44. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Le Duc Tho, Special Advisor to DRV Delegation to the Paris Conference on Vietnam
  • Xuan Thuy, Minister, Chief DRV Delegate to Paris Conference on Vietnam
  • Nguyen Co Thach, Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs
  • Phan Hien, Delegation Member
  • Trinh Ngoc Thai, Delegation Member
  • Nguyen Dinh Phuong, Interpreter
  • Two Notetakers
  • Dr. Henry A. Kissinger, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
  • Ambassador William Sullivan, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State (at end)
  • George Aldrich, Deputy Legal Adviser, Department of State (at end)
  • Winston Lord, NSC Staff
  • John D. Negroponte, NSC Staff (at end)
  • David A. Engel, NSC Staff, Interpreter
  • Peter W. Rodman, NSC Staff
  • Mrs. Mary Stifflemire, Notetaker

Dr. Kissinger: I notice the Minister is determined to have the Avenue Kleber meeting tomorrow.

Xuan Thuy: We talked to the PRG people and they say that there is not so much change.

Dr. Kissinger: What do you mean?

Xuan Thuy: There is no reason for a change. We should have the usual meeting.

Dr. Kissinger: Can we be somewhat restrained tomorrow?

Xuan Thuy: I told them to be moderate.

Dr. Kissinger: I assume you will not be there.

Xuan Thuy: Yes, I will not.

Dr. Kissinger: Well, we told Mr. Isham to be very moderate.

Le Duc Tho: Shall we begin, Mr. Advisor?

Dr. Kissinger: Yes.

Le Duc Tho: Now in the agreement we are listing the remaining questions. As to the question of Article 3(a), we tried to find out some way to solve it but we could not do that. Therefore we think that we can leave as it is.

Dr. Kissinger: There must be something very unfavorable about it.

Le Duc Tho: To save our experts some efforts to find out words. We could not find words. If we put it the “Saigon Administration” probably you will not agree. [Laughter] We tried to find out some words but we could not. So we think that if now there is one place of mentioning of the Republic of Vietnam then we can accept it.

Dr. Kissinger: All right.

Le Duc Tho: Now the signing. How have you decided?

Dr. Kissinger: Frankly, we have been exchanging telegrams with Washington and Saigon and we have not had a conclusive answer that I can present to you, and I wonder whether we could leave it until tomorrow. We are trying to look into it in a constructive way.

Le Duc Tho: The efforts are aimed at solving the question of the agreement in the best way. So now we can say that the agreement is complete in the main, except the signing.

[Page 1223]

Dr. Kissinger: That is correct.

Le Duc Tho: This is the result of the efforts from both sides.

Dr. Kissinger: That is right.

Le Duc Tho: Now let us discuss a number of understandings.

Dr. Kissinger: Correct.

Le Duc Tho: Regarding the understanding on Laos and Cambodia. [See U.S. draft at Tab A.] I expounded very lengthily my views regarding these questions with you during our previous meetings. I said that the question of Laos is somehow different from the question of Cambodia. Last time regarding the question of Laos before I left you handed me a confirmation and then I accepted that, and in returning to Hanoi I sent you a message confirming the content of that.

Dr. Kissinger: When is that? In December?

Le Duc Tho: No, in October. Before I left in October. You gave us the confirmation on the question of Laos and I agreed to that. Then afterward there was a message from our Prime Minister addressed to the President of the United States. Regarding Cambodia, I told you at that time that this was my view expressed orally, verbally; it should not be written into a written understanding. During our meetings in October I told you that, because as you understand we have some difficulty in that connection. If it were not as difficult as the question of Laos I would have settled this question more positively and differently and I have done regarding Laos. I explained to you at length that and you said you understood me.

Now the message I sent to you and the statement I made to you, I maintain them. And I said that regarding the question of Cambodia, it should not be written as you wrote. Moreover there are places where the written language is not accurate and conforming to my oral statement. But in any case, in our message addressed to the President of the United States there was a sentence on Cambodia and this sentence reflected adequately the views I expressed. Therefore I think that the documents we sent you and my verbal statements are adequate. I think that we should think of long-term relationship; we should think of the future, about the implementation of this document. We should think of the implementation of the agreement, of all other understandings. So we think that regarding this question it is adequate.

Regarding the time for the ceasefire in Laos, it may be shortened. But you also should reduce the time period for the withdrawal of American civilian personnel.

Dr. Kissinger: One day for each month? [Tho laughs.]

Le Duc Tho: It does not mean that we want to prolong the war in Laos. So it is the desire of our allies too. So, regarding the time for the ceasefire in Laos, I agree now with you that it will happen 15 days [Page 1224] after the ceasefire in Vietnam. It does not mean that we want to prolong the war in Laos for 5 more days. I agree with you on 15 days but I will further talk with our allies. They may further reduce the period, but it is up to them. But I agree with you on that period of time—15 days. I will endeavor. But it depends on our allies. Maybe they may need some time to prepare for shifting into peacetime. It is not my haggling with you for a few days. But since we have decided to put an end to the war we should put an end to the war, not to bargain for a few more days.

Dr. Kissinger: So you are saying in any event 15 days. Maybe shorter, but not longer.

Le Duc Tho: Not longer than 15 days. I will exchange with my allies when I return there. But let them decide. But here I agree with you on 15 days. But our allies may further reduce the period, the time period. And if now our allies decide to reduce the period then they will discuss with the other side. So I need not to answer you again on that question.

Dr. Kissinger: All right. Just to sum up my understanding—in no case more than 15 days. Your allies may decide they can do it in less than 15 days.

Le Duc Tho: I will exchange views with them. But otherwise the longest period is 15 days.

Dr. Kissinger: The longest period is 15 days. All right. That is fine. Now let me point out one thing—it doesn’t make any difference practically whether 5 days more or less, whether 10 days or 15 days. We prefer the shortest possible period. I think it would make a very good impression in America if the period were the shortest possible. I think we have had many disappointments on the road to making peace, but if we now make peace we should really for both sides make a big effort to put our mutual relations on a basis of trust and normalization and reconciliation, and neither side should try to squeeze every advantage from the situation. And therefore in considering your talks with your allies, keep in mind the fact that it would be best in America if we could say the war is substantially over in Indochina.

Le Duc Tho: Now I and you agree on that period; but I take into account of your views in relation to the period.

Dr. Kissinger: That is why I said that. Now let me talk about Cambodia. I do not fully understand the exact nature of the difference between the two situations and what the practical consequence is.

