57. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Le Duc Tho, Representative of the Government of the DRV
  • Nguyen Co Thach, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs
  • Phan Hien, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • Col. Hoang Hoa
  • Dong Nghiem Bai
  • Phan Ngac
  • Nguyen Dinh Phuong, Interpreter
  • Two Notetakers
  • Dr. Henry A. Kissinger, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
  • Ambassador William H. Sullivan, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs
  • Ambassador Graham Martin, Ambassador-Designate to the Republic of Vietnam
  • Helmut Sonnenfeldt, NSC Senior Staff
  • Mr. George Aldrich, Deputy Legal Advisor, Department of State
  • Mr. William L. Stearman, NSC Staff
  • Mr. Peter W. Rodman, NSC Staff
  • Mr. David A. Engel, Interpreter
  • Miss Irene G. Derus, Notetaker

Kissinger: This is like old times. I’ll hand you a document and if you will sign it we’ll take a walk. I know you came with good will and a serious attitude. How is my old friend, Minister Xuan Thuy?

Le Duc Tho: He is all right and he’s working all the time.

Kissinger: I noticed he was in Peking agitating against me. [Laughter] As I have already told you outside, I have the difficulty that I no longer know how to address you. I am still a Special Advisor but now apparently the community of Special Advisors no longer exists.

[Page 1491]

I would like to express my personal pleasure of seeing what I remember as the Special Advisor again. Mr. Le Duc Tho and I have done important work together. We have done important work together and I think we owe it to our two countries and to the peoples of the world to strengthen what has been achieved and to bring about its strict implementation.

Among the many clauses of the Agreement last year, among the many goals we set ourselves, perhaps the most important from a historical point of view was to bring about the normalization of relations between the Democratic Republic of Vietnam and the United States of America. This still remains one of our chief goals, and we have both agreed that the conditions for it would be provided by the strict implementation of the agreement.

I have noticed in the brief conversations I had with Mr. Le Duc Tho that peace has not mellowed him. So I am certain that we will have our usual animated discussions. [Laughter]

Le Duc Tho: So you have foreseen the situation.

Kissinger: Well, I have learned a little about objective reality. [Laughter] But I think we should remember that we are still in a condition of peace; that our objective should be to strengthen it, and that we should not slide back to the conditions that first brought us together. We are prepared to meet with you in this spirit, to deal with you with good will, and hopefully to end these meetings with progress both towards implementing the Agreement and the normalization of our relations.

I would like to now ask Mr. Le Duc Tho how we should proceed, whether he should like to make some general observations. And then we can decide who will attack first. [Laughter]

Le Duc Tho: Every side has the right to keep one’s initiative in attacking the other side.

Kissinger: But we should do it in some sort of orderly procedure. [Laughter] And I think that at an appropriate moment the first sign of progress will be to eliminate Vice Minister Thach and Ambassador Sullivan so that the serious people can get down to business. [Laughter]

Le Duc Tho: You have finished, Mr. Special Advisor?

Kissinger: Yes. I still have to read this book from cover to cover, but this is just a short personal introduction.

Le Duc Tho: Please let me speak a few words as an opening speech. After the conclusion of the Agreement I thought that we would meet this time in a better atmosphere. But to my regret we are meeting here again—the people are the same, the scenery is the same—but to my regret the situation has not developed in the best way.

[Page 1492]

Kissinger: The Special Advisor isn’t complaining about the people? It is getting to be like a reunion of war veterans. We should have a reunion every October 12 or October 8.

Le Duc Tho: I would think that afterward in the future, when everything is settled, then we should fix that date when we should all meet together to recall the past experiences.

Kissinger: Especially the Two-Point Elaboration that didn’t elaborate anything. [Laughter]

Le Duc Tho: We should recall many things! The situation at present is developing with many events but, however, I have come here to meet you again. This is an expression of my good will really, to find out means to put an end to this bad situation. But I believe that I am coming here not to be subjected to you making pressure on me, and you should understand me well. And I would hope that you will show the same spirit of good will and serious intent, and, if so, I am confident that once again we will succeed in bringing about a good solution to the problem.

