47. Memorandum of Conversation1

PARTICIPANTS

  • Le Duc Tho, Special Adviser 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
  • 2 Notetakers
  • Dr. Henry A. Kissinger, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
  • Ambassador William Sullivan, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State
  • Winston Lord, NSC Staff
  • David A. Engel, NSC Staff, Interpreter
  • Peter W. Rodman, NSC Staff
  • Miss Irene G. Derus, Notetaker
[Page 1308]

Dr. Kissinger: We gave you the view on the golf course.

Le Duc Tho: An aura.

Dr. Kissinger: I thought the Minister was going to wear that elegant tie today.

Xuan Thuy: I will reserve the tie for a solemn moment.

Dr. Kissinger: But it has to be the initialing because I may not be here for the signing.

Xuan Thuy: Yes, I will wear it at the initialing.

Dr. Kissinger: Ambassador Sullivan said to me last night that we are running into a terrible dilemma for negotiators. Even with our cantankerous nature we are running out of issues. And we may be doomed to come to an agreement today.

Le Duc Tho: I think that there are very few questions left for Ambassador Sullivan.

Dr. Kissinger: We have the following problems.

I promised the Special Adviser that I would make a proposal to him today on how to handle the question on economic reconstruction. This is not a question of substance, because we have agreed in substance. And it is a question of reconciling the necessities of our Congress with the suspicious nature of the Vietnamese. [Laughter] We will make a specific proposal to you in a minute.

On the Agreement, we have the Preamble of the two-party document and the conclusion and Article 23. On the Preamble, just to save time, I accept “with the concurrence of” and I withdraw “in concert with”. It is a sign of good will. Normally I would sell it one word at a time. [Laughter] That is what the Special Adviser would do.

Le Duc Tho: Article 23. But you are still going on speaking.

Dr. Kissinger: On Article 23 we have given you the texts yesterday and we think they are adequate. We have no additional suggestions. Then we have a few minor language problems that came up yesterday. On Vietnamese civilian prisoners, I have the impression that Ambassa[Page 1309]dor Sullivan and Minister Thach came to an understanding yesterday, but we should discuss it just to make sure.

Mr. Thach: We are nearer to each other.

Dr. Kissinger: Well, we will just discuss it this morning. I am just going through the list of topics.

On how to fix the ceasefire, we have a suggestion of one sentence. And then, as I understand it, the Special Adviser wishes to read a statement to me fixing the schedule, which I shall initial in blood. [Laughter] And that I believe covers our work program for today. Am I correct, Mr. Special Adviser?

Le Duc Tho: Regarding the healing of the war wounds, we will discuss it.

Dr. Kissinger: Now. I am prepared.

Le Duc Tho: Now regarding the Agreement there are only two points. First, on the word “with concurrence of”—you have agreed to it.

Dr. Kissinger: I have agreed.

Le Duc Tho: As to Article 23, you have amended it for the two-party signing and four-party signing. I agree with you.

Dr. Kissinger: So that is settled.

Le Duc Tho: There is only one point I would like to add.

Dr. Kissinger: It has to be signed by the President of the United States.

Le Duc Tho: You have proposed “the representatives of”. I would like to say “the plenipotentiary representatives of”, so that they have full authority.

Dr. Kissinger: Let me check with our lawyer. It is something normal in all signing of agreements. It is a legal question.

Mr. Thach: Nothing in it. In Geneva in 1962 they used this word.

Dr. Kissinger: It sounds all right. But may I just check it with our lawyer during the break?

Le Duc Tho: [Laughs] Please check it. So regarding the Agreement, it is finished now.

Dr. Kissinger: Let me ask one thing about the Agreement. Why do we need a two-party document if we have a four-party document?

Le Duc Tho: The two-party signing is between us and it reflects more fully our responsibilities. And it is a good thing, because there are points which can be said in the two-party signing but which cannot be said in the four-party signing, so it reflects our necessity.

Dr. Kissinger: Does anyone know what the Special Adviser is talking about? [Laughter]

Le Duc Tho: But you understood it.

[Page 1310]

Dr. Kissinger: So you consider it essential. All right. So I agree and we can consider the Agreement finished.

Le Duc Tho: Now regarding the signing ceremony I would like to speak a few words, because it is necessary with some formality as normal. But in the morning will be the two-party signing ceremony and in the afternoon the four-party signing ceremony. It is something necessary.

Dr. Kissinger: We could also reverse it and have the four-party in the morning and the two-party in the afternoon.

Le Duc Tho: All right. And we should make it solemn by having cameramen, photographers and journalists.

Dr. Kissinger: All right, we agree.

Le Duc Tho: And Minister Xuan Thuy will attend the ceremony.

Dr. Kissinger: Attend? I am told he hasn’t decided yet whether to be at the ceremony or to be a commentator. [Laughter] He will be very noticeable.

Xuan Thuy: And you should also invite the former American ambassadors to that ceremony.

Dr. Kissinger: I mentioned to the Special Adviser that we are thinking of doing this, but, if I may be frank, the relationship between our administration and Ambassador Harriman has not yet reached the level of national reconciliation and concord. But I will tell the Special Adviser that I will do my utmost to promote this attendance within the two-week period. [Laughter]

Xuan Thuy: And I think that if you should invite Ambassador Harriman to that ceremony, Ambassador Harriman would think the word “don doc” is most necessary.

Dr. Kissinger: I really think that the Minister wants to meet Mrs. Harriman after all I said to him about her. [Laughter]

Xuan Thuy: It would be a good thing if Ambassador Harriman could bring his wife. I only knew the former Madame Harriman.

Le Duc Tho: But I reveal to you a secrecy: Minister Xuan Thuy has composed a four-verse poetry in honor of Ambassador Harriman but he kept it secret at the moment of Mr. Harriman’s marriage. [Laughter]

Dr. Kissinger: Can it be read in mixed company? [Laughter]

Xuan Thuy: No, I only reveal the poem when I meet him. I would like also to meet Ambassador Cabot Lodge, Ambassador Bruce and Ambassador Porter to send them my greetings.

Dr. Kissinger: I have not had a chance to discuss this with the President, but we agree that it should be a solemn occasion. Now normally there are no speeches at a signing ceremony. I don’t know whether the Minister will attend under those conditions. [Laughter]

[Page 1311]

Xuan Thuy: I am prepared but I can assure you I make no speech.

Dr. Kissinger: Do we agree no speeches?

Xuan Thuy: No one will make speeches on that day. But say only a few words to greet the success of the negotiations. But outside.

Dr. Kissinger: Oh, outside. But could you avoid the words “victory” and “war of aggression?” [Laughter]

I think we should begin with an attitude of conciliation. It will be a very solemn day in America, and I am sure in Vietnam even more, and I think we should begin with an attitude of generosity and warmth toward each other.

Le Duc Tho: I think you are right. At the four-party signing ceremony we should reflect the sense of solemnity and the sense of reconciliation.

Dr. Kissinger: In contrast to the two-party signing? [Laughter]

Le Duc Tho: I think that at the two-party signing ceremony then the reconciliation I must say is easy to achieve. And the success we have achieved here reflects this reconciliation.

Dr. Kissinger: Yes, I think between our two countries it will be much easier, and between the Special Adviser and me it has already been achieved. [Tho nods yes.] Our view is that the very formal ceremony is the four-party ceremony; that we can be somewhat more informal at the two-party ceremony.

Le Duc Tho: I think that it should be the same, with cameramen, journalists, photographers at the two signing ceremonies. Some solemnity in it.

Dr. Kissinger: Only you don’t know our press. And I find the combination of the word “solemnity” with the presence of our press not necessarily consistent. [Laughs] All right, we can have the protocol people discuss the arrangements. [Tho nods yes.]

Now as to the meeting on the 23rd, no preparations should be made until we have made the announcement. At Avenue Kleber. And I don’t think the French should be told until Friday, until the 19th.

Le Duc Tho: When we inform the French, your side and our side will do it at the same moment. We will agree on that.

Dr. Kissinger: All right. How can we do it at the same moment?

Le Duc Tho: Or you can do it before us.

Dr. Kissinger: All right.

Le Duc Tho: On the same day I mean.

Dr. Kissinger: On the same day we do it. On the same day. Yes, we will have our Chargé see Schumann and you whoever you see. We will tell him nothing, but he will, I am sure, contribute a great deal! We will not tell him that we plan to initial the Agreement on that day; [Page 1312] we will just tell him we want to meet there. We should announce the initialing afterwards. We will definitely initial it on that day. I have told you and there will be no delay. And there will be no change.

Now then I propose that starting on the 23rd our protocol officials get together to arrange the signing ceremony. Or maybe even the 24th would be better.

Le Duc Tho: On what day should we inform the French?

Dr. Kissinger: On the 19th. On the 19th we inform the French that we shall use Kleber on the 23rd.

Le Duc Tho: Between you and I.

Dr. Kissinger: For our meeting, and then on the 24th we should inform them that we would like to use, I suppose, Kleber on the 27th for signing.

Le Duc Tho: So we will initial on the 23rd.

Dr. Kissinger: Without fail.

Le Duc Tho: The protocol people will get together to discuss the initialing ceremony.

Dr. Kissinger: All right. Sullivan will handle it for us. Sullivan and Thach. But we keep it secret.

