr. Kissinger: We should say “immediately after the signing of this agreement.”
Xuan Thuy: “. . . and end its activities after implementation of Articles 2, 3, 5 and 6 of this agreement.” We propose the following: “The four-party Joint Commission shall begin operating immediately after the signing of this agreement and end its activities after the implementation of Article 3 and the first paragraph of Article 2 . . .” I will read again: “The four-party Joint Commission shall begin operating after the signing of this agreement and end its activities after the implementation of the first paragraph of Article 2, Article 3, Article 5, Article 6 and Article 8 has been completed.”[Page 765]
Dr. Kissinger: All of Article 2. Well, the first paragraph of Article 2 is fine with me.
Xuan Thuy: Dealing with ceasefire in South Vietnam and the second paragraph of Article 2 dealing with the bombing of North Vietnam.
Dr. Kissinger: In other words, you want all of Article 2.
Xuan Thuy: The first paragraph of Article 2 because it is a four-party Joint Commission.
Dr. Kissinger: So what you want is “an end to its activities after the implementation of the first paragraph of the Article 2.” Article 3(a) is really what you mean. Paragraph 3(a), all of Articles 5, 6 and 8.
Xuan Thuy: All of Article 3.
Dr. Kissinger: But Article 3 deals also with the two parties. I think you are wrong. Articles 3(b) and (c) should come under the two-party Joint Military Commission. (b) and (c) deal with the relation of the two South Vietnamese parties with each other.
Xuan Thuy: 3(a) deals with United States forces and other foreign forces.
Dr. Kissinger: That is right. 3(a) should be under the four-power Commission.
Xuan Thuy: (c) refers to the work of the four-party Joint Commission. (b) belongs to the two-party.
Dr. Kissinger: All right, then let us say paragraph 3(a) and (c). Just be specific. The first paragraph of Article 2, Articles 3(a) and (c), Articles 5, 6, and 8, and that way we are precise. All right.
Xuan Thuy: All right.
Dr. Kissinger: Now may I ask the meaning of (d), “The four parties shall agree on the organization of the four-party Joint Commission.” You are going to do that at Avenue Kleber?
Xuan Thuy: This will be decided after the ceasefire.
Dr. Kissinger: But how can you form a Commission when they don’t have working procedures?
Xuan Thuy: We will do the signing, then the four-power Commission.
Dr. Kissinger: On the one hand, we say the four-power Commission should operate immediately. On the other, say they have to work out the procedures.
Xuan Thuy: It was what we had done in Geneva Agreements in 1954. They decided the ceasefire and the ceasefire was observed and the Joint Commission would operate afterward.
Dr. Kissinger: Shall we say “shall agree immediately?” I want to see, it will take at least that much to get Ambassador Porter and the Minister to proceed.[Page 766]
Xuan Thuy: “Shall promptly agree.”
Dr. Kissinger: “Shall agree promptly.” All right.
Xuan Thuy: Article 12.
Dr. Kissinger: Mr. Lord wants to know whether in Vietnamese “promptly” occurs before “immediately,” because if it doesn’t the four-power Commission will be operating before it has its procedures! All right, let us go on. Maybe we could agree on using the word “immediately” in both places, so that we don’t have to explain the difference between “promptly” and “immediately.”
Article 12. I think the only man in this room who understands this is your new associate at your left. He must be a professor of Canon Law.
On the top of page 14, Article 12, we would like to say “shall immediately designate representatives.” The same as we did with the four-party Joint Military Commission.
Xuan Thuy: Yes. We propose “shall designate representatives to form immediately,” as before.
Dr. Kissinger: It makes more sense in English to say “shall immediately designate,” because that is what forms the Commission. I will be glad to discuss it for a few minutes. If we spent the time we devote to this chapter to the settlement of Cambodia we would settle that before the ceasefire!
Xuan Thuy: Article 12. There is mention of Article 7 and Article 9 here.
Dr. Kissinger: We have to mention 3(b) here, and the first paragraph of 2, which applies also.
Xuan Thuy: As we said before.
Dr. Kissinger: No, before we said 3(a) and (c) for the four-power Commission. The first paragraph of Article 2 applies to everybody. Then 3(b) and then Article 7, Article 8 and Article 9(h), as I agreed with the Special Adviser.
Xuan Thuy: We propose to delete Article 8 here.
Dr. Kissinger: Well, you put it in at the experts meeting. Well, it depends. If you accept our Article 8(c) then it has to come here.
Xuan Thuy: We have not solved the question of Article 8 yet.
Dr. Kissinger: That’s right, so let’s leave it open.
Xuan Thuy: I propose to drop this Article 8 in connection with the two-party Joint Commission.
Dr. Kissinger: Why don’t we wait until we decide on it?
Xuan Thuy: How do you understand Article 8?
Dr. Kissinger: I know you have not accepted it, but if Article 8(c) retains something like its present form then it should be under the two-power Commission.[Page 767]
Xuan Thuy: We have not agreed to the Article 8(c). We have not accepted Article 8(a) because of the word “innocent civilians,” therefore we propose to drop Article 8(a). Therefore we propose no mention of Article 8 here.
Dr. Kissinger: That depends how we decide it.
Xuan Thuy: We shall discuss Article 8 later.
Dr. Kissinger: All right, let us put it aside until we have decided Article 8. I have no fixed view on it. It is even conceivable that we decide on the basis of our proposal of 8(c) to have some special supervision for it. Let’s put it aside for the moment. This will solve itself automatically when we solve Article 8. This is not a problem of principle.
Xuan Thuy: Yes, we agree to keep it aside. You have not mentioned 3(c) yet. Should we mention it?
Dr. Kissinger: Yes. You are right. Although it is hard to see how something can be under both the four and the two-power Commissions. But you can put down “3(c) after the four-power Commission has ceased its functions.” That is also true of the first paragraph of Article 2. There is no sense having concurrent jurisdiction of two Commissions which overlap.
Xuan Thuy: Article 2 covers the two-party Joint Commission as well as the four-party Joint Commission at the beginning.
Dr. Kissinger: But as long as the four-power Commission exists, those things that are for all four should be put in the four-power Commission. There is no point in having both the two-party and the four-party Commission deal with the same provisions.
Xuan Thuy: What regards the two parties then the two-party Joint Commission will deal with it. What regards the four-party then the four-party Joint Commission will deal with it.
Dr. Kissinger: That is right, but there are some that overlap. For example the ceasefire at first is between the four parties. But then the four-power Commission will stop operating and then those provisions should be assumed by the two-party Commission.
Xuan Thuy: After two months of the troop withdrawal, the four-party Joint Commission will end its activities, and after that the two-party Joint Commission will continue the work left by the four-party Joint Commission.
Dr. Kissinger: That’s exactly my point.
Xuan Thuy: But at the first stage there are problems which regard the four-party Joint Commission but also at the same time in the first phase there will also be problems which regard the two-party Joint Commission.
Dr. Kissinger: I agree, and therefore Article 3(b) which concerns the ceasefire among the South Vietnamese parties should be under the [Page 768] two-party Joint Commission. Article 7 should be from the beginning under the two-party Commission. Article 9(h) should be also. And after the four-power Commission ceases, all of its functions that still have to be carried out go to the two-power Commission, but the two-power Commission will begin functioning at the same time as the four-power Commission. That is our conception.
Xuan Thuy: We agree. Let us have a little break.
Dr. Kissinger: That is exactly my idea. Now, we have a time problem. We absolutely must leave tonight. We cannot possibly stay over because our schedule in Saigon is already set. It has already been announced and we must be at the airport by 10:30.