Because our objective is nothing but bringing about a peaceful solution to Vietnam and to the whole area. And afterward we will establish a better relationship between our country and your country. This position of ours has no change at all. As you have just said, on the basis of scrupulous implementation of the Agreement then we will achieve the normalization of relations between our two countries. It should be our objective and it is indeed our objective. So we shall indulge in our work now. And as a sign of courtesy I give you the opportunity of attacking me. [Laughter]

Kissinger: I have explained to Ambassador Martin, who is new to this process, that when we meet in an American house the Special Advisor, as a sign of courtesy, lets me speak first, and when we meet in a Vietnamese house, because of the traditional Vietnamese hospitality to guests, the Special Advisor also lets me speak first. [Laughter] But wherever we meet, the Special Advisor speaks last.

Let me make a few observations. But before I turn to that, let me take up a comment that Mr. Le Duc Tho made. I don’t want to show any disrespect and I would like to call him Mr. Deputy Prime Minister, but I don’t know whether he considers that a promotion or a demotion.

Le Duc Tho: (laughs) No, it is not a promotion nor demotion.

Kissinger: I have to point out to my old colleagues one melancholy fact—that everyone associated with these negotiations on both sides has been promoted except I. Everybody.

Le Duc Tho: That is the reason why I see changes in your side.

Kissinger: That is right. Let me introduce the new individuals on our side. Ambassador Martin is here with us. He will go to Saigon, [Page 1493] but he is here so that he understands exactly what we have agreed on and can use his maximum influence to bring about its implementation.

Le Duc Tho: [to Martin]: So your responsibility is rather heavy. And I would hope that you will strictly abide by the provisions of the Agreement.

Ambassador Martin: I will do the best I can, according to the instructions I receive.

Le Duc Tho: But the instructions should be correct ones [laughter]. And the instructions should be given as to the strict implementation of the Agreement.

Kissinger: No, we are here to work out an understanding about the strict implementation of the Agreement on both sides. Ambassador Martin will be instructed to carry out precisely and in detail what we have agreed on here, and he is attending these meetings so that he understands exactly what we have agreed on here. And you can assume that these will be his instructions. And we will expect the same scrupulous adherence on your side.

Mr. Stearman has replaced Mr. Negroponte, who is one of the casualties of our negotiations, because his physical constitution was not up to his moral intention. Mr. Negroponte has been transferred to Latin America to recuperate from the onslaughts of the Special Advisor and the two Ministers.

Le Duc Tho: It is wrong to put this blame on me. [Laughter]

Kissinger: Wrong to put the blame on you?

Le Duc Tho: Wrong to put the blame on me.

Kissinger: Well, our physical endurance isn’t up to that of our North Vietnamese counterparts. The only American negotiator who ever did anything after he met with you was Ambassador Porter, and that is because he refused to meet with you. And, of course David Bruce, but it took him a year to recover.

Mr. Rodman you remember.

Mr. Sonnenfeldt you have seen once before. In the meantime he is handling European affairs for me, and what we call East-West relations, and I want to convince him that he is dealing with a more tranquil area and easier people.

Mr. Engel you remember, and Miss Derus, who is the only Polish member concerned with these activities who takes an objective view. In fact we believe that it would improve the implementation of the Agreement if she replaced one of the Polish members of the ICCS in Saigon. So now you have met our new associates.

Le Duc Tho: As for our side, they are all old people known to you already.

[Page 1494]

Kissinger: [Indicating a gentleman at the end of the table] I don’t think I met this gentleman before.

Le Duc Tho: So our ranks are steady.

Kissinger: Well, I miss Mr. Loi. [Laughter] I don’t think we will have discovered all the subtleties of any agreement we may make until Mr. Loi has a chance to study it and make his comments.