Le Duc Tho: Yes, both Mr. Sullivan and Mr. Thach will be there.

Dr. Kissinger: And we have only official photographers, just like the ones we have arranged. You bring two; we bring two—one camera and one film. And we then decide on the release.

Le Duc Tho: But on your side how many people will attend?

Dr. Kissinger: On Tuesday?

Le Duc Tho: On the 23rd.

Dr. Kissinger: This group, plus Negroponte and Aldrich.

Le Duc Tho: And on our side those people, but we will discuss in details a little. So we leave this question to Ambassador Sullivan and Minister Thach.

Mr. Thach: Because we have to prepare the document to be initialed.

Mr. Sullivan: It may take us four months to agree on the shape of the table. [Laughter]

Dr. Kissinger: Do we have to number the pages for initialing too? [Laughter]

Le Duc Tho: Now, shall we now discuss the understandings? A few words?

Dr. Kissinger: All right, we are agreed now on the Agreement with the only exception being that I will discuss the word “plenipotentiary.”

We have one more translating problem about the Agreement, in your translation of Article 13. It is the only unsettled question. In [Page 1313] English it says “Among the questions to be discussed by the two South Vietnamese parties are steps to reduce their military effectives and to demobilize the troops being reduced.” You have “Among the questions to be discussed is the question of steps,” and that doesn’t make any sense. I mean the question to be discussed is the question. So we just say “are steps.”

Le Duc Tho: I agree.

Dr. Kissinger: All right. Now the Agreement is finally completed.

In the Special Adviser’s favorite section, Chapter VI on International Control, this issue arises the same way, and wherever Article 13 is mentioned we phrase it the same way. It is just to conform it. All right?

Le Duc Tho: I agree.

Dr. Kissinger: Fine. Now, Mr. Special Adviser, about the understandings.

Le Duc Tho: We have finished the Agreement now.

Dr. Kissinger: Except for the word “plenipotentiary” which I think is all right but I want to get legal advice.

Le Duc Tho: Regarding 8(c).

Dr. Kissinger: In the text? [Laughter]

Le Duc Tho: In the understandings.

Dr. Kissinger: You want to reduce it to 60 days?

Le Duc Tho: It is only the phrase you use in your draft “in the framework of national reconciliation and national concord.” We would propose to write “in keeping with the spirit of national reconciliation and concord.” The reason is that it has been used in the Agreement. Secondly, your formulation is not clear and difficult to understand. “In keeping with the spirit of national reconciliation and concord,” “in the spirit of national reconciliation.” Article 8(c).

Dr. Kissinger: All right, we will say “in the spirit of national reconciliation and concord.” That makes it the same as the Agreement.

Le Duc Tho: Now regarding the American civilian personnel.

Dr. Kissinger: Wait a minute. He moves so fast. I just—are we then assuming—is Article 8(c) now finished? [Laughter]

Le Duc Tho: Finished.

Dr. Kissinger: Should we have a minute’s silence to commemorate this event? It is a very solemn occasion.

Le Duc Tho: But after the Agreement is signed you and I will keep recalling Article 8(c)!

Dr. Kissinger: I can never forget. Let me just sum up. On this understanding, yesterday—I appreciate that the DRV side insisted on [Page 1314] including my full title, for which my father thanks you. [Laughter] And that we say “in the spirit of reconciliation.” We will get it typed and hand you a copy. [As changed and retyped, Tab A.]

Now I can no longer put off the evil day. Article 5.

Le Duc Tho: Now regarding the understanding on Article 5, I keep what we have been agreed to and drop “all other foreign countries.”

Dr. Kissinger: So we say “all its civilian personnel.” We will get that retyped just to make sure it is exactly right. [As agreed and retyped, Tab B.]

Le Duc Tho: Now the written understanding on the aircraft carriers. It is the word “The U.S. intends,” the word “intends.”

Dr. Kissinger: I have to explain this. We read this to you and you accepted it, and the reason for it is that it preserves that our record shows our not having undertaken a formal obligation. The reason we do this is our legal position in relation to other countries. It does not affect our obligation to you.

Le Duc Tho: I think that this understanding is referring to North Vietnam, but after the end of the war, after the cessation of the bombing, then you will pull out all these aircraft carriers from the shores of North Vietnam. Because in the Vietnamese language the word “intend” means it does not yet become an action; it only in the mind.

Dr. Kissinger: We have two separate problems. In English it is perfectly clear that we will do it. We can move the phrase—I understand your complex mind on this—we could say “The U.S. side states that it intends to station its aircraft carriers at least 300 nautical miles from the coast of North Vietnam after the withdrawal of its forces from Vietnam.” So the intention begins today.

Le Duc Tho: [laughs] Well, in any case even if you put after 60 days but if you use the word “intend,” it is only an intention; it is not yet a decision, because after 60 days you have this intention.

Dr. Kissinger: No, we have the intention now to do it after 60 days.

Le Duc Tho: But I propose to write simply “will station.”

Dr. Kissinger: Have you discussed with the Chinese that this puts them in the territorial waters of Hainan Island? [Laughter]

Mr. Thach: Because Hainan is still within 300 miles.

Dr. Kissinger: But the other side of it. [To Sullivan:] They have already figured it out.

Le Duc Tho: So, shall we propose that it “decides to station its aircraft carriers at least 300 nautical miles from the coast of North Vietnam after 60 days?”

Dr. Kissinger: How about “plans?” For us it is an important legal problem of national policy. It has nothing to do with what we will do [Page 1315] with respect to Vietnam. We have this important international conference on the Law of the Seas, and we have important fishing interests in Latin America. And we have not recognized the right of undertaking a legal obligation with respect to anything outside territorial waters, and—I am being very frank with you—we do not want to prejudice our position at this international conference with respect to this particular statement. This is our concern. [They confer.]

Le Duc Tho: So can I propose this now? We do not use the word “intend” nor the word “decide,” but we propose that now “The U.S. side states after the withdrawal of its armed forces from South Vietnam, to station its aircraft . . .”

Dr. Kissinger: That doesn’t work in English. Look to us it’s entirely a legal problem. It’s not a substantive problem. Can we reserve it until after the break? I want to discuss with Mr. Aldrich and I want to discuss what the implication is. And may I suggest to the Special Adviser what he said to me about the Vietnamese word “se” [on December 12] “se” you don’t know when the future begins. [Laughter] I just want him to know that I am paying attention.

Le Duc Tho: So you have very good memory.

Dr. Kissinger: We will settle it right after the break.

Le Duc Tho: Now I would like to remind you of the Lao question. I will carry out what I have told you. But I would like to say that you should also tell your ally to respect the Agreement, because if, after the ceasefire, your ally will start attacks against our ally then the war will be resumed.

Dr. Kissinger: I do not have the impression that excessive bellicosity is a disease of the Lao, but I don’t know what your experience has been. I will tell the Special Adviser, however, two things. One, after our private conversation the other day we have used our influence with our friends in Laos in a constructive direction in these talks. And secondly, we will use our influence with our friends in Laos to observe the ceasefire strictly after an agreement is reached.

Le Duc Tho: It is what I expect.

Dr. Kissinger: You can count on it.

Le Duc Tho: I agree then. So now we have finished with the understandings except the word “intend.”

Dr. Kissinger: Yes.

Le Duc Tho: Now shall we come to the protocols?

Dr. Kissinger: Which protocol?

Le Duc Tho: The determination of the zone of control. As to the visit to the detention camp, I think we should leave it to Ambassador Sullivan and Mr. Thach.

[Page 1316]

Dr. Kissinger: All right. They are already approaching a formulation that no one can possibly understand. They are invoking Article 26(b) of the Treaty of Westphalia. I agree. I think they are close to an understanding on it.

Mr. Thach: But Ambassador Sullivan should go a little further.

Dr. Kissinger: He shall make a little effort. And if he makes a little effort and you make a little effort I think you can solve the problem. [Laughter]

Le Duc Tho: Now Ambassador Sullivan go a little further and Mr. Thach will go nearer to it, then a settlement.

Dr. Kissinger: Our impression is, Mr. Special Adviser, that your assistant on this end is very difficult. [Thach and Tho laugh.] No, I think they are approaching an agreement and if there should be any last-minute problem the Special Adviser and I can exchange messages.

Le Duc Tho: I agree.

Dr. Kissinger: On Article 7 of the protocol on the ceasefire and Joint Military Commission, we agree with your idea that the local commanders should meet to determine the implementation of Article 3. The Two-Party Military Commission and the local commanders. They left something out in the draft we gave you. We think that the implementation of Article 3(b) of the Agreement should be determined by the Two-Party Joint Military Commission and the local commanders. So we agree with you on that. But we think there should be one sentence added, that we think is important, which is: “Among the criteria to be used in determining such areas of control shall be information provided by local commanders with respect to the strength, location, and deployment of the armed forces under their control.” [Mr. Kissinger repeated the above.] “Among the criteria to be used in determining such areas of control shall be information provided by local commanders with respect to the strength, location and deployment of the armed forces under their command.”