It is just for us to keep in mind.
Xuan Thuy: Let us make an effort to work rapidly.
Dr. Kissinger: Someone once said he arrived at Saigon to a 21-gun salute, all aimed at him! [Laughter]
[There was a break from 5:52–6:30 p.m. There follow excerpts from the Minister’s informal conversation with Dr. Kissinger during the break.]
Dr. Kissinger: The first possibility is we reach an agreement here. The second possibility is that we cannot reach agreement. The third possibility is that there will be some difficulties which cannot be overcome in one week. We have three days now. In that case—I am just giving you contingency plans—in that case I would have to let you know that I will come back in one week or six days or five days. These are the three possibilities I perceive. But what we want to do is to stick to our work program, and the better, the more satisfactory a proposal we have the better it will be.
Xuan Thuy: So far as I know, in Hanoi they have made arrangements for the possibility of reaching an agreement and the possibility of not reaching an agreement. And therefore personally speaking I should like to greet you here because I have great respect for you.
Dr. Kissinger: That’s mutual.
Xuan Thuy: But if we can’t reach agreement today and as you propose we meet again on Wednesday, this is one question I have to ask Hanoi.
Dr. Kissinger: Of course and it very probably may not be necessary. I am just trying to think of every possibility. You mean tomorrow? I meant next week. [Thuy nods] I must in any event leave today. But one possibility would be to come back Wednesday, have another meeting, go again to Saigon, stay in Saigon one day this time and go from Saigon to Hanoi. So the delay would be five or six days. But this is not our preference; our preference is to finish today, finish in Saigon and do what we have agreed. This is not a proposal. Of course if we [Page 769] have an enormous obstacle in Saigon then we would have to consider what we’ll do for the next three weeks. But let us finish our document. At any rate, what we have agreed to we will maintain. So then the next questions are tactical questions.
Xuan Thuy: But I am afraid that if we can’t agree today then it would be difficult to meet you again this week or next week. I agree with you that we should endeavor to complete the document today. Shall we resume?
[The formal meeting then resumed.]
Dr. Kissinger: Are we finished with Article 12?
Xuan Thuy: Regarding the sentence of disagreement, we shall settle this question as we have done with the four-party Joint Commission.
Dr. Kissinger: Okay, good. With the same understanding. Can we substitute the word “immediately” for the word “promptly”? We just don’t want to have to explain what the difference between the two words is.
Xuan Thuy: All right.
Dr. Kissinger: It has, as far as I can tell, no significance unless they appear in the same sentence.
Xuan Thuy: Agreed.
Dr. Kissinger: Article 13, could we say “At the same time that this agreement is signed an International Commission of Control shall be established”?
Xuan Thuy: After the signing of the agreement, the International Commission of Control and Supervision shall be immediately set up.
Dr. Kissinger: Okay. Can we say “established” instead of “set up”? Then the Ambassador can leak to newspapers that he drafted the document! “After the signing of this agreement . . .” [Colonel Guay enters. Dr. Kissinger confers briefly with him and then Colonel Guay leaves.] We are now committed. You cannot settle everything in the next half hour, Mr. Minister, because we have sent our drivers away. We’ve sent him to get our bags and then we’ll go from here straight to the airport. Article 13(b), right?
Xuan Thuy: We propose another sentence: “The relationship between the International Commission of Control and Supervision and the international conference mentioned in Article 14 hereunder will be determined on a later date.”
Dr. Kissinger: Say that again.
Mr. Phuong: “The relationship between the International Commission of Control and Supervision with the international conference mentioned in Article 14 hereunder will be determined on a later date.”
Dr. Kissinger: At what later date?[Page 770]
Xuan Thuy: It means that after the formation of the International Commission and the convening of the international conference, then they will discuss and establish their relationship.
Dr. Kissinger: Well, that’s what we have: “Until the international conference makes definitive arrangements,” and so forth.
Xuan Thuy: We propose to add after the end of the first paragraph of 13(b), we propose to add the following sentence: “The relationship between the International Commission of Control and Supervision and the international conference mentioned in Article 14 hereunder will be decided at a later date.”
Dr. Kissinger: Why don’t we say “will be decided by the conference”?
Xuan Thuy: But the international conference is not yet convened. We should let the international conference discuss and take a decision.
Dr. Kissinger: That’s why we say “will be decided by the conference”—it can’t be decided until it’s convened.
Xuan Thuy: I agree.
Dr. Kissinger: Okay, now can you read the paragraph to me so that I am sure we understand each other?
Xuan Thuy: “Until the international guarantee conference makes definitive arrangements the International Commission will report to the four parties for control and supervision.”
Dr. Kissinger: Now what’s your sentence? Did he want to add a sentence to this?
Xuan Thuy: I agree to your proposal.
Dr. Kissinger: It stays as it is.
Xuan Thuy: Yes. We agree.
Dr. Kissinger: All right. Now, could I fix something here which we think is pure English: “Shall report to the four parties to this agreement on matters concerning control and supervision of the implementation of the following provisions . . .”
Xuan Thuy: But you propose the four parties to the agreement which signed the agreement. It is not yet decided—only two parties sign the agreement.
Dr. Kissinger: Oh, “to the four parties”—you are right, we will take out “to this agreement.” We will just add “on matters concerning.”
Xuan Thuy: We propose to delete Article 7 mentioned in Article 13(b), because these questions concern the two South Vietnamese parties which we can mention in Article 13(c). But in any case, it is the International Commission which controls this matter.
Dr. Kissinger: Yes, I agree. Put it under 13(c).
Xuan Thuy: Article 8, we put it aside for the moment.[Page 771]
Dr. Kissinger: Now, in order to save time, we are making the reports to the four powers consistent with those matters that are under the four-power Commission, and the reports to the two-powers consistent with those matters under the two-power Cornmission.
Now what is your conception of this four-power role? Will that continue after the four-power Commission has ended?
Xuan Thuy: The four-party Joint Commission will end its responsibilities after two months, but the role of the four powers will remain.
Dr. Kissinger: [interrupting above sentence] I resent that the Minister is talking only to Engel now. You think he is a descendant of Marx’s associate?
Yes, I understand. That’s how we interpret it also.
Xuan Thuy: Regarding Article 13(b), the last paragraph of page 15. The article, this paragraph should be, we propose “The International Commission of Control and Supervision will form international control teams for carrying out its task. These teams will be established and carry out its activities with the concurrence of the four parties. The four parties will facilitate the activities of these teams.”
Dr. Kissinger: This is the God-damnedest thing I have ever heard. I am just trying to clear my mind. First, the four parties have their own teams in the four-party Joint Commission, so there’s a veto there. Then there’s an international commission that also operates on the basis of unanimity, whose actions can be vetoed by any one of the parties. And then after it has taken these actions it reports to the parties that it is controlling. Did I understand the operation of that perfectly?
Xuan Thuy: The difference between your formulation and ours is that . . . The first sentence in the two versions coincide.
Dr. Kissinger: Yes.
Xuan Thuy: The difference is that if you write “the control teams will operate with the concurrence of the parties,” it would mean that the International Commission may establish its teams wherever it likes, and this will constitute an encroachment on the sovereignty of the parties. Therefore we propose that “the control teams will be established and will carry out its activities with the concurrence of the parties.” And “the parties will facilitate the activities of the teams.”
Dr. Kissinger: Well, I would have thought that the formation of the teams should be not subject to the concurrence of the parties. Their operation, I understand, should be.