Le Duc Tho: Before my going here I told Mr. Loi that no doubt Dr. Kissinger and Ambassador Sullivan will remind me of the presence of Mr. Loi.

Kissinger: Did he blink when you said this to him? [Laughter]

Le Duc Tho: He is blinking all the time.

Kissinger: Well, Mr. Special Advisor and gentlemen, we suggested this meeting last month because we were concerned that the Agreement on which we had worked so hard and for which we had hope was in serious danger. We signed the Agreement with the serious intention of bringing an end to the fighting throughout Indochina and to bring about the normalization of relations between your country and ours. And, as I told you many times, we intended and still intend to pursue that course of normalization with the same seriousness and the same intensity that we have pursued it with other countries.

The Special Advisor mentioned the possibility that we are here to exercise pressure. But I think we have enough experience with each other now to realize that pressure by neither side can be useful.

Le Duc Tho: [laughs] So it is a good thing if you have understood that.

Kissinger: By either side. Every time either side has tried to use military pressure, there has been a violent reaction from the other side, and the situation became more difficult. So we should not meet here—and we do not meet here—with the attitude of planning military moves. We should meet here, on both sides, with the attitude of accelerating the process that we started last year, and consummated this year, towards a peaceful settlement of Indochina and particularly towards a rapid normalization of relations between our two countries.

Now our two countries over the last months have exchanged many notes of many allegations. You know our view about the violations which we believe have been committed by your side, and which we can demonstrate have been committed by your side. I do not think any useful purpose is served by my reading a long list repeating what we have already communicated to you and what Ambassador Sullivan has taken up with his co-saboteur, Vice Minister Thach.

You know that it is our view that you have not complied with Article 20 of the Agreement.

You know that we have evidence that you have moved thousands of tons of war material into South Vietnam in violation of Article 7 [Page 1495] and Article 15 of the Agreement. It is a contribution to the history of relations among states to find 350 tanks, 300 pieces of long-range artillery and several battalions of anti-aircraft guns and missiles classified as civilian goods not subject to the restrictions of Article 7.

We have told you that we believe you have not carried out Article 3 and that you have impeded the work of the International Control Commission as well as the Two-Party Joint Military Commission.

Now I have here a document which lists all the violations that we believe have been committed on your side and which we would appreciate you would study. I see no purpose in spending time reading it at this meeting. These are only the highlights. We have a longer document with further details, but I don’t want to overtax Mr. Phuong’s translation overnight. [He hands over the document listing the violations, Tab A.]

But, Mr. Special Advisor, I recognize that you, too, have some complaints.

Le Duc Tho: Many complaints.

Kissinger: And I was to add a phrase you would have appreciated, but I am now going to debate whether I will make it, since you interrupted me. I was going to say something that the Special Advisor has never said about me in four years. I was going to say that some of your complaints are even justified.

We recognize that the Agreement, the implementation of the Agreement, requires improvement on both sides, and this is why Ambassador Martin is here with me. But we also believe that the much more serious violations have occurred on your side.

But I am not here to debate this. I am here because both of our countries have an important decision to make. In the early days of the Agreement it was possible to overlook many violations because it was difficult to make the transition from years of warfare to peace. But if the violations continue now, then much more serious questions are raised. We did not sign the Agreement simply to bring about the return of our prisoners. If we wanted that, it was not necessary to make such a complex instrument taking so many months of negotiations. We believe that the Agreement which we negotiated over so many months and with such great care must be strictly implemented. We cannot possibly be indifferent to the violations of provisions which we solemnly signed and which were internationally ratified.

I have told you many times, and I repeat it now, that we will not be an obstacle to the pursuit of your objectives by peaceful means. We will not be an obstacle to the pursuit of your objectives within the framework of this Agreement. And we will not conduct a policy which is directed against the legitimate interest of your country. But we will not ignore, nor can we accept, systematic violations of the Agreement.