Le Duc Tho: I think that from military point of view regarding the determination of zone of control we should leave to the discussion of the local commanders, so that they will discuss the modalities of stationing to avoid clashes or contact between their units. But from a military point of view I think it would be difficult for us to decide here that they should exchange information on strength, location, and deployment of forces under their control. I think that the Geneva Agreements of 1962 on Laos provide for the same measures, with a view to avoid clashes between opposing forces.

Dr. Kissinger: As I told the Special Adviser yesterday, I have the nightmare that 10 years from now this Agreement will be cited with the same intensity as the 1962 Agreement and only he and I will know [Page 1317] how it was arrived at. [They laugh.] Mr. Sullivan said when you have conquered southern China you will fix the lines according to these principles. [They laugh. Kissinger says to Sullivan: They think it’s quite feasible!] Now I think we should just give some criteria. What the precise information is—that should be exchanged. Mr. Sullivan is under the illusion that your colleagues might agree to something you don’t approve. [Laughter] I have a clearer idea of the influence of a member of the Politburo.

Le Duc Tho: Shall we also now agree that the parties will rely on Article 3 only and then the parties will base themselves on the Article for further details?

Dr. Kissinger: Except the difficulty is they will have absolutely no criteria which to apply. Now I can agree to a very general formulation. It doesn’t have to be so specific about units and insignia and precise numbers, but I think we should have one sentence that says “shall be [determined by]2 information with respect to the location and deployment of the armed forces under their command.” So we do not ask for all the detailed information.

Le Duc Tho: But if they have to reveal their location and their position then it is detailed already.

Dr. Kissinger: Well how are they going to determine control? Or are we going to have so-called areas of control with so-called forces?

Le Duc Tho: Now I think that they will determine the zones of control and then they will decide on modalities of troops stationing to avoid conflict.

Dr. Kissinger: But how are they going to do it?

Le Duc Tho: They will discuss the criteria and it is easy to define the zones of control.

Dr. Kissinger: How? Just for my understanding, when they meet in a spirit of concord, how will they determine who is where?

Le Duc Tho: Let them discuss the criteria of the zones of control.

Dr. Kissinger: Of course I have the impression, which may be mistaken, that they will not immediately agree on the criteria.

Le Duc Tho: They will have to discuss, and moreover when they are on the spot they are in the real situation, they will see more clearly than we here.

Dr. Kissinger: Let me reserve this until after the break. Now your point is—let me understand what your point is. Your point is to drop the whole Article 7 and to base ourselves on the Agreement.

[Page 1318]

Le Duc Tho: Drop our Article 7 and your Article 4 and then we will stick to the Agreement.

Dr. Kissinger: And we will say nothing about the Two-Party Commission and its terms of reference. That is your proposal.

Le Duc Tho: We will drop our Article 7 and your Article 4, then we will stick to the article of the Agreement and we will carry it out.

Ambassador Sullivan: 3(b).

Dr. Kissinger: Let us hold it until after the break. At any rate, your proposal is to drop in the protocol any discussion and base ourselves on Article 3(b) in the Agreement.

Le Duc Tho: Let me think it over.

Mr. Thach: We will base ourselves on the Agreement.

Dr. Kissinger: Let us both think it over during the break. Do we have any other problem except that?

Mr. Thach: Just sentence that that the Joint Commission should base itself on Article 3(b) to implement it. I propose one sentence “that the Two-Party Joint Military Commission shall base itself on Article 3(b) of the Agreement and to carry it out.”

Dr. Kissinger: Well, let me think about it. I don’t see any sense in saying it should carry out what is already in the Agreement. I have one other clause, which we agreed to yesterday but of which we are extremely proud because it turns a very simple idea into unbelievably complex language. It is the idea on which we agreed yesterday with respect to expenditures [for the ICCS]. And it is really a drafting problem. I just sum up once again what our understanding is.

Our understanding is that the first budget will be set by agreement among the parties. Subsequent budgets will be proposed by the International Commission to the parties. In case of disagreement between the Commission and the parties the old budget continues until the new budget is agreed upon. That is what we agreed to yesterday, but we agreed to the principle; that is what we have agreed to, and then let the two work it out.

Le Duc Tho: I agree.

Dr. Kissinger: But will the Special Adviser read that article? We are very proud of it. I want to assign it to my students. It is drawn from the German Constitution of 1871.

Le Duc Tho: But when the International Commission reduces its personnel then the budget should be reduced too.

Dr. Kissinger: Yes, but we will worry about that when it happens. There is one problem in Article 10 of the International Commission which I know the Special Adviser knows by heart. [Laughter] It deals with how the parties shall maintain liaison with the International Com[Page 1319]mission. And Mr. Loi, who wants to be DRV Ambassador to Saigon, insists that it has to be done through a liaison mission in Saigon. We don’t exclude this, but we want to leave open also the possibility of occasionally sending a liaison mission to Hanoi or elsewhere. We don’t say where, but just by any other means.

Mr. Sullivan: “Don doc” on Loi.

Le Duc Tho: We leave it to the experts.

Dr. Kissinger: Yes, but you keep your benevolent eye on it, because we couldn’t formulate an article that interests you so intensely without your full concurrence.

Le Duc Tho: I believe that Ambassador Sullivan and Minister Thach will resolve it.

Dr. Kissinger: We should have it all settled before we make the announcements of my return here, on Thursday. We have a procedural proposal, that between the four-party and two-party signing there should be a service in Notre Dame conducted by Mr. Schumann which all delegations attend. [Laughter] That is where the Minister can read his poetry about the marriage of Ambassador Harriman.

Xuan Thuy: And we should invite Cardinals and all the nuns of the Vatican.

Dr. Kissinger: Then Madame Binh can sing in the choir. [Laughter] Shall we take a little break?

[The group broke from 11:10 a.m. to 11:48 a.m.]

Dr. Kissinger: To finish our outstanding business, we agree to the word “plenipotentiary.” We agree to deleting Article 7 of the draft protocol on the ceasefire and Joint Commissions and to base the determination on the Agreement.

Le Duc Tho: And Article 4 in your protocol.

Dr. Kissinger: Well, Article 7 in yours and Article 4 in ours. At any rate we accept the proposal to stick to the Agreement and to give no guidelines.

With respect to the aircraft carriers, here is as far as we can go. With respect to the aircraft what we will say is “The U.S. side states its firm intention that after the withdrawal of its armed forces from South Vietnam it will station its aircraft carriers at least 300 nautical miles from the coast of North Vietnam after the withdrawal of its forces.” Let me read it again: “The U.S. states its firm intention to station its aircraft carriers at least 300 nautical miles from the coast of North Vietnam after the withdrawal of its armed forces from South Vietnam.”

Le Duc Tho: After 60 days then.

Dr. Kissinger: After 60 days it says in the understanding, but I have given you an oral assurance that we will in practice withdraw them earlier.

Le Duc Tho: I agree with you.

Dr. Kissinger: All right. [As agreed and retyped, Tab C.]

[Page 1320]

Le Duc Tho: So we have finished with the Agreement and with the understandings. So with the protocols regarding the determination of zones of control, we have agreed to each other, too.

Dr. Kissinger: Yes.

Le Duc Tho: Regarding the visits by the Red Cross for humanitarian reasons, we leave for Mr. Sullivan and Mr. Thach to solve.

Dr. Kissinger: Mr. Aldrich has discovered a protocol from the Peloponnesian War which I think we can cite. [Laughter]

Le Duc Tho: So now for the major questions regarding the protocols, you and I have solved them. As to the details we leave to Mr. Sullivan and Mr. Thach. We will “don doc” them. [Laughter]

Mr. Sullivan: The Special Adviser must promise that after we finish he must read the protocols. [Laughter]

Le Duc Tho: Will Dr. Kissinger also read them?

Dr. Kissinger: And we plan to finish those by Wednesday at the latest.

Le Duc Tho: It is possible.

Mr. Sullivan: It will take two days for the language experts after we finish them.

Dr. Kissinger: After they are finished the language experts have to conform the texts.

Le Duc Tho: We will leave it to Mr. Loi then.

Dr. Kissinger: Now what other problems do we have?

Le Duc Tho: Now let us go to the healing of the war wounds and we will recall everything in the schedule.

Dr. Kissinger: Good. Now let me give you our proposal on the healing of the war wounds. It is very complicated. But my experience with the Special Adviser is that complicated things he understands; it is the simple things he is having trouble with. [Laughter] Because he won’t rest until he has made them complicated.

Now let me summarize what our problems are with respect to this. At every meeting that we have had in 1971 and in 1972 I have emphasized to the Special Adviser that we could do nothing in the nature of reparations, and therefore we cannot bring the issue of the reconstruction of North Vietnam into the same framework as the Agreement on Ending the War. This is important to us for moral reasons, but it is important to you for practical reasons, because we must find a procedure which will obtain strong Congressional support over a long period of time for your reconstruction. Now, the things we have discussed in this room and in Gif—there is no question that the problem of economic [Page 1321] reconstruction will have its most satisfactory solution. We will implement it. But you must show some understanding for our domestic requirements and for our psychological problems.

Now I have thought last night what we can do. We cannot sign a protocol and we cannot even exchange messages before this Agreement is completed. But I have thought that what we can do is to send you a message on January 30, a note which expresses our intentions and principles. And to give you a draft of this note now, so that you will know what message you will receive. We would deliver it here through our regular channels on January 30th, and then on January 31st we could announce the trip to Hanoi and so forth. Now let me read the note to you so you can see if this is agreeable. You will see that it incorporates as much as possible from your protocol.