Le Duc Tho: Now the point is with our allies in Laos we discussed with them and we may come to an agreement with them more easily. But with our allies in Cambodia it is with more difficulty when we discuss with them and come to an agreement with them. The circum[Page 1225]stances I explained to you last time, and you said you understood these circumstances. Speaking as far as we are concerned, when we put an end to the war in Vietnam, what is the use to continue the war in Laos and Cambodia? It is not logical. But in Cambodia it does not completely depend on us only, like in Laos. But as I told you, after the end of the war in Vietnam we will actively contribute to the restoration of peace in Cambodia.

Dr. Kissinger: Our understanding is that all of the supplies for Cambodia come through the DRV.

Le Duc Tho: [laughs] But after the ceasefire in Laos, how the supply can go through Laos? That is the reason you insisted upon the ceasefire in Laos.

Dr. Kissinger: But they could come theoretically through the PRG territory in Vietnam. I don’t want to give you any ideas, Mr. Special Advisor, that hadn’t occurred to you.

Le Duc Tho: No, you see, when the agreement comes into force—when the ceasefire becomes effective in Vietnam—there will be control by the International Commission. Moreover the forces will remain in place, so there is no possibility . . . Personally I am thinking that when peace is restored in Vietnam and in Laos, I think that Cambodia should go in the direction of peace too. As you see, in Laos we talked with our allies and we come to an agreement with them. We can settle the problem in this way.

Dr. Kissinger: But the Special Advisor stops in Peking so often and agitates his Chinese friends against us, maybe he should call on other people in Peking too. [Tho and Xuan Thuy laugh.] When the Special Advisor gets through in Moscow and Peking and they come to criticize me, I never know what agreement we are talking about any more. They come with such a long list of complaints. [Laughter] From now on I will ask for reciprocity—whenever you go to Peking or Moscow I will go.

Well, but let me again understand the following concretely. Under the agreement you cannot use base areas in Cambodia against Vietnam. That is not affected by the difficulties with your allies, is it?

Le Duc Tho: Chapter VII, Article 20 explicitly stipulates about that question. When we sign the agreement we will abide by the agreement.

Dr. Kissinger: Secondly, what will DRV forces in Cambodia do after the agreement?

Le Duc Tho: In the message addressed by our Prime Minister to the President of the United States [it] explicitly deals with this question, and concretely.

Dr. Kissinger: So you maintain—so my understanding is correct—that, again, regardless of your allies you will withdraw your forces from Cambodia.

[Page 1226]

Le Duc Tho: When there is a ceasefire in Cambodia we will discuss the question together, because there are in Cambodia not only Vietnamese forces but also Saigon forces, etc. Be assured that when we have settled the question of Vietnam and the question of Laos, then it doesn’t mean that we will continue the war in another place. If we do not want a peaceful settlement then it will become different.

Dr. Kissinger: Paragraph (d) of your Prime Minister’s message says “the DRV side declares that Article 15(b) providing that foreign countries shall stop all military activities in Laos and Cambodia, completely withdraw from and refrain from reintroducing, etc., is applied to all foreign armed forces, including those of the United States, Thailand, and the Vietnamese parties, etc.” That does not make it dependent on the ceasefire.

Le Duc Tho: But paragraph (d) is related to paragraph (c), the preceding paragraph, saying that “After the war in Vietnam is ended the DRV side will actively contribute to restoring peace in Cambodia. The DRV side has been clearly informed that there is no American captive in Cambodia.” So it is after the war in Vietnam is ended. When we made the statement we will honor our statement. But you should understand the objective situation, the objective conditions, in settling the war in accordance with your desire.

Dr. Kissinger: Yes, we understand the objective situation to some extent, and we want to pay attention to it. But we cannot create a situation where we make peace in two Indochinese countries and the war continues in the other. I recognize it may be difficult to create a legal ceasefire in Cambodia but I think it should be possible to create a de facto ceasefire. We have told you we propose to recommend to our ally in Cambodia that he declare unilaterally a ceasefire after the ceasefire in Vietnam is signed. If the war is continued by Vietnamese forces or by Cambodian forces, this will create a very difficult situation, which we have emphasized to you in our message of October 20th.

Le Duc Tho: I told you on many occasions that we want peace, we want peace in Vietnam and in Laos, and after peace is restored in Vietnam and in Laos we also want peace to be restored in Cambodia. Therefore I told you that when peace is restored in Vietnam then the objective conditions, partly, and our subjective desire on our part, will contribute to the peace in Cambodia. But practically speaking, when discussing with our allies in Cambodia it is not as easy as when we discuss with our allies in Laos. But I am firmly convinced that the restoration of peace in Vietnam and in Laos will create favorable conditions for the restoration of peace in Cambodia, some objective conditions for that. But as far as we are concerned when we have a peace in Vietnam and when our allies in Laos have peace in their country, it is illogical that we still want war in another place.

[Page 1227]

Dr. Kissinger: But knowing your very persuasive powers, having been exposed to them for such a period of time, it is difficult for me to believe that you cannot convince your Cambodian allies to have at least a de facto restraint on military activities while you try to effect your subjective desires.

Le Duc Tho: You are thinking only of our Cambodian allies but there are other allies who are very difficult to persuade. [Laughter] You are surely aware of that.

Dr. Kissinger: It is Moscow?

Le Duc Tho: It is precisely a complexity of Cambodia.

Dr. Kissinger: Well, when Marxists-Leninists rely on Princes they are in great difficulty. [Tho and Xuan Thuy laugh.]

Le Duc Tho: So you have correctly understood the problem now. But I am firmly convinced that the restoration of peace in Vietnam and in Laos will create the favorable conditions for peace in Cambodia. As far as we are concerned, as I told you, we will actively continue to that purpose. It is something I am very frankly telling you. Because when we and you have made peace, not only us but also you should create some conditions for mutual understanding—not only us but you too, you should do so.

Dr. Kissinger: And that will be our effort. But as the Special Advisor knows, in I would suppose all countries there is a division of opinion as to the desirability of making a settlement. If now after a settlement is made the conflict continues in one of the countries, then all those who have doubts will be reinforced, and the execution of the agreement will not be carried on with the same intensity which is required in order to have a real improvement of the situation. Indeed we will be drawn into military operations in Cambodia, and you would be, and then we will fight in Cambodia rather than in Vietnam, and that would be senseless.