Xuan Thuy: The Commission is free to form the control teams, but where the team is located, how the team will operate, it should have obtained the concurrence of the parties. So if you accept our proposal then it would meet the explanations we have given you.[Page 772]
Dr. Kissinger: Yes, but “establish” in English means the same as formation. You are talking about the location of these teams. When we say “established” we mean the formation of the teams.
Xuan Thuy: Shall we put now that “the location of the team and the operation of the team shall be done with the concurrence of the parties”? And “the International Commission of Control and Supervision shall form control teams for carrying out these tasks?”
Dr. Kissinger: Shall we say “The four parties shall agree on the location and operation of these teams, shall agree immediately on the location and operation of these teams.” “The four parties shall agree immediately on the location and operation of these teams.” And then “The parties will facilitate their operation.”
Xuan Thuy: Agreed.
Dr. Kissinger: Good, fine. Next paragraph, 13(c).
Xuan Thuy: We agree as to the first sentence.
Dr. Kissinger: Right, 13(c).
Xuan Thuy: The end of paragraph (c) will be amended as we have agreed before.
Dr. Kissinger: Now just a minute. Your gentle Mr. Hien sometimes has a different conception of what was agreed on. Could you read it to me? It will end exactly like paragraph 13(b)? You’re dropping “at the request of the parties.” [They nod yes.] Thank you, I agree.
Then we put the same sentence here, “The two South Vietnamese parties shall agree immediately . . .” the same sentence on the location and operation of these teams. It’s the same as we had with the four-power teams.
Xuan Thuy: Right.
Dr. Kissinger: I have a profound point to suggest. I would like to list the countries alphabetically, which would make it Canada, Hungary, Indonesia and Poland.
Xuan Thuy: We will follow the alphabet of the Vietnamese language.
Dr. Kissinger: [Laughs] How is that? Does it differ?
Xuan Thuy: Poland, Canada, Hungary, Indonesia.
Mr. Engel: [to Dr. Kissinger] Poland is spelled with a “B” in Vietnamese.
Dr. Kissinger: That’s fine.
Xuan Thuy: We have two proposals in this connection. We agree to the composition of the . . . We agree to Article (c), no problem.
Dr. Kissinger: On (e), “the principle of respect for the sovereignty of Vietnam.” Can we say, “the sovereignty of the parties”? After unification this whole system is going to end anyway. Until unification it [Page 773] doesn’t make any sense to say “with respect for the sovereignty of Vietnam.” “Of the Vietnamese parties,” or for “the sovereignty of South Vietnam.”
Xuan Thuy: “Of the Vietnamese parties.”
Dr. Kissinger: Then the question is who are the Vietnamese parties? Why don’t we say “in accordance with the principle of respect for sovereignty.” Then we don’t have to say of whom, because then we don’t get into the juridical question of whether the two parties in South Vietnam are sovereign.
Xuan Thuy: “Sovereignty of the parties concerned”?
Dr. Kissinger: If you want to say “of the sovereignty of North and South Vietnam.”
Xuan Thuy: “Of the parties concerned.”
Dr. Kissinger: Why don’t we just say “In accordance with the principle of respect for sovereignty”? Then we can argue later. There will be fourteen nations that can argue this later.
Xuan Thuy: Agreed.
Dr. Kissinger: Good.
Xuan Thuy: (f).
Dr. Kissinger: (f), yes. We’ve made a concession to you. We’ve accepted your unanimity principle.
Xuan Thuy: I agree to you and thank you.
Dr. Kissinger: The Polish member will feel very happy. It will be like the Polish parliament used to be.
Xuan Thuy: (g). Have you anything to say about (g) and (h)?
Dr. Kissinger: Yes, I want to eliminate the word “definitive.” I want to say, “at the request of the government formed after the general elections provided by Article 9(b).” That’s consistent with what we’ve done elsewhere.
Now with respect to paragraph (h). Ambassador Sullivan points out to me that in other conferences the members of the conferences have sometimes borne some of the expense of the international machinery. Shall we say “The four parties shall make recommendations to the conference”? Let’s hold a minute, I have to consult my expert here.
What is your intention? Are you prepared to pay for this control machinery? Given the enthusiasm you have shown, I am certain.
Xuan Thuy: But the International Commission shall be immediately established . . .
Dr. Kissinger: I agree. All right, let us say “Until the international conference makes definitive arrangements, the four parties shall agree . . .” “Until the international conference makes definitive arrangements . . .” It’s the same formula.[Page 774]
Xuan Thuy: The paragraph (h) coincides in both the American text and the Vietnamese text. Let us keep it.
Dr. Kissinger: Yes, but Mr. Sullivan is one of the world’s greatest experts on control machinery, and I had pointed out to the Special Adviser and to the Minister that this was a subject that had not grabbed my undivided attention in the past. And it’s been pointed out to me that since the conference makes definitive arrangements about everything else why not let them make definitive arrangements about this afterward?
Xuan Thuy: We have proposed that the four parties shall agree on the organization, activities and expenditures of the International Commission. As to the relationship between the International Commission and the international conference, then it will be considered on a later date.
Dr. Kissinger: Well, can we say this, then: “The four parties will agree immediately on . . .” and “These arrangements will be reviewed by the international conference.”
Xuan Thuy: No need to have this sentence. When the International Conference will be convened, then we shall discuss this question.
Dr. Kissinger: That’s what we want to have in there. We want to have in there that the arrangements will be discussed by this conference.
Xuan Thuy: Because the International Commission is related to the four parties, the means of action will be supplied by the four parties, the expenditures will be supplied by the four parties.
Dr. Kissinger: Are you going to pay half of it?
Xuan Thuy: The four parties will agree on that.
Dr. Kissinger: Yes, but then the end result of that may be that this Commission will never be set up because then one party can veto it.
Xuan Thuy: The International Commission should be formed immediately. You have put in the word “immediately” and we have agreed to that. Because if the International Commission cannot be established, then no need to put your sentence, because the international conference will not have to review the agreement on the organization of the Commission.
Dr. Kissinger: No, the sentence I prefer is “Until the international guarantee conference makes the arrangements . . .” That way if it cannot be set up in the first month it will be set up immediately afterward. We will be the laughing stock of any expert in the field if we make an agreement to a Commission that, first, has to be set up by the parties, the parties can veto its operation, the parties control its budget—and we call it an international commission.
Xuan Thuy: I have not understood your views. Because when we agree to something here we should think that we will respect the agreed provisions.[Page 775]
Dr. Kissinger: I have told you all along that on this subject I was not as familiar with the details as on other subjects. Our clause says: “Until the International Guarantee Conference makes definitive arrangements . . .” There is no doubt in my mind that the guarantee conference will confirm these arrangements when it exists, but we want to establish some relationship between the Commission and the conference.
Xuan Thuy: This is a sentence we have agreed to previously. Now I would like to maintain this sentence without any change.
As to Article 14, we have put here “The parties to the international conference will acknowledge the signed agreement,” not “review the agreement.” As to the relationship between the International Commission and the international conference, this will be discussed on a later date, but not now.
Dr. Kissinger: I agree with this. That I have no problem with. All we are trying to say in 13(h) is what we have said in 13(b) and 13(c). That does not prejudice the possibility . . . That does not establish any particular relationship.
Xuan Thuy: We shall discuss this question at the international conference.