This, of course, presupposes that there will be no interviews from your side or other publicity that refers to this note before it is delivered. But you can be sure that it will be delivered to you unchanged on January 30th. Should I read it now?

Le Duc Tho: Please.

Dr. Kissinger: [reads Tab D] “The United States wishes to inform the Democratic Republic of Vietnam of the principles which will govern its participation in the postwar reconstruction of North Vietnam. As indicated in Article 21 of the Agreement on Ending the War and Restoring Peace in Vietnam signed in Paris on January”—it will be January 27th, 1973—“the United States undertakes this participation in accordance with its traditional policies.” We will give you a text. These principles are as follows:

“1) The Government of the United States of America will contribute to postwar reconstruction in North Vietnam without any political conditions.

“2) The United States will agree with the Democratic Republic of Vietnam to establish a United States-North Vietnamese Joint Economic Commission within 30 days from the date of this message.

“3) The function of this Commission will be to develop programs for the United States contribution to reconstruction of North Vietnam. This United States contribution will be based upon such factors as:

“(a) The needs of North Vietnam arising from the dislocations of war;

“(b) The absorptive capacity of the North Vietnamese economy;

“(c) The availability of the necessary funds through annual appropriations by the United States Congress.

“4) Preliminary United States studies indicate that the appropriate programs within the framework of the preceding paragraph will fall in the range of $3 billion over five years. This estimate is subject to [Page 1322] further study and to detailed discussion between the Government of the United States and the Government of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam.

“5) The Joint Economic Commission will have an equal number of members from each side. It will agree upon a mechanism to administer the program which will constitute the United States contribution to the reconstruction of North Vietnam. The Commission will attempt to complete this agreement within 60 days after its establishment.

“6) The members of the Commission will function on the principle of respect for each other’s sovereignty, non-interference in each other’s internal affairs, equality and mutual benefit. The office of the Commission will be located at a place to be agreed upon by the United States and the Democratic Republic of Vietnam.

“7) The United States considers that the implementation of the foregoing principles will promote economic, trade and other relations between the United States of America and the Democratic Republic of Vietnam and will contribute to insuring a stable and lasting peace in Indochina. These principles accord with the spirit of Chapter VIII of the Agreement on Ending the War and Restoring Peace in Vietnam which was signed in Paris on January 27th, 1973.”

That is really the maximum we can do. I would hand you this text and it would be understood between us that it would be delivered to you on January 30th in Paris by Colonel Guay. If he can get an appointment.

Le Duc Tho: So it will be, as I understand, a unilateral note.

Dr. Kissinger: It will be a unilateral note from the U.S. to the Government of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. Then on January 31st we announce my trip—without reference to the note, but it would be understood that the implementation of it would be one of the subjects of my trip.

Le Duc Tho: I will study this draft but preliminarily I would say a few words as for this.

Regarding the paragraph regarding the guidelines on which will depend the reconstruction program: first the needs arising in North Vietnam from the dislocations of war; second, the absorptive capacity for aiding North Vietnam. I agree the first is right, but the second regarding the capacity, this guiding line is not necessary.

Dr. Kissinger: We don’t want you to export the dollars you get.

Le Duc Tho: Regarding the annual program of funds allocated by American Congress, it is your internal affair.

Dr. Kissinger: We have no choice.

Le Duc Tho: We will discuss with you on the amount of money later, but how to get this money is up to you and we need not have it here.

[Page 1323]

Dr. Kissinger: We will make a program between us and we can make a major effort to get it from Congress. And we will almost certainly succeed. But we have to write this in case this note ever becomes public. It is an absolute necessity, and it is also the truth. We will consider your point about (b) and whether we can do something.

Le Duc Tho: Yes, I think that we will raise a number of principles. As to how the American Congress will approve it, it is your internal affairs.

Dr. Kissinger: But we need it.

Le Duc Tho: Moreover I think we will not publish this message in any case, because it is between I and you, therefore these guidelines should not be in the message.

Dr. Kissinger: Mr. Special Adviser, really, with all respect, we may have, when we ask for the money, to show the message in great confidence to the chairmen of the committees who must approve the money, and we must have some guidelines in a message like this. But we can modify the sentences like “the absorptive capacity of the North Vietnamese economy.” We don’t have to say that. We will find something else to say which is neutral. After we have discussed it here, when we redraft it we will show it to you again this week. After we take account of your comment. [Hands over copy of draft at Tab D.]

Le Duc Tho: Another important point is that the amount here is smaller than the amount we proposed to you. But there is another point, about “without repayment.” On many occasions you told me that the contribution is without repayment. It is not mentioned in the message.

Dr. Kissinger: That is another one of these Congressional problems. It is very difficult. I understand what we have discussed. It is very difficult for us to put this in writing. When we make the actual grant we can do it, but to make it as a promise before we have spoken to the Congress can have exactly the opposite effect. We don’t want any repayment. This is not the problem. No one else has ever repaid us; I don’t know why you should be the first! Even countries that have an obligation.

Le Duc Tho: You have told us this on many occasions but I don’t know why it doesn’t appear in here.

Dr. Kissinger: Because when money is involved . . .

Le Duc Tho: Because the words “without repayment” imply your obligation to heal our war wounds. It is something logical.

Dr. Kissinger: But that is not the point. After the Special Adviser has taught his course at Harvard and studied the American political system he will understand the following: In the conduct of foreign policy the power of the Congress to influence the day-to-day operation is different than what it is when the expenditure of money is involved. [Page 1324] As the Special Adviser must have experienced when Congressional friends of yours came to Paris and could never deliver on what they promised. Not to speak of those who were confused by the Minister. I must say as an aside, all the time that the Special Adviser was telling me that points 1 and 2 of the 7 points were linked, our Congressmen and Senators who were talking to the Minister were under the impression that he told them they could be separated. And the Minister accomplished this without ever lying. He never said so. He just used very complex formulations.

But now let me get back to this problem. When we talk about appropriation of money the Congressional control is very strict. Particularly at the beginning of a program. And if the Congress thinks that we have promised matters that they believe to be their prerogative, then they will refuse them, just to show that they control the finances. And this is why it is very important not to put in writing matters that will be very difficult for us if they exist, but which in practice can be settled very satisfactorily.

Le Duc Tho: No, seriously speaking you told me about “without repayment” twice. Now it would be difficult for me to understand if this word does not appear in the note you will send us. I don’t speak about the ways or the method, the procedures in your country. I don’t know about that, but I think that the promise about “without repayment” is something correct. Because if you send us this message we have to rather record the statement you have made to us. It is better in this message.

Dr. Kissinger: I frankly couldn’t find the statements to which you are referring.

Le Duc Tho: In my record it is there.

Dr. Kissinger: I am sure that Mr. Loi is right now writing it.

Le Duc Tho: I believe that my memory is not . . .

Dr. Kissinger: But I don’t even want to discuss the practical problem with you, because it isn’t really a practical problem.

Le Duc Tho: But it is practical and correct for us.

Dr. Kissinger: It doesn’t really make any difference. The question is, what can we say in a note to you? Let me reflect about your point and I will transmit you a proposal through Ambassador Sullivan. You will see the practice; this is one of the few cases where the practice will be easier than the formula.

Le Duc Tho: No, it is our long-term relationship, and I know that this message will be only the first step because there will be many questions to solve later and it is a long-term relationship. But what is important is mutual trust, mutual confidence, and it is only a promise that you have given us and this promise should reflect. Moreover, I [Page 1325] would like to propose that since it is a note there should be a signature on it and an acknowledgment from our side. So if doing this would be like an understanding. You told me the other day that when we settled this question it would not be a protocol or an understanding; it would be in the form of exchange of note.

Dr. Kissinger: No, you told me that.

Le Duc Tho: Yes, I told you about the note. Then it should be sending note and acknowledging.

Dr. Kissinger: You can acknowledge it.

Le Duc Tho: So I think I would prefer that it is a signed note and I will acknowledge by a signed note too. It is not a letter.

Dr. Kissinger: I am moved by the trust.

Le Duc Tho: It is not between Foreign Ministers but between you and I.

Dr. Kissinger: I must say I am moved by the confidence that you show in us. We have never denied any notes we have sent you—even when you published them under very difficult circumstances for us. And we have no intention of denying this note. But if this is to be kept secret it has to be kept in the channel between the Special Adviser and me. While I don’t suffer from an especially low estimate of myself, I have not yet corresponded with a foreign government with signed documents. But we can make it a message as we did in October in the name of the President to the Prime Minister. It is just—I have no standing to sign a document—and then you can acknowledge the message from the Prime Minister. We won’t deny the message; this has never happened.

Le Duc Tho: This question is a procedural one, but there is still a number of points in the message that I would like to draw your attention to. That is the paragraph, guideline (c), the annual allocation by the American Congress.

Dr. Kissinger: But why do you care about this?

Le Duc Tho: And the second one is the word “without repayment.”

Dr. Kissinger: I will study the question of what we can say that conveys that meaning, implying it without stating it, without ruining you in Congress. It is a legal and legislative problem, it is not a substantive problem. The phrase about Congress we may not be able to do anything about, but I don’t see how it affects you. That is in the U.S. Constitution.