Le Duc Tho: As far as we are concerned, when we make peace in Laos and when there is peace in Vietnam and when there is peace in Laos, there is no reason that we still want war in another country of Indochina. But you should understand that in Cambodia there are not only Vietnamese forces but there are also forces of our allies, and with our allies in Cambodia we can’t agree with them or they do not agree with us on everything. It is some objective situation and you should understand that. We do not agree with everything with them very easily, and this is the practical situation. But moreover I am always thinking that restoration of the peace in Vietnam and in Laos will create favorable conditions for the restoration of peace in Cambodia. And we will actively contribute to restoring peace in Cambodia.

Dr. Kissinger: Our view was expressed in our message, when we said: “If, pending a settlement in Cambodia, offensive activities are [Page 1228] taken there which would jeopardize the existing situation, such operations would be contrary to the spirit of Article 15(b) and to the assumptions on which this Agreement is based.” Are you familiar with that?

Le Duc Tho: You have reiterated your views in the message. As far as we are concerned, we have expounded our views in our message and I have just recalled this to you. What is said in the agreement, what is mentioned in my oral statement, what is mentioned in the understanding, we will carry out correctly, and you should do the same thing.

Dr. Kissinger: I agree. Now we have the following practical problem, namely how to record the understanding.

Le Duc Tho: Regarding Cambodia, as I told you as early as in October and on many occasions already, and my statement has been recorded in the proces-verbal, in the record. And since we began our negotiations, have you seen any case where I reversed my statement?

Dr. Kissinger: Yes. [Laughter] To be frank.

Le Duc Tho: No, that is not so. If there is any, there is some point in the agreement where we discuss and rediscuss.

Dr. Kissinger: Article 1.

Le Duc Tho: You want to refer to Article 8(c)?

Dr. Kissinger: Article 1.

Le Duc Tho: Regarding Article 1, our proposal you want to correct it and now we want to correct it. But moreover, this is a point under discussion. But when decision is made then we will abide by it. Regarding Laos, even if you do not record it on paper I will carry out my statement. You are aware that it is easier to come to an agreement with our allies in Laos. Therefore even if there is no specific understanding, only my statement and you have it in the record, I will carry it out.

Dr. Kissinger: But what is your concrete proposal?

Le Duc Tho: Our message mentioned about Cambodia, and my statement in the record. The Agreement it is explicit. In our message it is explicit. And we agreed to it that when peace is restored in Vietnam and in Laos we will actively contribute to the restoration of peace in Cambodia. This is a promise. It is absurd that when we make peace in Vietnam and in Laos we still want to fight in Cambodia. It is adequately settled. We should shift to another question.

Dr. Kissinger: No, because I don’t understand what the Special Advisor thinks—how he thinks it is settled. Can you explain to me precisely how you think it is settled? You want your message to be the understanding?

Le Duc Tho: Our message addressed to you of October 21 is the understanding between us. Plus the chapters on Laos and Cambodia [Page 1229] in the agreement. But in our message it is more complete. We will fulfill our obligations under the understanding. Your proposals regarding Laos, we have settled that.

Dr. Kissinger: I understand this. My question now is . . . But then the first sentence of your message has no antecedent.

Le Duc Tho: We have explicitly and concretely expounded our views in our message. Moreover my statement has been recorded. Regarding Laos that is no problem at all. Regarding Cambodia I have expounded the situation to you and I have talked to you privately on many occasions, and it is adequate. Moreover what verbal statement I made has been put into the record and I will carry out my obligations under these oral statements. It is not that I swallow my words. Throughout our negotiations we have come as a result to the agreement, the basic agreement.

Dr. Kissinger: It is essential for us to maintain, to state our view on offensive actions, in the last paragraph in our message.

Le Duc Tho: It is up to you to maintain your statement. I can’t prevent it. But you should realize our difficulty. I have spoken about this question on many occasions and particularly in October, and we accepted to your message, and the President of the United States felt he was satisfied with our acceptance.

Dr. Kissinger: Yes, but this implied the totality of the exchanges. We cannot have the President’s statement as a separate statement if we don’t have the other one.

Le Duc Tho: Our message in reply to your message is adequate and that led to the answer by the President of the United States. Since our reply was adequate, that explained why the President of the United States gave . . .

Dr. Kissinger: But your reply was adequate in the context of our first message, which we considered essentially accepted by your message.

Le Duc Tho: So in our message we said that we maintain what we had told you, and the following paragraph reflected the understanding between you and I.

Dr. Kissinger: Well, we interpreted it differently.

Le Duc Tho: We correctly understand what we verbally told you and what we wrote in our message.

Dr. Kissinger: Yes, but if you question what we have written down verbally, which is from our stenographic record—if you question that, then the stenographic record does not do us any good.

Le Duc Tho: No, in October I told you that regarding the question of Cambodia there should not be a written understanding. I told you verbally only. But in connection with the question on Laos you can have written understanding, and you agreed to that. But in our message [Page 1230] addressed to you, we had a sentence regarding Cambodia, and this sentence is a broad one. It covers adequately the question of Cambodia. You should understand our difficulties regarding Cambodia. Moreover, if we record it, it will complicate the problem later, and it is not in our mutual interest. It may happen that through a verbal statement the practical settlement is better and goes beyond the verbal statement. I have expounded this question very lengthily. We have put more than an hour to that question. We should shift to another. We will leave the practical situation in answer to your question.

Dr. Kissinger: I will give you an answer somehow to settle it tomorrow when we meet. I understand what you are proposing.

Le Duc Tho: And I have explained to you on this question on many ocassions, last time and this time. Shall we settle the question rapidly or shall we drag it on? I have explained to you on many occasions, and I can say that on this subject I have spoken to you very openly. You should carefully think over my statements. Regarding Laos, we settled it very easily, even in the question of 10 days for the ceasefire in Laos: I told you 15 days but I told you also that we should further exchange views with our ally. But regarding Cambodia, I told you that once the Vietnam problem and the Lao problem are peacefully settled we will actively contribute to the restoration of peace in Cambodia. It is something very objective, so the understanding is very adequate. As I told you, in practice the situation will bear out this question. I don’t know how you understand the problem but here we have the war in Vietnam, in Laos, in Cambodia: when the war in Vietnam and the war in Laos have been peacefully settled, there is no reason why the war in Cambodia will continue.

Dr. Kissinger: The Special Advisor is an expert on the war in Cambodia. He conducted operations there a long time. [Tho laughs]

Le Duc Tho: History will answer your question.

Dr. Kissinger: That is in the past. That is a fact.