[Page 1496]

But the more important mission that I have here is not to catalog the transgressions of the past. And I would recommend that we do not spend an excessive amount of time charging each other with specific acts of violations. We are here to make a serious effort to make concrete arrangements to bring about a strict implementation of the Agreement on both sides. We are prepared to carry out immediately those parts of the Agreement that remain unfulfilled which remain in our control. We are prepared to use our influence to bring about the implementation of those provisions where there has been a deficiency which is subject to our influence. We hope that you will adopt the same procedure, throughout Indochina, in Vietnam as well as in Laos and Cambodia. And if we work in this spirit, then by the time we both leave here we will have taken a major step forward and we can then realize all of the hopes that we held when we initialed the Agreement and when I met the Special Advisor in Hanoi.

Now I am sure that the Special Advisor has a slightly different perspective produced by a more subjective approach, which he will want to put before me [laughter]. And then I think after we have had that exchange we might begin to work on the concrete details.

Le Duc Tho: I have just listened to your rather general statement, and particularly you wrongly accuse us of mainly violating the Agreement. Therefore I will answer to your statement. Now let me express a few ideas of mine.

Kissinger: Of course, if the Special Advisor reads his entire statement I will go back and read my entire statement. [Laughter]

Le Duc Tho: Actually I have come here in the face of a situation fraught with very serious developments. And therefore I think our aim, our purpose to come here, is to find out measures to be applied and to settle this situation. But you said that we have violated the Agreement systematically and the violations were mainly committed by our side.

Kissinger: I would hate to think it wasn’t systematic, because if it wasn’t systematic I would hate to think what you would do if you did it systematically. [They smile.] If this was accidental, then I hate to think of what you are capable of.

Le Duc Tho: Because you used those words, therefore I have to reply and mention the U.S. violations, and violations committed by the Saigon Administration. I have carefully listened to the views expressed by Mr. Special Advisor so now I have to express my views and pose specific problems that we have to discuss to find out measures for the settlement of these problems. And finally I will reply to your views and make some comments on the views you have just expressed.

During this meeting between you and me, the basic question is to determine whether after the conclusion of the Agreement we have [Page 1497] ushered in a period of genuine peace so as to establish normal relations between us, or shall we continue to be hostile to each other. Shall we follow the goal of maintaining peace in this area or shall we continue the war? Only a clear determination of our orientations will help settle the problems that we are raising. And that is a very fundamental and very important question.

During the ten years of war you have spent a great deal of money and the loss of a great deal of human lives to interfere and to be engaged militarily in our country. But finally you have to put an end to this war and pull out your troops from our country with a peace agreement. You have pledged to respect the South Vietnamese people’s right to self-determination and to refrain from imposing any government or specific personality on South Vietnam. But in practice over the past three months we wonder how much your pledges explicitly laid down in the Agreement are still valuable. You are still continuing your own policy without any change. After the conclusion of the Agreement, President Nixon stated that he would support the Saigon Administration as the only legal administration in South Vietnam. But that administration had been set up by the U.S. itself. You want to deny the role of the Provisional Revolutionary Government of the Republic of South Vietnam.

In the course of the meeting between President Nixon and Nguyen Van Thieu, President Nixon stated that he would continue to implement the Nixon Doctrine in South Vietnam and would maintain U.S. commitments toward the Saigon Administration, and still the U.S. wants to stick to South Vietnam. As a result of the U.S. policy, many essential provisions of the Paris Agreement on Vietnam have not been scrupulously implemented.

Kissinger: May I interrupt to point out to the Special Advisor that we are doing something historic again. We are serving tea in coffee cups in honor of the Agreement. It is a psychological experiment to see if it will taste like tea to you.

Le Duc Tho: Yes, the cups are old cups but the tea may be new. But the main things is the cups.