Le Duc Tho: My understanding is that the amount of money is decided in the message “without repayment.” Now as to the availability of funds that American Congress may decide, really it is the internal affair of United States, and in this amount the fund of money decided [Page 1326] in the note will be divided into a number of years. This is what we are interested in.

Dr. Kissinger: That is clear, but the problem is that it has to be voted every year, and if we propose something that the Congress believes assumes that they have already made the decision they will certainly then vote against it. See, the problem is you are the one innocent nation in the world who never dealt with us on economic aid. That is almost the only thing you are innocent of. And we are talking here of a purely domestic thing for America. In substance, we are on your side. It is a pure domestic American problem. It is not a problem between you and us.

Le Duc Tho: I would propose that in the note it will speak about the program of reconstruction and so and so, and the setting up of the Joint Economic Commission so and so, and then the amount to be contributed in a period of 5 years will be so and so, and each year there will be such and such amount without repayment at all. And as to how to get this money in the U.S., it is your internal problem.

Dr. Kissinger: He has already settled the problem of getting the money, because we will never get the money if he is allowed to proceed! We are not saying how to get it; we just say that the Congress has the final voice and are saying this is the best guarantee of getting it.

Le Duc Tho: But I think that if we put this sentence in the note then it will be denial of your promise to us because it would depend on the availability of the decision of the Congress.

Dr. Kissinger: Every agreement we have ever signed with any country in the world, we have always put this in. Every country in the world. You go into a library and look at it. I won’t tell the Special Adviser how to get a vote accepted by the Politburo in Hanoi because I think he knows better than I. Every agreement we have ever signed since 1948 has had that clause in it. It is an American constitutional practice . . . We will put in “according to American constitutional practice” so it is clear it is not a decision of the government.

Le Duc Tho: But in my mind I think that if there is such a provision then the money will not be granted because it will depend on the availability of funds by the Congress.

Dr. Kissinger: [laughs] You can be absolutely sure that with such a provision the funds are certain to be granted, and without such a provision the funds are certain not to be granted. We could just say “annual appropriations by the U.S. Congress” and take out “availability of funds.” The absolutely last problem you have is that we will use such a thing to escape it. Besides it makes no difference; I can write anything down. This is a case where the Congress has almost total power. I have explained this to you many times. You will see, once [Page 1327] this program exists for a year, you will understand that we will use this clause to help you. We are not doing this to find a means of evasion.

We will study the question of the repayment to see whether we can find some formula. But it is very complex.

Le Duc Tho: This is what you had told me.

Dr. Kissinger: You are right; I am not contesting it. The problem is to find how to do it.

Le Duc Tho: But your promise to us is one thing but the difficulty with the Congress it is another matter. So I am not yet satisfied with your section (c), “through annual appropriations by the U.S. Congress.”

Dr. Kissinger: You are not?

Le Duc Tho: I am not satisfied.

Dr. Kissinger: There must be some phrase in there about the Congress, believe me. Now we will study and see whether we can perhaps stick that sentence some other place. Maybe we can put it at the end, which points out that these appropriations are always made annually by Congress. I will study to see whether I can find a formula that meets your point at least part way—in which we separate our intention from the Congress. I will send you a new draft no later than Monday, in which I attempt to take account of your two points, on repayment and the Congress.

Le Duc Tho: And also the “absorptive capacity.”

Dr. Kissinger: Yes, I understand that. That is the easier one to fix. Although from what I hear about your people your absorptive capacity is enormous.

Le Duc Tho: It is our affair and the absorptive capacity depends on our people, on us. As to the needs of North Vietnam, it is another question.

Dr. Kissinger: No, I understand your point, of course. This is not an issue of principle.

Le Duc Tho: So I will further consider the question of your sending us a note. On Monday.

Dr. Kissinger: I will send you a new draft on Monday.

Le Duc Tho: Please carefully consider our views.

Dr. Kissinger: I will carefully consider your views. I think you will have seen that overnight we made an effort to consider your views.

Le Duc Tho: But what important points we are concerned about are not reflected in the paper, and what is reflected is only subsidiary.

Dr. Kissinger: Well, what are you concerned about, the repayment?

Le Duc Tho: The points that we are concerned about is, first, the amount of money that should have been greater because of the recent [Page 1328] bombing caused a great deal of loss. Two, the point on no repayment. Three, the question of the Congress.

Dr. Kissinger: I will say this. It is harder to give away $3 billion to you than anyone we have ever dealt with. [Laughter]

Le Duc Tho: No, you see after over 10 years of war I think it is an obligation of yours. This is something reasonable and logical. So please carefully consider our views.

Dr. Kissinger: Mr. Special Adviser, really, you must understand, and persuade your colleagues: This is not an issue that is contested by us on principle or substance. We are agreed on it. There will be no problems on this unless you create them by your excessive suspiciousness. But we will eliminate that phrase about “absorptive capacity.” We will seriously study a way of expressing your point about repayment. But it will not be a practical problem. And we will make an effort to put the need of our Constitutional requirements in a way which makes it less conditional than it is now. And we will send you our proposal through our normal channel on Monday, or Sullivan will give it to the Minister.

Le Duc Tho: Let me add a few words, Mr. Special Adviser. As you know Mr. Adviser, we talked on this question very lengthily in May 1972 and lengthily in October, and we yesterday also spent much time to discussing this question. You have also discussed with me lengthily on this question, and I think that your statements were very clear. And I think that after the restoration of peace in Vietnam, the relations between the U.S. and Vietnam will create conditions for your contributions to rebuild our country. And I also think that this work of the reconstruction is both your obligation and also your objective. But in my view I would like to have a signed agreement at least between you and I. A signed note. It will create the initial confidence, mutual confidence, because of the promise you have made to me. I understand that this note will help create this mutual confidence, because I understand that practically it will be followed by many things to be done. I know that you will visit Hanoi. We will discuss this question in more detail and we will come to very important decisions. This is also related to your decision to contribute to healing the war wounds in our country. I would like to repeat that this will create the mutual confidence between us. Therefore I think that the note be addressed to us on behalf of the President of the United States to our Prime Minister. Please carefully consider my views. And I would expect that you will keep the promise that you have made today. And on Monday you will give us the new draft and we will consider.

Dr. Kissinger: This we can do: We will give you a new draft of the note, and I will check with the President whether he agrees to make it a note from the President to your Prime Minister, but I am sure that [Page 1329] can be done. I will confirm this on Monday but I think this is very possible, and I will study your remarks very seriously.

But if I may be frank, Mr. Special Adviser, the question of confidence really has to have a mutual element. And if you are enormously suspicious, that is not my problem; that is your problem. If you think seriously about what we have discussed, it is obvious that we have every intention of carrying out what we have said, and you have summed it up reasonably. But I will send you a new draft on Monday and I will seriously consider all of your points. I will pay great attention to them. And I will strongly recommend to the President that it is in the form of a message from the President to the Prime Minister.

Le Duc Tho: So I can say the following: That we can say now that our work has been completed in the main—the Agreement, the understandings, the great principles of the protocols. So there is only this question left. I wish it to be satisfactorily settled to bring our negotiations to a fine conclusion. So please give us a new draft on Monday, and whatever comment we will have I will let you know. And then when you come to Paris again for the initialing then we will definitely settle this question. So that when we come to the signing of the Agreement, then this question will be finally settled already.

Dr. Kissinger: Definitely.

Le Duc Tho: And on the basis of this, when you visit Hanoi we will settle other questions in the wished-for way.

Dr. Kissinger: Exactly, you will see it. We will have a very satisfactory practical solution.

Le Duc Tho: Now that we have completed our agenda, now there is only the schedule to fix it up.

Dr. Kissinger: Should we do it after lunch? Should we see where the photographers are? You brought some photographers too, I understand.

Le Duc Tho: Yes.

Dr. Kissinger: To show you, Mr. Special Adviser, how well we plan and how we are prepared for every contingency: If you had a number that doesn’t divide exactly into four, so that you had half a Pole for the Commission, we would have provided Miss Derus who is half Polish.

Le Duc Tho: Dr. Kissinger; what time will you be leaving?

Dr. Kissinger: 7:00. We have got to get the Minister in. He will never forgive us if he misses a picture. Have we got Mr. Loi? Wait a minute we need the Minister.

[The photographers entered at 1:15 for a 15 minute filming session.]

Le Duc Tho: And in these meetings we cannot miss Mr. Loi. So at what time do you expect to reach Washington?

[Page 1330]

Dr. Kissinger: I will plan to be in Washington around 10 o’clock Washington time.

[The meeting broke at 1:30 for lunch. The two groups ate together, including the principals, for the first time. The meeting resumed at 3:17 p.m.]

Le Duc Tho: Mr. Adviser, please let me now re-expound the schedule, for confirmation, and certain work related to the schedule. You and I have agreed upon the following: On Saturday evening, January the 13th, 1973, you will leave Paris for Washington. You will state that the private meetings in the past few days have been useful. Briefly. But you will mention about the experts, Ambassador Sullivan and me still remaining here and so forth, and we will also state that the private meetings “are making progress,” are in progress.

Dr. Kissinger: You will say we have made progress and that they will continue?