Le Duc Tho: No one can think that if we have peacefully settled the war in Vietnam and it will follow in Laos, that we will still want to continue the war in another corner of Indochina. If we do not want a peaceful settlement then it is different. How shall we settle the Lao question? How should we agree with your allies in Laos? You should understand the practical, the real situation. Sometimes you stick to the wording and the sentence. You should understand the situation in accordance with the reality.

Dr. Kissinger: I will give you an answer tomorrow on how to handle it. I understand your point. And we won’t have to discuss it tomorrow; we will just settle it tomorrow and we won’t need any additional discussion.

[Page 1231]

Le Duc Tho: You should understand me. We have prolonged this question. But if you want to prolong, I will continue to discuss with you in this line. You see, the other day you said you wanted a rapid settlement. I have settled it. You should understand the rationale of that question.

Dr. Kissinger: But you must understand that in practice—we do not care about the legality, the formal obligation—but if in practice after there is peace in Vietnam and in Laos the war in Cambodia continues, it will make it very difficult to implement energetically the other provisions of the agreement.

Le Duc Tho: It is not quite correct, what you say. Here we have an agreement on Vietnam; we have to implement this agreement, and in the agreement there are many provisions. There are provisions on Cambodia, on Laos. We should implement them all. Likewise we can’t say that you, the U.S., you still maintain your troops, your planes in Thailand, so you maintain your bases there, you continue to make pressures on us and then it will threaten the implementation of the agreement. You can’t say that because each nation, each country is different.

Dr. Kissinger: But we have always maintained in every proposal, and it is no secret to you, that we want a ceasefire in all of Indochina. We are willing to have a de facto ceasefire, but there has to be a ceasefire.

Le Duc Tho: But you see, from the very beginning you propose a ceasefire throughout Indochina, but because of realities of each country we have to settle by stages, country by country.

Dr. Kissinger: I agree. But the result has to be the same.

Le Duc Tho: But we told you, and we can only tell you, that when peace is restored in Vietnam and in Laos, as far as we are concerned we will actively contribute to restoring peace in Cambodia. Why we can’t settle more concretely as we did in Laos, it is because of objective difficulties. We shall shift to another question for discussion.

Dr. Kissinger: All right.

Le Duc Tho: Regarding the question of American civilian personnel, we would like to have a simple understanding with you. Let me read out the understanding. [Tab B] The title is “On the Withdrawal of U.S. Civilian Personnel Associated with Military Functions in South Vietnam.” The U.S. undertakes to withdraw completely from South Vietnam and refrain from introducing into South Vietnam all civilian personnel of the United States and of the other foreign countries working in the armed forces of the Republic of Vietnam. The numbers of the above-mentioned civilian personnel shall be reduced gradually and their withdrawal will be completed within eight months of the signing of the Agreement on Ending the War and Restoring Peace in Vietnam. [Page 1232] Pending their withdrawal from South Vietnam none of the above-mentioned civilian personnel shall participate in military operations or operational military training.”

Now the question left here is the question of period. Your proposal of a 15-month period is too long. We have settled questions with you very quickly but you maintain this 15 months period, and it is no good.

Dr. Kissinger: It is based on a very careful study of what is realistic.

Le Duc Tho: So I put in general terms, but we do not mention categories.

Dr. Kissinger: No, the general terms I have no problem with.

Le Duc Tho: The question is now only the period of withdrawal.

Dr. Kissinger: That is correct.

Le Duc Tho: But 15 months are too many.

Dr. Kissinger: I am told they are too few.

Le Duc Tho: You see I have settled other time periods with you very easily, and you stick to this.

Dr. Kissinger: Yes, but it is a completely different problem. Because this involves certain objective necessities of technical competence, of which you have your own experience. Even you have certain technical advisors, and we are talking here about a number of technical personnel for complicated equipment. And in the October draft it was completely free. There was no restriction at all.

Le Duc Tho: But since then you have introduced a great quantity of armaments and civilian personnel. That is the reason why we have to raise the question with you. Moreover, you said that you want an end to U.S. military involvement in South Vietnam, and you said to me that you will withdraw all military personnel, military advisors, without any exception. That is why I raise the question with you. And moreover, I have taken into account of your necessities and therefore I told you you can keep them for some time, but after that you should withdraw them. But the time period is too long. You want to maintain them too long in South Vietnam. You should withdraw them more quickly. You should have realized that I have settled the question of the time period for the ceasefire in Laos very easily many times. I agree that you will maintain the civilian personnel for some time but it is too long.

Dr. Kissinger: Well, you say five days in the ceasefire in Laos, but it has no long term operative consequence. Its major utility is to enable us in America to start the new relationship in a positive way and not to have to conduct a war simultaneous with starting a new relationship. This provision is extremely disadvantageous to our allies because it has very concrete consequences and therefore we had to study how long it will take to train adequately Vietnamese personnel. All of our [Page 1233] experts have told us it will take 24 months. When I proposed 15 months it was probably a tactical mistake. Knowing the Special Advisor, I should have started at 24 and wound up at 15 as an act of good will. [Tho laughs] But I gave him what all of our experts tell us is an absolute minimum figure.

Le Duc Tho: But I should say that the question of Laos is not like you understand it. The ceasefire in Laos is very significant not only militarily but also politically. In your mind there is the situation only in the United States. It is not confirming to reality. So the 15 days regarding Laos is some reality, but 15 months there is also reality. But here I want to say only that it is too long a period. I would like that you will reduce it a little.

Dr. Kissinger: Let me make this suggestion. Let me say that the great majority will be withdrawn within 12 months and the remainder within 15 months.

Le Duc Tho: So let us put as follows: “They will gradually be withdrawn and will complete the withdrawal within ten months.”

Dr. Kissinger: That is out of the question.

Le Duc Tho: Ten months after the ceasefire is a long period, so that they can be withdrawn completely in ten months.

Dr. Kissinger: It is just physically impossible, ten months. What I have told you is possible. If we say the great majority in 12 months, or even say the remainder in 14 months. But there probably has to be a very small group of highly technical people.

Le Duc Tho: I have made my utmost effort regarding the time period. Because after the end of the war you should withdraw all your forces. Because if you remain there you will help the Saigon people to continue the war, and therefore we propose this time period. It is most reasonable.

Dr. Kissinger: Well, we cannot accept ten months, but let me see whether we can make another proposal tomorrow morning.

Le Duc Tho: All right. You will think it over. Shall we shift to another question?

Dr. Kissinger: Yes.

Le Duc Tho: Regarding 8(c).