Kissinger: So you think you are drinking coffee: it will taste like coffee to you.

Le Duc Tho: What I have just said is that the basic causes that make the situation very serious. Now let me raise now the specific problems that in our view the U.S. and the Saigon Administration have systematically violated the Agreement.

With regard to South Vietnam, after the troop withdrawal, the U.S. still leaves behind tens of thousands of military personnel disguised as civilians in South Vietnam.

[Page 1498]

You publicly announced that you would give nearly as much military aid as during wartime. You brought in tens of thousands of armaments into South Vietnam and you publicly admitted this introduction of weapons into South Vietnam.

Kissinger: When was this, after the Agreement?

Le Duc Tho: Yes, after the conclusion of the Agreement. You organized the three American Consulates in the three military regions of South Vietnam, but actually those three Consulates are three camouflaged military commands in the military regions in South Vietnam.

The order of the ceasefire has not been respected by the U.S. and the Saigon Administration. Immediately after the ceasefire became effective the Saigon Administration launched thousands of encroaching operations and mopping up operations, launched continuous air attacks against regions under the control of the PRG. And of late the U.S. sent its aircraft to bomb the regions of Loc Ninh and Xa Mat. This is a new development in U.S. intervention in South Vietnam by force. Previously the Four-Party Joint Military Commission issued an order of ceasefire but the Saigon Administration refused to respect this order of ceasefire. Recently the delegation of the PRG in the Two-Party Joint Military Commission proposed that the two parties will jointly issue an order of ceasefire, but once again the Saigon Administration refused this proposal.

Kissinger: You have the date?

Le Duc Tho: A few days ago.

Kissinger: Well, we will find it, don’t worry about it.

Le Duc Tho: May 15.

Kissinger: The day before yesterday.

Thach: May 11.

Le Duc Tho: May 11. In our view, the ceasefire is not a difficult question to be implemented if the two parties are willing to do so. If not as you said, that it is a difficult question to shift from the conditions of war to the conditions of peace. I still remember that in the past, whenever there was some festival or some national day, then the two parties agreed to observe the ceasefire.

Kissinger: Except in 1968. A slight problem in ’68 when the word didn’t get to all the units of the North Vietnamese . . .

Le Duc Tho: That is another story. [Laughter]

Kissinger: That is like the Two-Point Elaboration.

Le Duc Tho: This falls under the military field. [Laughter] Therefore, in our view, since we have concluded an Agreement and if we are willing to observe the ceasefire, within 24 hours there will be a ceasefire. But actually the U.S. and the Saigon Administration still intend to maintain a state of war to a certain extent in South Vietnam.

[Page 1499]

Therefore, for instance, on May 13 Nguyen Van Thieu stated he would continue his program of pacification. All democratic liberties and national concord measures have been trampled under foot by the Saigon Administration. The population is still subjected to coercion, purges, and are forcefully herded into strategic hamlets. And as a result the situation has become very tense in South Vietnam.

There has been no return of Vietnamese civilian personnel. You have promised that you would use your influence over the Saigon Administration so that a great part of these civilian personnel will be returned within two months after the ceasefire and the remaining number of civilian personnel would be returned in the third month after the ceasefire. When Mr. Advisor visited Hanoi you told me that within a few days’ time 5,000 civilian personnel held by South Vietnam would be returned, but now three months have elapsed and only a few hundreds of personnel are returned to the PRG. When you left Hanoi, your words went away with you.

The conference between the two South Vietnamese parties have held tens of sessions but there is no progress at all.

Kissinger: Excuse me, I missed the last one. After the 5,000 when my word went away with me. This is the last thing I heard. I was so shaken by that.

Le Duc Tho: When Mr. Advisor visited Hanoi.

Kissinger: That I heard—but after that.

Le Duc Tho: The conference between the two South Vietnamese parties have held tens of sessions but without any progress at all because of the unreasonable demands put forward by the Saigon Administration.