Le Duc Tho: We will say that the private meetings are in progress.

Dr. Kissinger: And nothing else?

Le Duc Tho: And we will continue to say that the experts are continuing.

Dr. Kissinger: What I want to understand is this: If you aren’t going to say the meetings were useful, I am not going to say it.

Le Duc Tho: It is the same. You will say useful negotiation: we will say that they are in progress.

Dr. Kissinger: Or “progressing.” I have to make clear. “In progress” only means they are continuing, so you have to say they are “making progress.”

Le Duc Tho: You would like me to say that the negotiations are useful?

Dr. Kissinger: “Have made progress.”

Le Duc Tho: So you can say the same thing—“made progress” or “useful negotiations.”

Dr. Kissinger: Yes, I will say one or the other. They both mean the same thing. Good. Go ahead. You read all of your things and then I will confirm.

Le Duc Tho: The two sides will not make any other statement that could divulge the substance of the private meetings.

Second, after you leave Paris on January 13, 1973, the experts will continue their work to complete the protocols.

Third, thirty-six hours after you arrive in Washington, the U.S. will completely end the bombing and mining of North Vietnam. Then you will announce officially—make an official announcement—that the negotiations on Vietnam have made progress and the U.S. Government [Page 1331] will completely end the bombing and mining over the entire territory of the DRV as of ______ hours, 1973 Washington time. Then the DRV side will acknowledge the cessation of the U.S. bombing.

Dr. Kissinger: But in a conciliatory fashion. [Laughter] You cannot say you forced us to do it, because it is a voluntary action.

Le Duc Tho: We will acknowledge the cessation of the bombing. Then on January 18 the two sides will simultaneously announce that the private meetings between you and us will be resumed in Paris on January 23 so that the two sides may complete the Agreement on January the 23rd, 1973.

Dr. Kissinger: Excuse me a minute, Mr. Special Adviser. I think we should only say “we will resume the meeting on January 23rd so that the Agreement will be completed.” We should not say we will complete it on January 23rd. I told you now that we will initial it on January 23, but it is better not to say it will be completed that day.

Le Duc Tho: “So that the text of the Agreement may be completed.”

Dr. Kissinger: Period.

Le Duc Tho: Shall we say that “it will be resumed in Paris on January 23 to complete the text of the Agreement?”

Dr. Kissinger: “To complete the text of the Agreement.”

Le Duc Tho: On January 23rd before we initial the Agreement, the document, shall we meet before the initialing?

Dr. Kissinger: Yes, I think we should meet to discuss whatever . . . We have to have a session just for public appearances, so that it looks as if there was something left to do. And we can discuss signing problems. We have assured you there will be no substantive issue raised [laughter], nor technical issues, nor even linguistic issues. There will be no negotiations. But we can discuss procedures, we can complete that note to you, but we should have a three or four hour session which concludes with the initialing of the Agreement. Or a two or three hour session. It is just symbolic.

Le Duc Tho: So on January 23rd, at what time shall we meet?

Dr. Kissinger: 9:30?

Le Duc Tho: At the International Conference Center at Kleber Avenue?

Dr. Kissinger: Yes.

Le Duc Tho: Then we will discuss things before initialing. The procedure, the notes, the exchange of notes.

Dr. Kissinger: Exactly, but Mr. Sullivan and Minister Thach will work out the formalities of initialing.

Mr. Sullivan: In the Cyrillic alphabet.

Le Duc Tho: So to sum up, you and I meet at Kleber Avenue to discuss the note on the healing of the war wounds and then what [Page 1332] remains to be discussed about the initialing. As to the details of the initialing, it will be discussed by Ambassador Sullivan and Minister Thach.

Dr. Kissinger: Right, and we will find other things to talk about too. And we will initial it around 12:30, and I want to return to Washington as quickly as possible, so I will not delay you unnecessarily.

Le Duc Tho: So the documents that will be initialed are the following: (a) the text of the Agreement that will be signed by the Foreign Minister of the DRV and the Secretary of State of the United States, then the four protocols attached to this Agreement; (b) the text of the Agreement that will be signed by the plenipotentiary representatives of the parties participating in the Paris Conference on Vietnam, and the protocols attached to this Agreement.

Then after the initialing then the DRV and U.S. will send official invitations to the four countries that should participate in the International Commission of Control and Supervision. On what day should we do that?

Dr. Kissinger: The 24th.

Le Duc Tho: So the two parties will send invitation letters.

Dr. Kissinger: Yes, we will show you next week our invitation letter. The four-party document has only three protocols attached to it, because of the mines. But we will be glad to let the South Vietnamese sweep some mines up there. [Laughter]

Le Duc Tho: I agree. You are right. I had forgotten. After the initialing of the Agreement, then the experts of the two sides for the mine clearing in North Vietnam will meet to discuss their program of work. Our people are already in Paris.

Dr. Kissinger: Yes, we agree to that.

Le Duc Tho: Now on the 24th of January, the two parties will simultaneously announce that an Agreement has been reached and has been initialed. The two sides will announce the content of the Agreement which has been reached and the time for the ceremony for the formal signing.

Dr. Kissinger: Now here we have a slight problem—just on the timing. We would like the President to announce it the evening of the 23rd, which is about say 10 p.m., that an Agreement has been reached and initialed, and the time for signing. That is 10 o’clock in the morning, Hanoi time, is that agreeable?

Le Duc Tho: I agree.

Dr. Kissinger: But when should the text be released? At the same time?

Le Duc Tho: After announcing that, the text of the Agreement can be published.

[Page 1333]

Dr. Kissinger: Right, now which text?

Le Duc Tho: The two copies of the Agreement.

Dr. Kissinger: The two and the four party.

Le Duc Tho: The two party Agreement and the four party Agreement and the protocols.

Dr. Kissinger: That is all right with us.

Le Duc Tho: All right. The two party Agreement; the four party Agreement, the protocols.

Dr. Kissinger: Let me make a suggestion on the release of the documents, which has to do with the success of our explaining it in America. We can announce that an Agreement has been reached and initialed and when the signing will be—the evening of the 23rd. May I suggest that we release the text of the Agreement at 10 a.m. the next morning.

Le Duc Tho: I agree.

Dr. Kissinger: Then we can explain it to the press. Or do you want 9 a.m.? You prefer 9 a.m.?

Le Duc Tho: I agree.

Dr. Kissinger: Frankly, we don’t want to explain that night. That night our people should be aware that there is peace, not that there are two separate texts of the Agreement.

Le Duc Tho: I agree. The next day, the 24th, 9 o’clock in the morning.

Dr. Kissinger: 9 a.m. in the morning the texts will be released. The two-party document and the protocols. And you won’t be too conscientious and release the understandings simultaneously? [Laughter]

Le Duc Tho: In the evening of the 23rd January when you announce the initialing, the conclusion of the Agreement, the initialing, you will announce also the date of the signing of the Agreement—the 27th?

Dr. Kissinger: Exactly.

Le Duc Tho: And then on January the 27th the official signing ceremony will take place also at Kleber Avenue, International Conference Center. What time will take place the ceremony for the signing of the Agreement between the DRV and U.S. and the protocols initialed to the Agreement, and what time will be take place the signing of the Agreement by the parties taking part in the Agreement, will be decided by Ambassador Sullivan and Minister Thach.

Dr. Kissinger: But we are agreed that the four parties should sign first. In the morning?

Le Duc Tho: I agree the four parties will sign in the morning; the two parties will sign in the afternoon. But for both signing ceremonies there should be solemnity. The same degree of solemnity for each one.

[Page 1334]

Dr. Kissinger: We will let even more press in for the two-party ceremony. There will be even more noise. But no one can match the solemnity of Madame Binh when she sees a member of the GVN. [Laughter]

Le Duc Tho: I agree with you. We don’t say about the two-party signing, but for the four-party signing I agree with you that we should have propitious atmosphere for that.

Dr. Kissinger: But we have an understanding also of a propitious atmosphere at the other. [Laughter] Can we have a moratorium on “wars of aggression” that day while the Secretary of State is in town?

Le Duc Tho: Then on January 28th, 24 hours after the signing of the Agreement, a meeting of the Four-Party Joint Military Commission and of the Two-Party Joint Commission in Saigon to discuss—the Four-Party Joint Military Commission will begin operating and the two South Vietnamese parties will meet to discuss the formation of the Two-Party Joint Commission in Saigon. So how the four-party meeting will operate, how the South Vietnamese will meet, will be discussed by Ambassador Sullivan and Minister Thach.

But now, have you definite views whether the four parties should meet after the initialing in Paris, or shall they meet later?

Dr. Kissinger: No, let us not tempt fate.

Le Duc Tho: I agree with you. I just want to know your views.

Dr. Kissinger: No, we don’t want to take advantage of the Special Adviser. I think one of his proudest creations—the Joint Commission—should meet on the 28th.

Le Duc Tho: When the International Commission will enter Vietnam will be discussed by Ambassador Sullivan and Minister Thach.

Amb. Sullivan: And in the notes that we send to the four parties we will tell them when we expect them to be in place.

Dr. Kissinger: Can you share this information with us?

Amb. Sullivan: If our two Special Advisers would read the protocols they would find it in there. [Laughter]

Le Duc Tho: So then none of us have read the protocols.