Dr. Kissinger: I thought you were going to drop it.

Le Duc Tho: I will not drop it. I maintain your other commitment only.

Dr. Kissinger: We have tried to rephrase this and maybe you will translate it. [Hands over copy of Tab C. Mr. Phuong translates aloud in Vietnamese.]

Le Duc Tho: [Shaking head] We can’t accept this proposal of yours.

[Page 1234]

Dr. Kissinger: Why is that?

Le Duc Tho: Because when I proposed the symbolic redeployment of armed forces of the PRG, it was done in the framework of our demand to change completely 8(c). But you did not accept that proposal. We maintain 8(c) as it is. We maintain one engagement you made to us and we recall this question in our message addressed to the President of the United States. So the President of the U.S. was satisfied with our reply to replace Article 8(c) and the replacement of armaments, and considered the agreement was complete. And in this message we recall this engagement. Therefore we maintain this promise.

If you put now this complicated question I think it cannot be solved. So I think you are putting obstacles to the settlement of the Vietnam problem. I think you are putting obstacles to the settlement of the Vietnam problem. We can never accept that. I have also told you on many occasions about these questions. We maintain and we respect what we told you, but what you told us, you changed it. If you put this question I think that it will be never solved. And if you want to drag it on, then we will drag it on too, because there is no way to settle it. Last time I told you, on many times your commitment, you change it again and again. Have you seen any commitment made by us and we change it?

Dr. Kissinger: Yes, but we don’t want to debate it.

Le Duc Tho: It is not true. The understandings we made with you, we maintain them.

Dr. Kissinger: First of all the Special Advisor is a great theorist, but as an historian his method has its peculiar aspects. A message which he acknowledges he doesn’t consider binding. A message by us. But a message by him which we did not acknowledge, he considers binding.

Le Duc Tho: It is not true what you understand.

Dr. Kissinger: But in order to expedite this discussion, let me say the following. What we have said in the second paragraph is an objective fact. But it is not necessary to express it in an understanding, and therefore, in order to promote a rapid solution of this problem I will withdraw that second paragraph.

[At this point, 4:55 p.m., Messrs. Negroponte, Sullivan and Aldrich arrived and joined the meeting.]

Le Duc Tho: Shall we propose a little break, that I may consider this?

Dr. Kissinger: All right.

Ambassador Sullivan: Mr. Thach left ahead of us. I think he came by a shorter route.

Le Duc Tho: How is the result of your discussions today?

[Page 1235]

Ambassador Sullivan: We finished our work on the ceasefire and the Joint Military Commission protocol and left four subjects for buffalo trading.

Dr. Kissinger: I must borrow a few buffalo. I haven’t many left.

Le Duc Tho: Have you made some progress?

[Vice Minister Thach arrives.]

Ambassador Sullivan: Yes. Ask Mr. Thach.

Le Duc Tho: But Mr. Special Advisor has not made any progress here. So we have set an example for you to follow.

Dr. Kissinger: I still have my pants. He has already got my shirt.

Le Duc Tho: You have been attacking me today. And prolonging.

[There was a break in the discussions at 5:00 p.m. The Vietnamese group adjourned to the upstairs, while tea and light refreshments were served to the U.S. side in the meeting room. Kissinger and Tho conferred briefly privately. The meeting resumed at 5:45 p.m.]

Le Duc Tho: Now there are two understandings left to be discussed. On Article 8(c), I propose that you rewrite your statement of October 17.

It is very clear. Let me read it. “The U.S. side reaffirms the engagement made on October 17, 1972 by Dr. Henry Kissinger, Assistant to the President of the United States that the U.S. side will use its maximum influence over the Republic of Vietnam to secure the return of the greater part of the Vietnamese civilian personnel captured and detained in South Vietnam within two months of the signing of the Agreement (etc.) and the return of the rest during the third month.”

Dr. Kissinger: Do we have that in English? It is not often that people list both my academic and my government title. [Laughter]

Le Duc Tho: Please delete what is superfluous. [He hands over Tab D.]

Dr. Kissinger: My father who clips everything that has my name in it will be very pleased with it. [Laughter] Let me say we accept this in principle and we will rewrite it tonight so that Mr. Aldrich’s legal talents are not wasted. But we will stay within the principles and the substance of this. And we will bring it tomorrow. This will not be a major difficulty.

Le Duc Tho: Now, regarding the moving of U.S. aircraft carriers to 300 nautical miles from the shores of Vietnam. [Reads in Vietnamese] “The U.S. side reaffirms the statement in its message of October 20, 1972 and undertakes that as soon as the Agreement on Ending the War and Restoring Peace in Vietnam comes into effect aircraft carriers of the United States shall move their stationing points to 300 nautical miles off the coast of Vietnam except for transit purposes.”

Dr. Kissinger: First, of all, there is one respect in which I know this does not reflect our understanding, namely that whatever restriction [Page 1236] we accept can be implemented only after the withdrawal is completed, in other words after sixty days. Secondly, we have the difficulty, as I pointed out to the Special Advisor yesterday, that as a matter of principle we have not ever accepted any limitations on our naval deployment. And to accept such limitations with respect to a friendly country . . . it is one thing to accept it with respect to North Vietnam; it is another to accept it with respect to a country with which we are allied. But I have to get this question studied again overnight, because the initial reaction of Washington was very negative.

Le Duc Tho: Have you finished, Mr. Advisor?

Dr. Kissinger: Yes.

Le Duc Tho: On October 20 you made this statement and lately I discussed with you and you said that you will reconsider the question regarding the shores of “Vietnam” and not of “North Vietnam.” And now you want to change it again. We just record, we just put on paper, what you said previously. And we said it “except in transit,” so whenever you have to carry out transit journey then you can do that. Now regarding the words “shores of Vietnam,” during the war you used aircraft carriers to launch attacks against both North and South Vietnam. Now the war is ended, and if you keep aircraft carriers in South Vietnam then the pressure continues over South Vietnam.

Dr. Kissinger: Of course there is no question of our keeping them in South Vietnam.

Le Duc Tho: And you stated also on December 12, you did not say anything about sixty days, about the restriction applying only after sixty days, on December 12. So I think that you changed your statement again and again. I do not do that.

Dr. Kissinger: If you review the record of the meetings which refers to aircraft carriers, you will find that we always said this was after the withdrawal was completed. In October.

Le Duc Tho: Why is it you told this to me on October 20 and December 12?