Dr. Kissinger: Well, that’s all I want put down. Give me any sentence that says this. I mean it’s very difficult to ask countries to participate in a machinery in which they have no opportunity to express their views at all. The only place where they have a chance to express their views is in the conference.
Xuan Thuy: I think that this sentence you are proposing is not necessary. And at the international conference they can say what they like.
Dr. Kissinger: Well, they can say what they like but it won’t get them anywhere.
Xuan Thuy: Moreover, the countries participating in the International Commission will also participate in the international conference.
Dr. Kissinger: That’s exactly why we would like to have it discussed there. That is their opportunity to discuss it. That’s exactly our reason for wanting it discussed there.
Xuan Thuy: Then you can put this sentence, that “the relationship between the [Page 776] International Commission and the international conference will be determined on a later date.”
Dr. Kissinger: “Will be determined by the conference.” That’s all right—I’ll accept that sentence.
Xuan Thuy: In my view, no sentence is necessary here, but as you like it we can add the sentence. “The relationship between the International Commission on Control and Supervision and the international guarantee conference will be determined on a later date.”
Dr. Kissinger: “By the conference.”
Xuan Thuy: “Will be determined on a later date.”
Dr. Kissinger: No, we have to say by whom. He agreed earlier “by the conference.”
Xuan Thuy: If you [don’t]2 want the sentence, then let’s drop it.
Dr. Kissinger: Drop (h) altogether?
Xuan Thuy: Drop the proposed sentence.
Dr. Kissinger: It is very difficult for us, it’s impossible for us, to go to a self-respecting country and ask it to participate in an international machinery in the formation of which it has absolutely no voice. The price we pay for this speed is that occasionally a sentence slips through all our reviews without being caught.
Xuan Thuy: Here I think that it is two different bodies. The International Commission is established by the four parties and not by the international conference. Since it is established by the four parties, all the means of activity of the Commission, all the organization of the Commission, will be supplied by the four parties.
Dr. Kissinger: I understand this, but after the international conference meets it should review these arrangements.
Xuan Thuy: The International Commission [conference] has no right to do this. They should not decide this. Well, we will leave this question aside and the US and the DRV will discuss it later.
Dr. Kissinger: But when?
Xuan Thuy: It is to be considered as one point on which we have not agreed.
Dr. Kissinger: Well, we can do that for the time being but we have to decide how we shall handle disagreed points.
Xuan Thuy: Let us see Article 14. I agree to your view on Article 14.
Dr. Kissinger: Thank you. Can you read it to me just to make sure?
Xuan Thuy: I have not finished. As to the international conference, the last part of this article, I agree to the composition of the international conference, but I would like to add India.
Dr. Kissinger: [Laughs] Then we will add Japan.
Xuan Thuy: India has been the chairman of the International Control Commission. We have proposed India to the new International Commission but you disagreed to that, but I think that we should let India participate in the international conference. But Japan is quite [Page 777] different from India. Japan invaded Vietnam and aroused strong feeling among the Vietnamese. It is different from India.
Dr. Kissinger: Well, but India is simply not acceptable to us. You can tell this to the Indians. We don’t object to your telling them that we vetoed this.
Xuan Thuy: What are your reasons to reject India?
Dr. Kissinger: Well, if you read the public statements of the Indian Prime Minister you will understand. They have taken a consistently negative position to us. Nor have they any organic relationship to Vietnam.
Xuan Thuy: But when Mrs. Gandhi makes a statement, it is just like any other Prime Minister who makes a statement. But India has been chairman of the International Control Commission. We have made a concession to you to not put India in the Commission.
Dr. Kissinger: You can put India in the Commission as one of your nominees; we have no objection to having India as one of your nominees. We object to India as a chairman. And that way if you nominate India it can participate. So under these conditions if you want to eliminate Poland or Hungary, then India can come to the conference.
Xuan Thuy: So you disagree to the participation of India in the international conference.
Dr. Kissinger: Yes, we will be glad to tell them that ourselves.
Xuan Thuy: We agree to your composition. Verbally. We agree to each other verbally, to the composition of the Commission, but we have not agreed to put it in the agreement yet.
Dr. Kissinger: How about the thirty days?
Xuan Thuy: Agreed.
Dr. Kissinger: As I understand the Minister, he’s agreed to the composition of the conference verbally, but he reserves toward India in writing.
Xuan Thuy: So you have disagreed to the participation of India in the international conference?
Dr. Kissinger: That is correct.
Xuan Thuy: But we should set aside this question on India. I agree to the present composition, but we should not yet write into the agreement the present composition because we have to approach these countries. After they agree to participate, then we shall put their names in.
Dr. Kissinger: Let me just understand what we are saying. You have agreed to this composition subject only to their agreement to participate, but before the agreement is signed we shall write them all in.[Page 778]
Xuan Thuy: Before the signing.
Dr. Kissinger: Can’t we say now “The following countries will be invited to participate in this international conference”?
Xuan Thuy: For the time being we should not draft the names of these countries. Before the signing then we shall put them in.
Dr. Kissinger: Well, who’s going to approach them? It is understood that once we’ve agreed we will approach them. No one will see the text until we’ve signed it.
Xuan Thuy: If now we write the name of the countries in, it will create complications.
Dr. Kissinger: Why?
Xuan Thuy: Because we have to approach them. If they disagree and they come to know that their name has been put in . . .
Dr. Kissinger: Well, they’re bound to know their name was put in if they’re approached. The only way you can avoid having them know their name was put in is if they’re not approached, and if they’re not approached we won’t have a conference.
Xuan Thuy: So both sides can have an understanding to take note of these countries but not to publish them.
Dr. Kissinger: But what does “taking note” mean?
Xuan Thuy: We agree to that but we do not put the names of these countries now.
Dr. Kissinger: But I simply fail to understand the reasoning. If we put the names down then we accept them. If they agree then it will be published in the agreement. If they don’t agree then we have a problem and we shall discuss it. But if we don’t write the names down, then what have we accomplished? If we just keep it in mind, then what happens?
Xuan Thuy: If you want to write the name of a country in a separate paper between us, we agree to that. After this you approach the countries you presented, we approach the countries we presented. Those who agree we shall let each other know.
Dr. Kissinger: But I don’t get it. No one is going to see this document whether we write it between us or in this document. Until it’s signed it’s not an official document anyway.
Xuan Thuy: We leave this paragraph aside for the moment.
Dr. Kissinger: All right.
Xuan Thuy: Chapter VII, with regard to Cambodia and Laos.
Dr. Kissinger: We have no changes.
Xuan Thuy: Neither do I. [Laughs] Now, in Chapter VIII, we agree to the chapter except for one word. After the first sentence you write “In pursuance of its traditional policy, the United States . . .” I propose [Page 779] to delete “In pursuance of its traditional policy” and the sentence will begin “The United States will contribute . . .”
Dr. Kissinger: We can’t do that. This is going further than we can really go. It’s a statement of fact; we’ve done that after every war.
Xuan Thuy: Why not put, after the first sentence, “In this spirit the United States will contribute to . . .”
Dr. Kissinger: No, we have to say “in pursuance of its traditional policy.” This is absolutely the maximum we can do here. We should really not put anything in the agreement.
Xuan Thuy: I will delete the word “traditional.”
Dr. Kissinger: No, you can delete the word “policy.” [Laughter] “In pursuance of its tradition.” I am terribly sorry, but on this issue—which is already very emotional in America—we will already be very severely criticized.
Xuan Thuy: But it is also a very emotional word for the Vietnamese too. When they read that, it is a great emotion for them.