Dr. Kissinger: [reads:] Just as I said, on the 28th.

Le Duc Tho: I have knowledge of it just now.

Dr. Kissinger: He is reassured now. His mind is at ease. I have a secret for you, too. We have to put in the time for the ceasefire [in Article 2]. How about midnight the 27th, GMT?

May I propose a change in the text of the Agreement? Could we make the year in which the ceasefire goes into effect 1973 instead of 1972? [Laughter] Oh, we fixed it already.

[Page 1335]

Xuan Thuy: Then we will make complaint to the International Commission that the ceasefire should have been observed in 1972 and you didn’t.

Dr. Kissinger: Midnight GMT, the 27th. That’s 7 a.m. in Saigon.

Le Duc Tho: I agree, so in Vietnam it will be 6 in the morning, 7 in the morning.

Amb. Sullivan: Indochina time.

Dr. Kissinger: I think that was one of the biggest concessions you made to us in our renegotiations—to take out that word.

Le Duc Tho: Now on January 31, the two sides will simultaneously announce your visit to Hanoi, “The Democratic Republic of Vietnam and the United States have agreed that Dr. Kissinger, Assistant to the President of the United States . . .”

Dr. Kissinger: My father will thank you for that.

Le Duc Tho: “. . . will come to Hanoi on February 7, 1973, to discuss with the Government of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam on matters of mutual concern after the war.”

This is my draft. If you have any remarks on it. So the 5th or the 7th, it is up to you.

Dr. Kissinger: No, the 7th or the 8th. I would like to check it in Washington. It will be no later than the 8th.

Le Duc Tho: So on the matters to be discussed, I just raise the following. Please give us your remarks. So I propose the following: One, the U.S. contribution to heal the wounds and the reconstruction. Two, the establishment of diplomatic relations. Three, the convening of the International Conference. Four, other matters each party may raise. As to the technical questions regarding your visit we will discuss it when you come here on the 23rd.

Dr. Kissinger: Right. Airplanes and so forth.

Le Duc Tho: So I meet you on that day, January 23rd. It is our meeting preceding your return to Washington and my return to Hanoi.

Dr. Kissinger: All right. Should I comment on this now? On the trip?

Le Duc Tho: I have another question. It is not relating to the schedule.

Dr. Kissinger: May I make a point on the trip? On the announcements. I think we should perhaps phrase it a little bit more to discuss the establishment of postwar relations or something like that—or a new period of relations. We will send you a draft. In principle, the idea of what you have is right. We will send you a draft during the week. It will not differ in principle very much. Secondly, on the topics, I agree the first is the healing of war wounds, specifically the establishment of the economic commission, which we should decide while I’m [Page 1336] there. And I will be prepared for that. Secondly, on establishment of diplomatic relations, I would suggest also other steps for normalization, such as exchanges of experts and matters of this kind, so it isn’t only diplomatic relations. Third, on the International Conference.

Le Duc Tho: Please raise all your views.

Dr. Kissinger: My view is that we should study in the interval, both of us, what sort of relations we could develop towards normalization. For example, you mentioned [during the photo break] your agricultural problem. We would be in principle prepared to send educational agricultural experts and matters of this kind. Educational exchanges. We would have to study what specific measures are possible.

Le Duc Tho: No, I just raise a number of problems that will be discussed here. But on January 23 we will meet again and then when we meet again we can discuss any questions we raise.

Dr. Kissinger: On the International Conference, I think on January 23rd we should agree on the location and the invitation, and then in Hanoi we can discuss the substance.

Le Duc Tho: I agree. So I raise these three questions: Healing of the war wounds, establishing of the diplomatic relations, convening of the International Conference, but you can raise any questions. There is no problem at all.

Dr. Kissinger: But do you believe that on the Conference we will discuss the procedural questions on the 23rd—the location and how to extend invitations, the procedural questions and so on.

Le Duc Tho: I agree.

Dr. Kissinger: And we can have a preliminary exchange of views on substance when I am in Hanoi.

Le Duc Tho: I agree. Now we have finished with the schedule. Now there is another question about the Kleber Conference.

Dr. Kissinger: May I just sum up on the schedule. I just repeat. I leave at 7:30. I will say we had a useful meeting. You will make a similar statement very shortly afterwards. You will say we have made progress or you can say whatever you want.

Le Duc Tho: So you will make this statement at the airport at 7:30?

Dr. Kissinger: Yes, 7:30.

Le Duc Tho: So I will make it at 8 o’clock then. But you should remember the way I told you about journalists to call me.

Dr. Kissinger: That is right. I will get some journalist to call you. But if we don’t succeed, you will find a way. I am sure the Minister knows and will be able to advise you, Mr. Special Adviser.

Xuan Thuy: Always you make the first step and then I will follow your foot.

[Page 1337]

Dr. Kissinger: We may have difficulty because of the shortness of time reaching journalists ourselves, but there would be terrible speculation in America if we did and you didn’t. I know you don’t bother with these special problems, Mr. Special Adviser, but the Minister will be glad to advise you.

Le Duc Tho: I don’t know about the procedures.

Dr. Kissinger: I think he will think something up by 8 o’clock.

Le Duc Tho: Please be assured by 8 o’clock we will make a statement.

Dr. Kissinger: Good, and if my departure is delayed I will let you know. Then the experts will continue their work and complete the protocols and we will agree to do this by Wednesday.

Le Duc Tho: I agree.

Dr. Kissinger: At 12 o’clock on Monday, Washington time, noon Washington time on Monday, we will announce that we have suspended—we will use the word “suspended”—all bombing and mining of the territory of the DRV because of the progress made in our talks. For your information, Mr. Special Adviser, we will stop several hours before then, in fact. You said you would acknowledge it. We are assuming you will not acknowledge it in any boastful manner.

Le Duc Tho: [laughs] No we do not. We will say nothing of that kind.

Dr. Kissinger: It would, in fact, be very helpful and would make a good impression if you did it in a very conciliatory manner, because we should begin to create the right atmosphere now.

Le Duc Tho: I agree with you.

Dr. Kissinger: And don’t announce it before we have done it [laughter]. You may have some very efficient men in your Foreign Office.

On January 18, at a time to be mutually agreed upon, the two sides will simultaneously announce—probably at noon on the 18th Washington time—that private meetings will be resumed on January 23 for the purpose of completing the text of the Agreement. We will say nothing else. Also, after my departure, except for what we have agreed, neither side will announce, leak, hint or in any way divulge anything about the content of these meetings. Is that agreed?

Le Duc Tho: [laughs] We have always been keeping this agreement.

Dr. Kissinger: Except on October 25th and when the Minister goes on television. The Minister will be confined to writing poetry until then.

On January 19th—you didn’t say this but I think we should agree on it—both sides will approach the French to make available Avenue Kleber for the session on January 23rd.

Le Duc Tho: I had forgotten. 9:30. You will do it at 9:30?

[Page 1338]

Dr. Kissinger: We will meet at 9:30 at Kleber Street; then we will tell the French we will meet at 9:30 at Kleber Street.

Le Duc Tho: Then we will meet at Kleber Street at 9:30.

Dr. Kissinger: Yes, but we will not tell the French anything about initialing or content.

Le Duc Tho: I agree with you.

Dr. Kissinger: The imagination of the French Foreign Minister will supply everything. [Laughter]

On January 23rd at 9:30 we will meet at Avenue Kleber. We will initial the two-party Agreement and four protocols, the four-party Agreement and three protocols. We will agree on a formal invitation letter and we will send it—no, the next day, that is. That is all we will initial. We will discuss the location of the International Conference and the procedure for sending our invitations. And we will discuss the technical and whatever other substantive details that have to be discussed before my trip to Hanoi. And we will agree on a final text for the note on postwar reconstruction. And we will initial around 12:30, and I will plan to leave Paris no later than 3 p.m. At that ceremony there will be official photographers, and the pictures will only be released after the announcement has been made.

Le Duc Tho: I agree.

Dr. Kissinger: That evening at 10 p.m. Washington time.

Mr. Thach: After initialing or after publication of the Agreement?

Dr. Kissinger: After publication. Right. The next morning after publication of the Agreement, we release the pictures. At 9:00 a.m. the next morning we release the papers, Washington time.

Le Duc Tho: I agree.

Dr. Kissinger: At 10 p.m. Washington time there will be a joint announcement on the 23rd that the two sides have agreed on the text of the Agreement, that they have initialed it, and that it will be signed on the 27th in Paris.

Le Duc Tho: And at the initialing your group and our group will come?

Dr. Kissinger: That is correct. We will bring also Mr. Aldrich. I mean everyone who is in this building on our side. And you can bring anyone you want except Madame Binh. [Laughter]

On the 24th at 9:00 a.m. there will be a joint release of the text of the Agreement.

Le Duc Tho: And the protocols?

Dr. Kissinger: And the protocols, correct. And we will brief about it, in a conciliatory fashion, but our people require some explanation about the subtleties of the Vietnamese mind.

[Page 1339]

On the 24th also the experts on mining will begin meeting.

On January 27th there will be an official signing at Kleber Avenue—the four-party document in the morning; the two-party in the afternoon, with equal solemnity. Solemnity being defined as the presence of newsmen. [Laughter] Or did you want to have the Cardinal of Paris present?