Dr. Kissinger: As a practical matter it is simply impossible for us to deprive our friends in Vietnam of the protection of aircraft carriers while we are still there. That can never be done. On October 11 I said this precisely: “After the withdrawal of our forces is completed the aircraft carriers will be moved a distance of 300 miles.”

Le Duc Tho: But in December you did not say this.

Dr. Kissinger: Because I was still in the context of the other. But as a sign of good will we will be prepared to move them some distance away from the shores of North Vietnam right away. This is not the problem. North and South. I can give you this as an oral assurance that as soon as the agreement is signed we will move our carriers out of the Gulf of Tonkin.

[Page 1237]

Le Duc Tho: But you will maintain the aircraft carriers in South Vietnam to make pressure on us in South Vietnam. And I think that since peace is restored there is no reason to keep them in South Vietnam. So we say “except for transit purposes,” so it reflected the freedom of the sea already. So I think that our proposal is reasonable and logical. And such a solution in the conditions of peace is reasonable and logical. In my mind the questions of the understandings have nothing complicated or confused, but you drag it, the discussions.

Dr. Kissinger: I do not drag it at all. We disagree. Just because we disagree does not mean I drag it.

Le Duc Tho: But I think that the solution of the question is already reasonable and logical, because now peace is restored and the aircraft carriers should leave the coast of Vietnam. So previously these aircraft carriers attack both North and South Vietnam, now they move a little further from the coast of Vietnam. And if you want to wage war then you can bring them in 15 minutes. But this fact will show to us whether you want war or you want peace. Because if you want war, then even [from] the aircraft carriers stationed so far from the coast of Vietnam you can send the planes in. But our people will not understand that after the restoration of peace U.S. aircraft carriers are still near the coast of Vietnam, not only in the North but also in the South.

Dr. Kissinger: Well, we will keep them out of eyesight. [Laughter] Nobody will see an aircraft carrier.

Le Duc Tho: We can’t hide from them.

Dr. Kissinger: You can’t . . .?

Le Duc Tho: We can’t hide them from our people . . .

Dr. Kissinger: Well, for that matter how do you know where the aircraft carriers are?

Le Duc Tho: But the point is to bring about a reasonable and logical solution. But frankly speaking, if now you stationed your aircraft carriers at 150 miles from the coast of Vietnam or 200 miles from the coast of Vietnam, we can’t know. But it shows your good will and your real desire for peace. Because our people will see no point for you to keep your aircraft carriers in the area of the coast of Vietnam and to make pressure on us. So I have told you all my arguments.

Dr. Kissinger: This is a question we have to study tonight.

So to sum up, on paragraph 8(c) I think we will find and give you a formula tomorrow which substantially meets your concerns. On civilian technicians, could I have the text? Could you write out the text you read to me?

Interpreter: I have handed it to you.

Dr. Kissinger: On technicians the Special Advisor read me a text. I have to get another estimate on accelerated training schedules, and [Page 1238] we will find a solution. And on aircraft carriers, that is a very complex problem. Because it affects many other countries also.

Mr. Phuong: Please check up whether we have handed it to you.

Dr. Kissinger: The Special Advisor read me something. [Tho hands over another copy of Tab E.] This is it. I just wanted to have the text of what the Special Advisor read in our stenographic record. The one which says 18 months. [Laughter]

Dr. Kissinger: [Reading] It doesn’t show February. We are only 150 days apart. No, we will make a realistic proposal tomorrow.

Le Duc Tho: So all this afternoon, the signing, it is not yet discussed: the understandings, no understanding is completed.

Dr. Kissinger: Well, we have had our discussion on the understanding and it will be settled very quickly tomorrow. I think with the exception of the aircraft carrier, they can all find a rapid solution.

Le Duc Tho: Please take into account our views on the aircraft carriers.

Dr. Kissinger: Yes, very much.

Le Duc Tho: Because it is a question here of reason and sentiments too. What shall we discuss now, Mr. Advisor?

Dr. Kissinger: We can discuss a possible schedule. I must leave on Saturday evening. That is the 13th. Now, first, I wanted to ask the Special Advisor how he thinks the initialing should be conducted.

Le Duc Tho: You have decided or you intend to leave Paris on January 13. But it will depend on the way of discussing matters. I am afraid that if you discuss as you have done this afternoon, I am afraid that you will not be able to leave on the 13th. As to me, I have much experience with regard to the schedule you propose. In a word, in order to put in practice your schedule, we should present a realistic solution to the problem. To keep to the schedule.

Dr. Kissinger: I agree.

Le Duc Tho: But I wonder whether the schedule you propose this time will be kept. But if it can be kept I agree with you.

Dr. Kissinger: Well, we cannot be sure about the schedule of our discussions here in Paris because this depends on both parties. But after we leave here we will keep the schedule.

Le Duc Tho: As to the initialing, it is up to you. If you want to initial the agreement in Paris, it is all right. If you want to initial it in Hanoi, as you proposed previously, it is all right. Any way is acceptable to us.

Dr. Kissinger: All right. That affects the schedule. If we do it in Paris it can be effected more quickly than if it is initialed in Hanoi.

Le Duc Tho: It is up to you to choose.

[Page 1239]

Dr. Kissinger: Well, we will let you know tomorrow.

Le Duc Tho: Yes.

Dr. Kissinger: In any event, 24 hours after we leave here we will send General Haig to Hanoi.

Ambassador Sullivan: To Saigon.

Dr. Kissinger: To Saigon. We have to get Haig into Hanoi more quickly than you get there! We have to get our side of the story across! And that will probably take three days. So if I leave here on the 13th, he would leave the evening of the 14th. We would stop the bombing within 3 hours after that, after I arrive in Washington. Say, by noon at the latest on Monday, Washington time. So we could initial the agreement in Paris about the 22nd. Realistically the 22nd, maybe earlier. In Hanoi, the 25th or 26th. The signing should be about three days after the initialing. If we initial it in Paris and if you think it worthwhile, we would still be prepared to come to Hanoi afterwards to discuss post-war relations. After we sign it.

Le Duc Tho: But after the initialing, then when do you intend to go to Hanoi?

Dr. Kissinger: Well, if the initialing here is on the 22nd and the signing is on the 25th or 26th, I would be prepared to come to Hanoi the following week. [Lord confers with Kissinger] Mr. Lord is a Vietnamese religious expert. He doesn’t want to interfere with your Tet celebration. [Tho laughs] We are assuming you are celebrating it in peaceful ways this year.

Le Duc Tho: It depends on the settlement we have.