Dr. Kissinger: Why is it an emotion why we do it? Our motives are irrelevant. The operative sentence for the Vietnamese is that “The United States will contribute . . .” I told the Special Adviser on many occasions that I could not put anything into the agreement that refers to this, and this is the absolute maximum that we can do.
Xuan Thuy: We propose that we do not want to say anything after that. To make the relationship between the US and DRV better afterward, we should make the two peoples understand each other.
Dr. Kissinger: I don’t understand it. Will you say it again?
Xuan Thuy: I like to say that to make the relationship between the Democratic Republic of Vietnam and the United States better and better, then we should make the Vietnamese people and the American people understand each other.
Dr. Kissinger: I agree with that.
Xuan Thuy: And when the Vietnamese people read the word “traditional,” then they have the emotions in the opposite direction as to the American people. Words you disagree to—we have agreed to change them.
Dr. Kissinger: We can delete the whole sentence. [Laughter]
Xuan Thuy: We want to propose the problem again. We consider that we have not reached agreement on this question. We leave it aside for the moment.
Dr. Kissinger: All right. I have an amazing comment to make to the Minister. I now have a comment on paragraph 18, even though I accepted it last time. I would like to delete the French version. I don’t see why we need a French version. We don’t have one yet, and it will [Page 780] delay us even more. Just the English and Vietnamese version. It’s an anti-colonialist proposal! [Laughter]
Xuan Thuy: The Vietnamese and English are official and authentic; the French text is used for a working document. Now we use “the Vietnamese and English text are official.”
Dr. Kissinger: We can do it maybe after the signing. That’s all right. If there’s no time pressure, we agree to it. Shall we say “subsequently a French text will be prepared for reference”? In other words, we say “done in Vietnamese and English . . . equally authentic. Subsequently a French text will be prepared for reference.”
Xuan Thuy: Agreed.
Dr. Kissinger: Good.
Xuan Thuy: “It will be”—regarding Article 18— “It will be strictly implemented by all the parties concerned.” We would like to list the specific names here: “By the Government of the DRV, the Government of the US, the Government of the PRG, and the Government of the Republic of Vietnam.”
Dr. Kissinger: But then all four will have to sign it. How about my friends the South Koreans—do they have to implement it?
Xuan Thuy: They have to.
Dr. Kissinger: I think we are better off with the phrase “by the parties concerned.” They are mentioned in every paragraph. It’s not a big issue of principle for us.
Xuan Thuy: I want it to be clearer. But if you want it, it’s okay with me.
Dr. Kissinger: So we leave it out?
Xuan Thuy: Yes.
Dr. Kissinger: All right, we leave it out. It was one of our most eloquent paragraphs. [Laughter]
[There was a short working break from 8:10–8:20 p.m.]
Xuan Thuy: Let us resume.
Now let us return to the two major questions, the question of the return of the prisoners and the question of the replacement of armaments.
Dr. Kissinger: Exactly.
Xuan Thuy: So what are your views on Chapter III, Article 8?
Dr. Kissinger: Well, we have given you the paragraph which we think is possible [Tab C]. And we would add to it that after we have been in Saigon we will give you the number of prisoners that will be released without any discussion, and a promise of a maximum influence by the United States to realize Article 21(b).[Page 781]
Xuan Thuy: I am afraid that if you keep your formulation on Article 8(a) then we do not reach an agreement, if you stick to the word “innocent civilians.” Unless you add the civilian detainees captured for political reasons. And if you disagree with that, then we repeat the Article of the Geneva Agreement.
Dr. Kissinger: 21(b).
Xuan Thuy: I have read the proposal to you. That is to say “The return of all people of the parties captured and detained for their participation in any form in the political and armed struggle of the parties shall be carried out simultaneously with and completed at the same time as the troop withdrawal mentioned in Article 5.”
Dr. Kissinger: Well, it is absolutely impossible, I know, to get Saigon to agree to this article on the schedule we have arranged—and probably on any other schedule that I can foresee. It’s a fact that we are facing. Now if you want to avoid the word, we are trying to find a formulation to avoid the word “innocent civilians,” which I can understand is a difficult word for you because it implies that civilians detained are guilty. So that’s what we are trying to find now. [Dr. Kissinger confers with Ambassador Sullivan, Lord and Negroponte.] Well, if you want to avoid the word “innocent civilians,” if you want to say “non-Vietnamese civilians” [in (a)], then we cover all Vietnamese civilians under Article 8(c). That was our intent. And then we could say in 8(c), “the question of Vietnamese civilian personnel.”
It’s a very difficult problem. But until we’ve been in Saigon we can’t go further than we have.
Mr. Phuong: “Non-Vietnamese”—it is a little confused. It is not clear.
Dr. Kissinger: You want to say “foreign civilians”?
Xuan Thuy: If you separate 8(a) from 8(c), then it would be discrimination, because in our view all military personnel, civilian personnel captured during the war because of their opposition to one or the other side should be released within two months.
Dr. Kissinger: I know your view.
Xuan Thuy: If, as you have done, people covered by 8(a) will be returned and people covered by 8(c) are not returned within two months but it is subject to consultation between the two South Vietnamese parties. Therefore, we still feel that the provision in the Geneva Agreement is in general terms and conforms to the situation.
Dr. Kissinger: Well, how shall we proceed then? Because we cannot go further today than we have.
Xuan Thuy: We have discussed two major questions related to each other, the question of release of prisoners and the question of replacement of weapons. We have agreed on the return of military [Page 782] personnel. Regarding the civilian detainees, you have understood our feelings and the importance of this subject for the Vietnamese people.
Dr. Kissinger: Yes, very well, and I sympathize with your feelings.
Xuan Thuy: Therefore we propose to maintain the provisions of the Geneva Agreement regarding the release of civilian detainees. If so, we would propose one sentence for the replacement of weapons. It is the following: “On the principle of equality and for the purpose of maintaining peace and not for offensive objectives, the two South Vietnamese parties will be permitted to carry out periodical replacements of weapons, munitions, and war material damaged and worn out after the ceasefire on the principle of piece-for-piece and same characteristics and properties, under the supervision of the Joint Military Commission of the two South Vietnamese parties and of the International Commission of Control and Supervision.”
Dr. Kissinger: Well, “On the principle of equality” I don’t quite understand. I don’t object to the phrase “for the purpose of maintaining peace and not for offensive objectives.” Can you read it to me again, Mr. Phuong?
Mr. Phuong: “On the principle of equality and for the purpose of maintaining peace and not for offensive objectives, the two South Vietnamese parties will be permitted to carry out periodical replacements of weapons, munitions, and war material damaged and worn out after the ceasefire on the principle of piece-for-piece and same characteristics and properties, under the supervision of the Joint Military Commission of the two South Vietnamese parties and of the International Commission of Control and Supervision.”
Dr. Kissinger: We can’t accept the first phrase because it’s ambiguous—“on the principle of equality.” But the rest, if we can put it in better English.
Xuan Thuy: And if you agree to write down the Article 21(b) of the Geneva Agreement, then we would agree to put this sentence and we would agree to delete the question the word “the principle of equality”—or to use “spirit of equality.”
Dr. Kissinger: [Laughs] No, it would have to be deleted. We have a very realistic problem on 21(b). It doesn’t make any difference what we put down here. We must have consultation in Saigon on this subject. If we put it down here and there’s no possibility of its being realized and it leads to a repetition of 1968, what purpose is served? We have achieved so much already now in our negotiations. We’re so close to an agreement that certainly we will solve the outstanding questions. So we must not get so impatient that we jeopardize what has already been achieved. We have not had a chance to present any of this in Saigon except in the most general way. We do not know what the [Page 783] reaction will be, but we do not expect it to be enthusiastic. Now if we add clauses that are totally unacceptable, we trigger a repetition of 1968.