In the past, the Saigon Administration created many cases of provocation and intimidation against the Four-Party Joint Military Commission which prevented the activities of the Four-Party Joint Military Commission, and now the Saigon Administration refuse to apply the immunities and privileges to the delegation of the PRG at the Two-Party Joint Military Commission. As a result the Two-Party Joint Military Commission cannot yet deploy its forces and carry out its mission.

With regard to the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, an independent and sovereign country, you have continued to allow reconnaissance flights over the Democratic Republic of Vietnam in spite of the messages you sent to me promising that if those reconnaissance flights occurred you would punish those who ordered those flights. In fact, those promises are only hollow promises.

You also invoked one pretext or another to prolong indefinitely the mine clearing operations, so that after several months only a few mines have exploded, and now you have stopped the mine clearing operations.

[Page 1500]

Regarding the Joint Economic Commission, which has not completed its set program of work, you have unilaterally stopped the meetings of the Joint Economic Commission. Moreover, many personalities in the U.S. Administration, including Secretary Elliot Richardson, have repeatedly strengthened to resume the bombing of North Vietnam.

It is clear that your intention is to use the mine clearing operation, the work of the Joint Economic Commission, and threats as bargaining trumps to make pressure on us.

You want even to use other people to make pressure on us. I think you should not use . . .

Kissinger: Like who?

Le Duc Tho: Probably you understand.

Kissinger: No, we wouldn’t do that. We tried it, but the Laotians absolutely refused to do it. [Laughter]

Le Duc Tho: I think you should not use dollars as a means to bargain with us. The participation of the U.S. in healing the war wounds of Vietnam is an obligation of yours. This is in our interest, in your interest, in the interest of both sides. It should be pointed out that you have overused threats and pressure against us. Over the five years of our negotiations this has proved to be vain efforts. We remain unswerving. We are people who respect reason, respect the truth, and we are right to demand that you too, you should respect reason and the truth.

With regard to Laos, although the Agreement on Laos has been concluded, the discussions on the protocols are being protracted without any settlement.

Kissinger: It is a little tough to negotiate when your negotiators are never there. That creates certain specific difficulties.

Le Duc Tho: You have given air support to the troops of the Vientiane administration, launching encroaching operations against the regions under the control of the Pathet Lao in violation of the Agreement on Laos.

With regard to Cambodia, you have stepped up very fierce air attacks in Cambodia, and the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives are opposed to the air attacks in Cambodia by the Nixon Administration.

Kissinger: May I recall to the Special Advisor a rule we discussed three years ago that should be enforced? You have been consistently wrong in your assessment. You will be wrong again. But other than that let us not discuss it.

Le Duc Tho: Let me finish the first sentence. Considering the bombing of Cambodia as an illegal act, therefore, the Senate and the House [Page 1501] of Representatives refuse to appropriate funds to carry out these attacks in Cambodia.

I just point out this fact that the stepped up bombing of Cambodia is a wrong deed: not only we are opposed to that but even the American people are opposed to the bombing in Cambodia. This is what I wanted to mention.

Kissinger: The American people are our problem, not the Special Advisor’s. And if he remembers, he has not always been right in his assessment.

Le Duc Tho: Whether I was wrong or right, you are aware of that.

Kissinger: But we do not need to delay on that. We will continue to other matters.

Le Duc Tho: Because this is related to your stepped-up activities in Cambodia, therefore I mention this fact. All those violations of the Paris Agreement on Vietnam and the happenings in Laos and in Cambodia are evidence, undeniable proof that make one doubt the value of your commitments and your respect of the provisions of the signed Agreement. However, you said that we have violated, systematically violated the Agreement and flagrantly violated the Agreement. In doing so you have confused right and wrong. You do not make difference between white and black. You have violated the Agreement and you demand that we implement the Agreement. This sounds paradoxical. All parties must scrupulously implement the signed Agreement. This is a correct point of view.