Dr. Kissinger: So those are the two possibilities. We will give you our suggestion tomorrow. But either one of these schedules we will firmly keep. If we conclude by Saturday night, and I think we can.

Le Duc Tho: Are you finished?

Dr. Kissinger: Yes, I am finished.

Le Duc Tho: Now regarding your intention to leave Paris on Saturday evening, I think that if we make efforts—we will make effort, but particularly you should make effort—then you can keep that date.

Dr. Kissinger: I have used that in many dinner conversations. [Tho laughs] We will both make a big effort. If we are determined to settle it by Saturday night we will do it. We have no intention of delaying. We will settle the understandings in an hour tomorrow morning.

Le Duc Tho: Now regarding the visit of General Haig to Saigon or the time of your leaving Paris, it is up to you. Because if we finish our work on Saturday, then when you will leave Paris or when General Haig will leave for Saigon, it is up to you. Because it is your program.

If you leave Paris on Saturday evening the 13th, then by noon the 15th Washington time the bombing will be stopped.

[Page 1240]

Dr. Kissinger: That is correct, and probably in fact a little earlier.

Le Duc Tho: And the mining too?

Dr. Kissinger: Yes. But not reconnaissance. I know you won’t agree to it. I am just telling you. But we are talking only about a week then.

Le Duc Tho: But it would be better if you reduce the time for the stopping of bombing to 24 hours—it would be better.

Dr. Kissinger: We will reduce the intensity anyway.

Le Duc Tho: If you reduce it by 24 hours and it will be 12 hours after your departure, it will be better.

Dr. Kissinger: He is a tremendous buffalo trader. He has already gotten 12 hours; now he is doubling it. Have I got the hours wrong?

Le Duc Tho: Yes. If you now leave Paris in the evening of the 13th then it will be noon in Washington.

Dr. Kissinger: No, it is from my arrival in Washington.

Le Duc Tho: Then you will stop the bombing at noon the 15th, then it will make 48 hours.

Dr. Kissinger: I said 48 hours from my arrival. The problem is this. We want to announce the departure of Haig before we announce the end of the bombing. But we will reduce it in that period; from the time I leave here we will immediately reduce it. We will reduce the intensity.

Le Duc Tho: So you mean 36 hours after your arrival in Washington? But regarding the time for the cessation of the bombing, you said on many occasions that 48 hours after we reached basic agreement in Paris then the bombing would be stopped. Now you say 48 hours after your arrival in Washington.

Dr. Kissinger: But what is the difference—in 36 hours.

Le Duc Tho: Because you said that this bombing will be stopped 48 hours after we reached agreement in Paris.

Dr. Kissinger: What’s your definition? When I leave Paris we have reached basic agreement?

Le Duc Tho: Yes, I understand that.

Dr. Kissinger: We have two problems. One, it is important—in order to avoid some of the events of last October—that we do not announce this before Haig is on the way.

Negroponte: [To Dr. Kissinger] The problem is they are worried you may not go back directly to Washington.

Dr. Kissinger: Oh, I see. You are afraid I will stay an extra day in Paris. No, the day we conclude here I will leave. I will leave within several hours after we conclude then. I will not stay in Paris one hour longer than I have to. I will return immediately. I will not delay here.

Le Duc Tho: So you return to Washington.

[Page 1241]

Dr. Kissinger: The day we finish I return to Washington immediately.

Le Duc Tho: So 36 hours after your arrival in Washington the bombing will be stopped.

Dr. Kissinger: Yes, or maybe even sooner. The question is, quite honestly, we want to announce the departure of Haig first before we announce the ending of the bombing, so that those two events don’t create a problem.

Le Duc Tho: You say that after we reach agreement here in Paris, then the bombing will be reduced.

Dr. Kissinger: Yes.

Le Duc Tho: And then when you arrive in Washington, in 36 hours the bombing will be stopped.

Ambassador Sullivan: And the mining.

Le Duc Tho: And the mining, of course. Thirty-six hours after your arrival in Washington.

Dr. Kissinger: That is right. I will give you the exact hour when I leave. At our last session I will give you the exact hour when the bombing will stop.

Le Duc Tho: And the shorter the better, the period. I propose 24 hours. As to the initialing, whether it is to be in Paris or in Hanoi, I will consult my government. But please let us know your proposal.

Dr. Kissinger: Tomorrow.

Le Duc Tho: Tomorrow, and then three days after the initialing there will be the official signing of the agreement.

Dr. Kissinger: Yes.

Le Duc Tho: You told me about avoiding big operations after we have reached agreement. I can tell you the following. From PRG sources we know that the Saigon Administration is preparing for big military operations, mobilizing ground forces, air forces and naval forces to attack many areas of the PRG. So before the ceasefire becomes effective, if a situation happens as the Saigon Administration is preparing, then there is no limitation until the ceasefire becomes effective. But to show our good will after the cessation of bombing against North Vietnam, both sides should not launch battalion-size operations and above.

Dr. Kissinger: After when?

Le Duc Tho: After the cessation of the bombing against North Vietnam. Until the ceasefire becomes effective, then both sides shall not launch military operations with battalion strength or above. But after the cessation of bombing against North Vietnam until the ceasefire, if the Saigon Administration launches big operations against the PRG, then the PRG will fight back. We ask this to show our good will. We do not want big military operations.

[Page 1242]

I propose other things too. I just raise it to you. I raise the question that after we settle the problem of Vietnam, after we sign the agreement and after the ceasefire comes into effect, then we should fix the date for the two South Vietnamese parties to meet. Therefore, I would think that after the agreement is initialed, then the two South Vietnamese parties will meet in Paris to discuss in a friendly way about the place of the meeting, the way to discuss things.

Dr. Kissinger: Before the signing?

Le Duc Tho: After the initialing.

Dr. Kissinger: Don’t you think it is better . . .

Le Duc Tho: After the initialing.

Dr. Kissinger: Don’t you think it is better not to excite them too much until after the signing is finished? I hate to think what Mr. Duc and Madame Binh are going to do to each other in their first meeting.

Le Duc Tho: No, I am thinking about the two South Vietnamese delegations here in Paris.

Dr. Kissinger: Oh, in Paris.

Le Duc Tho: Will meet to discuss the place of their meeting, the timing, the procedure. I raise the problem. So that they may exchange views on the place of their future meetings, the timing.

Dr. Kissinger: If you envision this . . .

Le Duc Tho: And then after the ceasefire they will meet.