So you and we have a common interest now to proceed as rapidly as possible but also in a manner that achieves our objective. And therefore it is not ill will on our part. On the issue of prisoners we really understand you better than on many of the disputes that we have had. We know what an anguishing problem it is for you, and there are many things we can do practically over a period of time. But it’s senseless for us to write something down that we cannot quickly implement.
What I can do is, after our consultations in Saigon I can let you know with some assurance what there is a chance of getting accepted. We have done this with great speed and with total secrecy. And this is where our dilemma now arises.
Xuan Thuy: You have understood what difficulty we have . . .
Dr. Kissinger: Very well.
Xuan Thuy: And we, we understood you.
Dr. Kissinger: Well, how shall we leave it then?
Xuan Thuy: What about your writing a sentence “in the spirit of Article 21(b) of the Geneva Agreement,” without mentioning the Article 21(b).
Dr. Kissinger: Where would you put this? That in principle sounds all right, but I want to know where.
Xuan Thuy: In place of Article 8(a).
Dr. Kissinger: What would you say?
Xuan Thuy: “The return of all people of the parties captured and detained for their participation in any form in the political and armed struggle for their parties shall be carried out simultaneously with and completed on the same day as the troop withdrawal mentioned in Article 5.” Without mentioning that this is excerpted from anywhere.
Dr. Kissinger: Two problems we have with this remain. One is, it links release of our prisoners to release of prisoners in South Vietnam, and secondly, the practical problem is that I don’t know whether the South Vietnamese will agree to it. And my estimate is that they will not.
Xuan Thuy: So I propose that we put aside these two questions, release of prisoners and the question of replacement of weapons, and you will go to Hanoi as scheduled and you will meet our leaders there and I believe that we can reach agreement, a satisfactory settlement. Because in any case you have to exchange views with the Saigon people. So I propose we shall finish all the settlement on our other problems and leave behind these two questions.
Dr. Kissinger: But I must say this. For us to go to Hanoi is a matter of very great consequence. To go to Hanoi with two of the most [Page 784] important issues not settled is a matter that—and if they are then not settled while I am in Hanoi—would have very bad consequences. In that case I would suggest the following: That after I have been in Saigon and have obtained their views on the prisoners and other matters, that the Special Adviser and Minister and I meet again—maybe in Vientiane, so that you don’t have to travel so far—that we then settle the issue, and that the visit to Hanoi be after we have a final document. Because it is neither in your interest nor in our interest to have a visit to Hanoi which is not certain to lead to an agreement.
Xuan Thuy: Shall we discuss the other matters and leave aside these two problems?
Dr. Kissinger: Well, let’s discuss the other matters and leave aside these two problems, and if we can’t settle them I will urgently request instructions from the President and be in touch with you tomorrow.
Xuan Thuy: Shall we discuss the remaining matters?
Dr. Kissinger: All right. What issues do you think are unsettled?
Xuan Thuy: Chapter II, Article 3(b).
Dr. Kissinger: “Associated with.”
Xuan Thuy: I disagree to your word “associated.”
Dr. Kissinger: Well, let’s set it aside again and let’s go through the others. [Thuy laughs.] What else?
Xuan Thuy: There is this question of “set up within fifteen days an administrative structure called the National Council of National Reconciliation and Concord.”
Dr. Kissinger: Yes, well that we can’t possibly accept. I mean, that was never in any draft we have seen. It is totally inconsistent with the rest of the discussion. I thought the Minister withdrew it.
Xuan Thuy: How about a six-months period?
Dr. Kissinger: We can’t accept any time period, other than the three months period. These are both totally new ideas.
Xuan Thuy: Article 9(g), the last sentence.
Dr. Kissinger: No, no, we’ve withdrawn that.
Xuan Thuy: We propose to keep the sentence back.
Dr. Kissinger: No, no, we withdrew it. Your telegram was so convincing that we withdrew it. I offered that before you said anything.
Xuan Thuy: On international conference, (h).
Dr. Kissinger: Well, you see the problem with (h) is, Mr. Minister, that you have so many opportunities to hamstring this Commission that if you already set it up in such a way that it has unanimity, if you are determined it doesn’t operate, you can find ways of doing it. But for us to agree to something that is so patently unworkable and will expose us to so much ridicule in America—that is simply impossible. [Page 785] All we are asking for is your own sentence, that the relationship to the conference will be established by the conference. You will be at the conference, your friends will be at the conference—I do not believe that you will be very reluctant to express your views.
Xuan Thuy: We agree to that “the relationship will be decided on a later date.”
Dr. Kissinger: No, not “at a later date.” “By the conference.”
Xuan Thuy: The conference has no right to decide it.
Dr. Kissinger: No, no, that’s what we have to discuss; that’s where we disagree.
Xuan Thuy: Because the four parties agree on the organization of the International Commission. And if the international guarantee conference decides on this question it is not logical. And for the time being we don’t know yet what the international conference will do. Now we have written that the international conference will acknowledge the signed agreement guaranteeing the end of the war, maintaining peace.
Dr. Kissinger: Well, these are all functions in which the Commission is involved.
Xuan Thuy: The International Commission has its own task of controlling and supervising these questions. Now we don’t affirm that the International Commission has no relation at all with the international conference, nor do we say that how the relationship between these two bodies will be, but we say that the relationship will be decided later.
Dr. Kissinger: But by whom? We are not saying what the relationship shall be. We are not saying anything other than that the conference will establish it, I mean the relationship will be determined by the conference. If the conference decides there should be no relationship, that is a possible outcome.
Xuan Thuy: So we put this question aside.
Dr. Kissinger: All right. How about the countries of the conference?
Xuan Thuy: We would like to leave the names of the countries to afterward, but if you like to mention it we should write that we propose to invite these countries.
Dr. Kissinger: “The following parties will be invited to participate.”
Xuan Thuy: Countries or parties?
Dr. Kissinger: Parties.
Xuan Thuy: How will you write the sentence?
Dr. Kissinger: “The following parties will be invited to participate in the international conference.”[Page 786]
Xuan Thuy: We propose the following: “The Democratic Republic of Vietnam and the United States will propose that the following parties participate in the conference.”
Dr. Kissinger: Well, you’ve already agreed to the first paragraph? “The parties agree to the convening of an international conference within thirty days of the signing of this agreement.”
Xuan Thuy: Agreed. And then it reads “The Democratic Republic of Vietnam and the United States will propose the following parties to participate in the international conference.”
Dr. Kissinger: Now if this is signed by four parties we’ll have to adjust it. Oh no, that’s all right, we’ll leave it. We’ll accept it. It’s what you’ve said; it’s just better English. “That they participate.”
Xuan Thuy: So you do not accept the time limits of six months and fifteen days? I agree not to put it in the agreement, but we still feel it necessary to have a time limit to these questions.
Dr. Kissinger: Well, it was never discussed in any of the previous sessions.
Xuan Thuy: But there are many questions that you have not raised previously and you are raising them.
Dr. Kissinger: But not of such a fundamental importance. The basis for our discussions previously was that . . . the reason we made such rapid progress last week was because the Special Adviser said in effect he was accepting the framework of our May 8 proposal. And it was never raised last week. We hadn’t even . . .