Le Duc Tho: [laughs] But I think he is delighted if he is invited.

Dr. Kissinger: It is my understanding that in both ceremonies and in the surrounding activities the statements to be made by both sides will be conciliatory and not boastful. Did I understand this correctly?

Le Duc Tho: You are right.

Dr. Kissinger: Of course we may differ about what is conciliatory and not boastful [laughter]. So I would put it also on the basis that if the definition of objective reality on the one side should be subjectively wounding to the other side, it will be omitted that day.

Le Duc Tho: [laughs] But this is too philosophical language!

Dr. Kissinger: On January 28 there will be a meeting of the Four-Party Joint Commission in Saigon and a discussion of the organization of the Two-Party Joint Commission.

Le Duc Tho: The ceasefire?

Dr. Kissinger: The ceasefire will go into effect at 2400 GMT, January 27th. The night between the 27th and the 28th. And 24 hours later, or at 6 a.m. Saigon time, the members of the Special Adviser’s favorite organization—the ICCS—will meet, according to the protocols.

On January 31st there will be a joint announcement of the visit by Dr. Kissinger, Assistant to the President of the United States of America to Hanoi, to take place either February 7 or February 8, on a day we will communicate to you during the week. My father would like to make this announcement. [Laughter] We will send you the text during the week, but it will be substantially what you have proposed. And on January 23rd we discuss the technical arrangements for this trip.

So now I have confirmed this schedule without change. And it will be carried out without change.

Le Duc Tho: And on January 30th a note on the healing of the war wounds.

Dr. Kissinger: You didn’t raise it.

Le Duc Tho: I have forgotten it.

Dr. Kissinger: It is too late! I have accepted your proposal. You are renegotiating your own proposal and I don’t think this is a technical change which I can accept! All right, on January 30th you will get a note. I will confirm that on January 30th you will get a note on the healing of the war wounds.

[Page 1340]

Le Duc Tho: So now I completely agree with you on the schedule you have just presented. Shall I put it on paper and it will be confirmed by Ambassador Sullivan and Minister Thach, lest we should forget?

Dr. Kissinger: [laughs] I sometimes have the impression that you trust me only 99%. May Ambassador Sullivan show me the schedule when you send it to him? No, it is a good idea. Give it to him. He will send it to me and we will confirm it to you. It is a good idea.

And both sides will exercise restraint in their remarks about each other from now on. Especially in the adjectives used to describe each other’s leaders.

All right, you had one other problem. Article 8(c)? Article 5? [Laughter]

Le Duc Tho: We should exchange views now on Kleber Avenue Conference. How shall we do it?

Dr. Kissinger: Thursday we have agreed to have it.

Le Duc Tho: My intention is the following: We privately exchanged the views on that question, and I think your view is right, that after the signing of the Agreement, the Paris Conference should continue for one or two more months so that there will be contact between the two parties, the three parties, and so on, between you and I.

Dr. Kissinger: But do you envision weekly sessions? I don’t think so. My proposal is we keep the Conference in session and if any party wants a meeting, they can request it.

Le Duc Tho: In a word, it is not weekly sessions but the four delegations will remain here so that they will get together.

Dr. Kissinger: My view exactly. No problem with that.

Le Duc Tho: Because I think that after the signing of the Agreement, the two South Vietnamese parties should discuss the procedural questions about their meetings, about the implementation of the Agreement, and then the three Vietnamese parties which shall have to meet and discuss things, and the U.S. and DRV will have things to discuss too.

Dr. Kissinger: We will keep the delegations here and we will see what work develops. And we will meet this Thursday, but not meet the following Thursday.

Le Duc Tho: The Thursday after the meeting we will cancel it.

Dr. Kissinger: Yes.

Le Duc Tho: So then after the initialing, then the four delegations will remain in Paris so that the two South Vietnamese may get in contact and discuss the South Vietnamese questions, and from it there will be a three-party meeting, and you and I will keep in contact to promote them.

[Page 1341]

Dr. Kissinger: Those will be very happy meetings. But we will see each other anyway early in February in Hanoi. You are going to be there? In your native place?

Le Duc Tho: Certainly I will be there. So we have concluded our negotiations today. We have agreed with each other except for some questions regarding the protocols. We will endeavor to complete this work by Wednesday.

Now before leaving let me say a few words.

The progress, the results, we are achieving today are the result of efforts from both sides. We have completed the text of the Agreement. The understandings, we have agreed on the understandings. We have agreed on the schedule. You and I, we have agreed on many big questions of the protocols, and some remaining questions will be discussed by Ambassador Sullivan and Minister Thach.

Though it is only the first step, but it is a very important, very fundamental step to restore peace in Vietnam. We will fully complete our work on the official signing day. Since we have reached these agreements we should stick to them: The agreement on the text of the Agreement, the agreement on the understandings, and the agreement on the schedule. I agree with you that I will not change anything in the Agreement, in the understandings and in the schedule. I will also abide by these documents. This is a serious and honored promise on my part.

I am confident that in a few days time we will achieve peace. So your visit to Hanoi will mark the end of the era of hostility between us, and open up a new period, a new relationship between our two countries, and I am sincerely convinced that with this mutual effort we shall meet our objectives. I have finished.

Dr. Kissinger: Mr. Special Adviser, I agree with the sentiments you have expressed. I also consider the Agreement and the understandings and the protocols completed, and I undertake, on my part, that we will not request any change in them. I consider the protocols completed and concluded in principle, and I know Ambassador Sullivan and Minister Thach will conclude the drafting by Wednesday. I am certain that the schedule will be carried to a conclusion without interruption and that peace will come at last to Indochina and to our two peoples on January 27th as we have said. [Tho nods yes.]

After the Agreement is signed, a great deal will depend on the spirit in which it is implemented.

Le Duc Tho: You are right.

Dr. Kissinger: We will strictly observe the Agreement. But beyond this, there have been many agreements in Indochina that have only been interludes in warfare. This should be an agreement that marks [Page 1342] the beginning of genuine peace. The basic guarantee for this peace is an improvement in the relations between our two peoples. We have gone through many painful and difficult years. I want to say that we are determined to dedicate ourselves to the improvement of this relationship. And if we pursue it as energetically as we have pursued our previous period of hostility, I am certain that we will succeed. And if that happens, Mr. Special Adviser, then we will be able to look back on this day as an historic moment in the history of our two peoples, in the history of Indochina, and in the development of peace in the world. [Tho nods yes.]

So there remains only for me to say that the Special Adviser and I have spent many hours together—sometimes difficult, sometimes painful—but always with mutual respect, and if I may say so, I believe this personal respect and confidence can be one of the elements of the realization of the objectives which I have described.

Le Duc Tho: I can also very solemnly tell you that once it is signed, the Agreement will be strictly implemented. And the implementation of the Agreement will create mutual trust and will pave the way for our relationship not only immediately but also for the long-term relationship.

We are parting now in a very successful moment. What I have been telling you today, I will honor it. And actually throughout our negotiations there have been very harsh and difficult moments. But precisely these particular moments will leave a strong memory in us and give us mutual comprehension. Precisely these moments will open up a new stage in our future common path. And I firmly believe in that.

[The meeting adjourned at 4:55 p.m.]

  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 La Fontaine au Blanc, St. Nom la Bretèche. All brackets, except where noted, are in the original. The tabs are attached but not printed; on Tabs A, B, C, see Appendix 3.

    After the meeting, Kissinger informed the President: “We confirmed the final texts of the agreement and all associated understandings, and settled all the remaining issues of principle in the protocols.” Repeating what he had said many times before to Nixon, Kissinger made clear: “The problem now of course is in Saigon.” To that end, he and others were making every effort to persuade Thieu to accept the settlement as negotiated. For example, he continued:

    “I had a very useful session with Thieu’s envoys, former Prime Minister Do and former Ambassador to the U.S. Diem, last evening. They had also gotten the right messages from Capitol Hill. Diem is returning to Saigon and their report should be of help. We have also provided Bunker with argumentation about the agreement, which I used here as well with the South Vietnamese, in order to start paving the way for Haig’s mission.” ( Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, vol. IX, Vietnam, October 1972–January 1973, Document 276)

    The Capitol Hill reference is to Nixon’s directing Kissinger to get prominent conservatives and supporters of South Vietnam in the Senate—Republican Barry Goldwater from Arizona and Democrat John Stennis from Mississippi—to say publicly that the settlement was good for South Vietnam and that President Thieu should accept it. See ibid., Documents 294297. “Haig’s mission” refers to Haig’s trip to Saigon where he was to see President Thieu on January 20. According to Haldeman, President Nixon explained how Haig should carry out this task:

    “His [the President’s] strategy there is to keep the whole approach with Thieu on our terms, and we don’t want to appear to be begging, especially on the record. The P made the point that Haig must take a very hard line on Thieu, that he’s here only as a messenger, not to negotiate, that the P has been totally in charge of all this, and he will go ahead regardless of what Thieu does.” (The Haldeman Diaries, Print Edition, p. 569)

    Haig met with Thieu in Saigon on January 18 and 20. For his reports on the meetings, see Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, vol. IX, Vietnam, October 1972–January 1973, Documents 292, 310, and 311.

  2. Bracketed insertion supplied by the editor.