Dr. Kissinger: . . . then the Minister can encourage his friends to be on somewhat more restrained behavior tomorrow so that they get used to talking to each other in a more civil fashion. Just to get into practice. In principle we have no problem with this. But it depends of course on the two South Vietnamese parties.

Le Duc Tho: And we think that after the conclusion of the agreement in Paris, the signing, then these meetings should be in South Vietnam. Because after the Paris Conference is closed, I suggest to you.

Dr. Kissinger: It is mostly to be decided between the two South Vietnamese parties.

Le Duc Tho: I think we will exchange views with you on that question. And the three Vietnamese parties. How do you envisage the Paris Conference after we sign the agreement? Because the Paris Conference has concluded each task.

Dr. Kissinger: I think we can close it down too. We might keep it for sixty days while the Four-Party Joint Commission . . .

Le Duc Tho: The Four-Party Joint Commission may come here to exchange their views on the formation. Because this Commission should be formed before the ceasefire, so that when the ceasefire comes into effect then the Joint Commission will operate immediately.

[Page 1243]

Then there is the question of the international guarantee conference. Because we have agreed that the international guarantee conference will be convened one month after the signing of the agreement. Then the parties should invite the participants, discuss the invitation.

Dr. Kissinger: Yes, we two should discuss the invitations.

Le Duc Tho: We should discuss the question of this international conference and the question of invitations.

Dr. Kissinger: That is correct.

Le Duc Tho: One week after the signing of the agreement.

Dr. Kissinger: All right. Where should we do that? You and I?

Le Duc Tho: We are exchanging views on that.

Dr. Kissinger: Yes.

Le Duc Tho: And afterward, after the ceasefire, after restoration of peace in Vietnam, how you and I should continue our contact?

Dr. Kissinger: First, Mr. Special Advisor, if we should go to Hanoi after the signing, then we could discuss the invitations in Hanoi—if we initial here and if I come to Hanoi say a week after the signing. And you and I can stay in contact initially through the channels we have used here and decide to meet whenever we think it is important. And I think we should meet to make certain that the agreement is carried out properly, from time to time. And to discuss normalization of our relations.

Secondly, as I have told you, under conditions of peace, we are prepared to move towards establishing diplomatic relations and initially some points of contact between you and us.

Le Duc Tho: We will discuss these questions.

Dr. Kissinger: And we are open to other suggestions, but I think in principle we should remain in close contact.

Le Duc Tho: Of course. Because after the restoration of peace then we should think about how to keep close contact with each other, how liaison will be made.

Dr. Kissinger: Exactly.

Le Duc Tho: And where it will be made. Because these are the few questions I would like to raise to you for your thinking.

Dr. Kissinger: The Special Advisor can reciprocate our visit to Hanoi by coming to Washington. [Tho smiles] He can bring both of his saboteurs with him. [Laughter] But only if the Minister stays off television. [Xuan Thuy laughs]

Le Duc Tho: If now I go to Washington after the restoration of peace, I would not be accompanied by saboteurs.

Dr. Kissinger: You will receive a very warm welcome.

[Page 1244]

Le Duc Tho: So after you raised the schedule, I raise a number of questions for your thinking.

Dr. Kissinger: So then tomorrow we will complete the understandings rapidly. [Tho nods yes.] And then we will discuss the issues of principle in the protocols. Perhaps it would be good if Ambassador Sullivan indicated what he thinks the issues are so we are sure the Vice Minister has the same understanding of the problem. Not the substance, just to explain what the topics are.

Minister Thach: We have agreed upon it.

Dr. Kissinger: Oh, you have agreed upon it.

Ambassador Sullivan: Yes, four issues.

Dr. Kissinger: Oh, then we don’t have to review it.

Minister Thach: No need.

Dr. Kissinger: OK, so then we will discuss those four issues tomorrow. When shall we meet tomorrow, Mr. Special Advisor?

Le Duc Tho: In the morning.

Dr. Kissinger: All right. Ten o’clock.

Le Duc Tho: Ten o’clock.

Dr. Kissinger: At our place? At the golf course?

Le Duc Tho: In your place.

Dr. Kissinger: All right. Now in order to speed things, maybe we can have the experts there also, and while the Special Advisor and I discuss understandings the experts could continue discussing protocols, and then when we are ready to turn to the protocols the experts could join us. How would that be? Or alternatively the experts can meet here.

Le Duc Tho: At the same place then?

Dr. Kissinger: There are two possibilities. One is everybody meets at the golf course. The other possibility is that the experts meet here at ten o’clock and join us at one o’clock. Because by one we will certainly be finished with the understandings. [Tho nods]

Dr. Kissinger: It is easier to meet together. So if you are willing to come to our place.

Le Duc Tho: Yes, we agree.

Dr. Kissinger: And we have the experts in a separate room on the protocols while we discuss understandings, and then whenever we are ready for them they will join us.

Le Duc Tho: I agree.

Dr. Kissinger: Good, and we will make tomorrow very rapid progress.

Le Duc Tho: If you will make an effort, I will make an effort. [Laughter]

[Page 1245]

Dr. Kissinger: I have my necessities and you have your necessities. [Laughter] Yes, we will both make an effort.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 866, For the President’s Files (Winston Lord)—China Trip/Vietnam Negotiations, Camp David Memcons, January 8–13, 1973 [January 23, 1973]. Top Secret; Sensitive; Exclusively Eyes Only. The meeting took place at 108 Avenue du Général Leclerc in Gif-sur-Yvette. All brackets are in the original. The tabs are attached but not printed.

    In his message to President Nixon summarizing the day’s meeting, Kissinger wrote: “Today’s four-hour session continued the momentum of yesterday. I think we can now say with some assurance that the agreement, understandings and protocols should all be completed by Saturday [January 13] or Sunday [January 14], except perhaps for some technical conforming of the protocol texts.” However, he cautioned: “It is always possible, of course, that Hanoi will reverse course, but the atmosphere and approach is totally different from December. Whatever the press and other observers may say about our military actions, they certainly seem to have contributed to this result.”

    Expressing his ongoing concern about the possibility of Saigon or Hanoi or both somehow short-circuiting the agreement, Kissinger added: “The need for the strictest security on the status of the talks, not to mention possible scenarios, remains as imperative as ever. Finally, of course, the problem in Saigon remains formidable. This fact plus the constant caveat about Hanoi’s course of action mean that even private celebrations will be premature for many days to come.” ( Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, vol. IX, Vietnam, October 1972–January 1973, Document 258)