Xuan Thuy: I think that Special Adviser Le Duc Tho never said that he accepted the proposal in the framework of the May 8 proposal.
Dr. Kissinger: I think if you look at the protocol of October 8, that is what he said, and he therefore accepted my proposal that there be a three-month interval between the political solution and the military solution.
Xuan Thuy: I would like to say that “all internal affairs, matters of South Vietnam, should be resolved within three months, but the major questions should be settled first and the remaining questions will be gradually resolved within the time period.”
Dr. Kissinger: Well, I have no objection to this. I’m just saying it has never been discussed before.
Xuan Thuy: Shall we discuss it now?
Dr. Kissinger: Well, we can discuss it. I must tell you in the time we have we are not going to settle it. I would be glad to settle it but there is no possibility. It is totally outside my instructions, totally outside the framework I presented to the President, so there’s really no possibility of getting it settled. It totally changes the character of the agreement.[Page 787]
Xuan Thuy: Since there is no time for discussion of this question, I agree not to put the time limit of six months and fifteen days in the agreement.
Dr. Kissinger: I appreciate that.
Xuan Thuy: But the points you make in the agreement, now you should drop them.
Dr. Kissinger: What do you mean?
Xuan Thuy: For instance the question of forces “associated to,” the question of relationship of International Commission with the international conference.
Dr. Kissinger: No, I cannot give up the relationship of the International Commission to the conference. But if you agree to that sentence we will drop the phrase “associated with.”
Xuan Thuy: We have dropped “associated”—now you raise a question to exchange for another question. It makes no sense.
Dr. Kissinger: All right. Independent of “associated with” or “exchange,” our position has been stated innumerable times that there has to be international supervision. Even the Special Adviser had great difficulty keeping a straight face when I asked him to explain to me what it meant. It will be totally ridiculous. Now if on top of this we say the four parties are the only ones who determine its procedures, expenditures and actions, then we don’t have international supervision. On its merits, it is essential for us to have some sentence as we gave—“it will be determined by the conference.” That doesn’t mean that the conference will determine it favorably, but at least it means that the parties to the conference will have a chance to express themselves.
Xuan Thuy: But I would like to say this. First, from the very beginning, we have repeatedly said that the question of “associated to” and so on, or the question of North Vietnamese troop withdrawal from South Vietnam, then never will there be a settlement. We have repeatedly said this and you have agreed to this. If now you raise the question again, then we have new difficulties.
Dr. Kissinger: No, I have never agreed to it; I have attempted to avoid formulations of it in the document. I have never agreed to the principle of it. Secondly, we have consistently said that there must be international supervision. Every President who has addressed this problem has said this. What you have here is very little supervision, even with that sentence we would like to write in. Without it you don’t have international supervision—you have supervision by the parties over the supervisors, you have vetoes by the parties over the supervisors, which you already have. That is the difficulty.
Xuan Thuy: We have no objection at all to the relationship between the International Commission and the international conference. We only say that this relationship should be discussed later.[Page 788]
Dr. Kissinger: At the conference.
Xuan Thuy: And the conference will discuss it, but there should not be a specific sentence on it.
Dr. Kissinger: But why not, if that’s your view?
Xuan Thuy: Because the international conference is not convened yet.
Dr. Kissinger: That’s why we say the relationship of the International Commission to the conference will be discussed—or decided or determined, or agreed to—at the conference. The next sentence says the conference will meet in thirty days, so it won’t happen before thirty days.
Xuan Thuy: So these following problems are left to us now: First, the question of return of the prisoners; second, the question of replacement; third, the question of relationship between the International Commission and the international conference.
Dr. Kissinger: And fourth, the question of Saigon, that’s my problem. And the question of “associated with.”
Xuan Thuy: We can, to speed up our work, put the sentence that the relationship between the International Commission and the international conference will be agreed upon later.
Dr. Kissinger: [Laughs] No, but we’ve already rejected that five times. If you say “will be agreed upon at the conference,” we’ll be in good shape.
Xuan Thuy: “. . . will be agreed upon by the International Commission and the international conference”?
Dr. Kissinger: Sure. And of course the International Commission is participating in the conference, sure. All right, I agree.
Xuan Thuy: You agree to drop the word “associated”?
Dr. Kissinger: All right. I agree, it’s dropped.
Xuan Thuy: Now there are two problems left. We have put forward clear formulas.
Dr. Kissinger: Well, we can accept your formula on replacements if you drop the beginning of it. I will read to you what we can accept: “For the purpose of maintaining peace and not for offensive purposes, the two South Vietnamese parties will be permitted to carry out periodic replacements of arms, munitions and materials worn out, damaged, or destroyed after the ceasefire on the basis of piece-for-piece and of similar characteristics and properties under the supervision of the two-party Joint Military Commission and the International Commission.”
Xuan Thuy: If you agree to write the provision on the release of prisoners, captured people, as I proposed, then I accept this.
Dr. Kissinger: [Laughter] I understand, Mr. Minister. Well, first we have to get this language . . . I have explained to you, Mr. Minister, it [Page 789] isn’t ill will on the prisoner issue. Of all the issues which we have discussed in the time we have been meeting, the one on which I have the greatest sympathy is the prisoner issue. There is no American interest in keeping your prisoners there. So it’s not ill will. And the problem is the practical difficulty of what we can ask in Saigon tomorrow evening when we get there. I can write anything into the agreement, but if when I get to Saigon it isn’t accepted, then it won’t do any good. This is our problem.
Xuan Thuy: You want us to make concessions to you on one question and another, but on our problem you make no concession.
Dr. Kissinger: No, it’s not our concession to make.
Xuan Thuy: As I told you this afternoon, you want that all American pilots be released, all people of Saigon captured by the PRG be released, but the people of the PRG captured by the Saigon Administration, the Saigon Administration wants to keep them and it is not fair and you say that you are sympathizing.
Dr. Kissinger: No, I think all the people of the South Vietnam captured by the PRG can also be held until there is an agreement.
Xuan Thuy: At the beginning you said that the Saigon Administration doesn’t want to release the people of the PRG for fear that those released people will rejoin the liberation forces and oppose the Saigon Administration. Then it is contrary to our good will and to the good will of the PRG. If our purpose is to wipe out enmity and hatred, to realize national reconciliation and concord, then this thinking of the Saigon Administration will lead to the increase of conflict and enmity. It is a fact, and it is an expression of our feeling with respect to this question. But speaking of fairness and reason, after the ceasefire, two months after the ceasefire, then all captured people of the parties should be released.
Dr. Kissinger: I understand your position. I will take it up earnestly in Saigon, and I will give you an answer. But I lack any basis at this moment for making a recommendation.
Xuan Thuy: Now I propose the following. So we have agreed on the questions of the agreement. But there are two outstanding questions, the question of return of people of the parties captured during the war and the question of replacement of armaments. We still disagree. So these two questions cannot be solved tonight. If you say that you should consult the Saigon Administration, if so I am afraid that all our agreement here will not be agreed to. Because the Saigon Administration will disagree to everything. So if we stick to the schedule we have agreed upon you will go to Saigon and you will go to Hanoi with these two questions to be settled there. If you feel that this problem of your visit to Hanoi does not suit you no longer, then it is up to [Page 790] you. Because you have your program and we have ours. We shall not prolong.
Dr. Kissinger: Well, we must do . . . having come this far, we must do what is most effective to bring peace. That is the most important consideration. We have come this far that I am convinced we will settle the outstanding issues. In what time frame we settle them and by what methods, that depends on the circumstances that we find.
Xuan Thuy: It is up to you. I just point out these two problems. We have made an effort. I know that you have made efforts too, but both sides should make efforts. I know that we have settled many problems, but these two problems we can’t settle tonight. I think that these two problems may be satisfactorily settled when you go to Hanoi. But if you cancel your program to visit Hanoi, it is up to you.
Dr. Kissinger: Well, I will have to consult the President, and I will have to see what the possibilities are that I find in Saigon. Our most important objective for our two sides now should be to settle the war, the quicker the better. We maintain every agreement we have made here. And we are certain that we can find some means of overcoming the remaining difficulties. But we should not tie ourselves to one particular time schedule. I am certain that if we cannot do it this week we will settle it in a matter of weeks.
I don’t suppose there is enough time to suggest alternative methods of handling the prisoner issue, but I think I have proposed it already: We could say in paragraph 8(a) that “The captured military personnel and civilians of the DRV and of the U.S. and of those parties other than Vietnamese allied with the United States” and then under 8(c) we could say, “the personnel of the Vietnamese parties . . .”
Also, we never discussed your unilateral statement about Americans held in Laos and Cambodia.
One other possibility is that the Special Adviser would agree to meet me say in Vientiane to work out these difficulties.
Xuan Thuy: Is that a new formula you proposed?
Dr. Kissinger: Yes. That is 8(a).
Xuan Thuy: So if you write 8(a) like this, then “the return of military personnel and civilian personnel of the DRV, the U.S. and of non-Vietnamese parties allied with the United States,” they will be returned in that time period, then the people of the PRG will not be returned. Moreover you mentioned the DRV here; there is no DRV people in South Vietnam.
Dr. Kissinger [laughs]: Well, if we don’t leave now we’ll never get to Saigon.
Xuan Thuy: It is up to you. We have done our utmost and you do not want it and you want to prolong it. You proposed a schedule—[Page 791]we accepted this schedule, and now you say that this schedule depends on your trip to Saigon and you have to consult in Saigon, and you say that it will be a matter of a couple of weeks and we will settle the problem. It is clear that you want to drag out this negotiation.
Dr. Kissinger: There’s absolutely no sense in attacking each other’s motives. The Special Adviser has pointed out to me many times that it was not sensible to go to Hanoi unless an agreement was already achieved, because otherwise the disappointment would be too great. We do not want to drag it out. I am prepared to meet this weekend in Vientiane. I am prepared to come back here early next week. We should be able to settle this very quickly, and after we have achieved an agreement I maintain my position on going to Hanoi. So it is a common objective and we shall persevere; we have solved so many difficulties and we will certainly overcome this. We had hundreds of difficulties three weeks ago; we are down to two now. We had no text a week ago; we have a practically finished text now. So there is no question that we will succeed, and we want to succeed.
But if I don’t leave now I will miss everything else. I will communicate with you very rapidly. We’re talking of a delay that may be less than a week, not of several weeks. We must leave for Orly Airport because it closes. But I will be glad to meet the Special Adviser Saturday or Sunday in Vientiane to see whether we can resolve it.
Xuan Thuy: Let me speak one last sentence. We have done our utmost effort. Your trip to Hanoi is proposed by you. We thought it was your desire to go to Hanoi and to end the war and therefore we were prepared to accept you. Because normally speaking when two countries are at war there is no reason to receive you in Hanoi. It is because of a desire to end the war and restore peace and take into account of your views that we have decided that.
But your last statement makes it clear that you want to protract these negotiations. I have come to no other conclusion. So if the war continues and no peace is restored, it is your responsibility.
Dr. Kissinger: Well, we will end the war and we will end it within the next weeks, I am certain.
Xuan Thuy: I can tell you that we have our program too.
Dr. Kissinger: I will have to communicate with you. I must get instructions from the President.
Xuan Thuy: You have your schedule; we have our schedule.
Dr. Kissinger: We had agreed to the schedule—which was perhaps unwise of me because of the impatience to make peace—on the assumption that we would have a finished document today. But we maintain our offer to finish the document in the most rapid time possible and to meet the Special Adviser in some neutral place—which was my [Page 792] original proposal—complete the document, and when it is completed make the trip. Or to return to Paris early next week, complete the document and the following weekend go to Hanoi. We are not talking of a delay of a long time. We are talking about a brief delay. It is not unreasonable to want to discuss with our allies the making of the peace, to get an agreed document. But I would like to get the instructions of the President and to communicate with you and in the meantime to maintain our present plan.
Xuan Thuy: It is up to you to make the statement you have just made. But we can make no other conclusion than as I have told you, and I will not make no promise to your proposal.
Dr. Kissinger: Well, we are making peace because we both desire peace. I cannot believe that you will refuse to make peace because you insist that we must settle the war in Hanoi and on the basis of two very important unresolved issues. We have given you two proposals on how to settle the war quickly. It is up to you to decide which way we will proceed. On our part we shall maintain what has been agreed to, but we must go.
If we continue with our present schedule, here is the list of people who will come. [Hands over Tab D.] And here are some understandings about publicity which we would appreciate your confirming. [Hands over paper at Tab E.]
Xuan Thuy: This is your statement and we take note of this statement. [Hands over set of DRV unilateral statements, Tab F.]
Dr. Kissinger: But what is this?
Xuan Thuy: This is your statement and we acknowledge your statement.
Dr. Kissinger: Oh, the unilateral statements.
Xuan Thuy: Yes, unilateral statements. It is wrong to say that we do not want peace; it is really for the desire of peace and to end the war that we have taken such actions. Our failure to settle the problem tonight and how long it will take to do, this is your responsibility. We end our meeting tonight.
Dr. Kissinger: All right. We have to study these. We do not agree to every statement necessarily that you make here. My accepting it does not mean that I agree with this. I will confirm what is appropriate.
Xuan Thuy: Just as the unilateral statement you gave us, it does not mean that we accept everything you gave us, because you have given us many unilateral statements this week. But the main thing is the agreement.
Dr. Kissinger: That is right, because the bombing comments were made in the context of a settlement and a visit to Hanoi and not in the abstract. But we shall communicate with you on all of this.
[The meeting ended.]
Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 856, For the President’s Files (Winston Lord)—China Trip/Vietnam Negotiations, Sensitive, Camp David, Vol. XX [3 of 3]. Top Secret; Sensitive; Exclusively Eyes Only. The meeting took place at 108 Avenue du Général Leclerc in Gif-sur-Yvette. All brackets except where noted are in the original. The tabs are attached but not printed.
For the draft agreement that resulted from this meeting, see Appendix 2. Two days after this meeting, North Vietnam agreed to the U.S. positions on the two remaining major issues: the replacement of armaments and the release of imprisoned members and supporters of the Communist shadow government in the South, Articles 7 and 8. In the first instance, the North Vietnamese agreed to replacements on a piece-for-piece basis for those items worn out, damaged, or destroyed; in the second, North Vietnam agreed that the issue would be settled by the South Vietnamese parties after the cease-fire began. These two issues settled, the United States informed North Vietnam that “the text of the agreement can now be considered complete.” (Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, vol. IX, Vietnam, October 1972–January 1973, Document 30 and footnote 2 thereto).
Kissinger’s next task was to present the draft agreement to President Thieu in Saigon and obtain his approval. He flew directly to Saigon from Paris and began a series of meetings with Thieu on October 19.↩
- The bracketed word was supplied by the editor.↩