The situations have become now very serious. The lessons of the implementation of the 1954 Geneva Agreement on Vietnam and the 1962 Agreement on Laos are being repeated. The responsibilities are entirely on the U.S. side and the Saigon Administration.

Now we are facing two paths. The first path is that you will continue your neo-colonialist policy. You will continue to violate the Agreement, thus making the situation more and more serious. The second path will be that we must scrupulously respect the Agreement and put an end to the period of hostilities and to shift to a period of peace so as to establish normal relations and friendly relations over the long term between each of us.

If you follow the first path the consequences will be unpredictable because in South Vietnam the war is still going on, and war has its own laws. It will develop from small battles to bigger war, and you will step-by-step continue to interfere in Vietnam and then to face the danger of returning to the war a second time. I think you have drawn necessary conclusions regarding the mark left behind in your country by the Vietnam war over the past ten years, and you know how the political and economic situation in your country has been affected by [Page 1502] the Vietnam war. President Nixon himself admitted that the golden time of the U.S. after World War II can no longer be seen even in dreams.

Kissinger: Which times?

Le Duc Tho: The golden times.

Kissinger: The golden times have always been in the past! No country has ever lived in the golden age. When the Special Advisor and I teach our joint course on philosophy we will have a few lectures on that subject—about the nature of the Golden Age.

Le Duc Tho: Yes, actually now our concepts of the golden time differs.

Now let me continue. The Vietnam war greatly influenced and affected the situation in the U.S. and greatly affected the international situation, and even affected the relationship between big powers. In Southeast Asia the situation after the war has also changed. The military blocs set up by the U.S. exist now only nominally but not actually. The countries which were your allies such as Australia and New Zealand are opposing your war policy in this region. Even the Philippines are demanding to review a number of agreements signed with U.S.

Kissinger: We are sending Sullivan there; this won’t last long. [Laughter]

Le Duc Tho: In Thailand all the broad movement is developing to demand the withdrawal of U.S. from Thailand. I think that you should realize all these developments I have just mentioned and you should not return to the old route and continue to be involved militarily and continue to interfere in South Vietnam; this will bring about a new era in Vietnam for a second time. If you continue to apply your policy on a position of strength, to implement the Nixon Doctrine and to implement neo-colonialism in South Vietnam, then your course of action does not conform to the changing situation at present. And, if so, there is no reason that we will remain idle. Our people will have no other way to follow than to continue our struggle. This is a vital path for our people in the face of the continued hostilities carried out by the Saigon Administration with your backing and encouragement.

We earnestly do not want to continue the war. We earnestly want to scrupulously implement the Agreement that has been signed. We earnestly want peace, and this is very clear. But you do not let our people to live in peace and therefore our people are compelled to struggle to live, and no doubt victory will once again belong to the Vietnamese people. We Vietnamese we are a people subjected too much to aggression and oppression. We will continue our struggle, and if we continue our struggle we will have hardships and sufferings, but we will lose nothing but the chains which you still intend to put on our peoples’ necks. But if we continue our struggle we will gain freedom [Page 1503] and independence. That is the reason why our people think there is nothing more precious than independence and freedom.

We think you have considerable intelligence and wisdom to choose your path to follow in keeping with what Mr. Advisor told me in the course of our negotiations, in keeping with what the U.S. has pledged to respect regarding the implementing of the Agreement, and in keeping with the promises you made to me when we initialed the text of the Agreement and even what you have just said today. We think that this course of action conforms to reality, conforms to the general trend of the world today. I think that this is conforming to the reality and conforming to the general trend of the world today.

And in our view, the second path I have mentioned above is the best way, the way we have promised to follow. The way that is in the best interests of both sides. If peace is generally really restored in Vietnam and in Indochina, this will contribute to the stabilization of the situation in the U.S. and this will offer an occasion for you to contribute to the reconstruction of Vietnam and Indochina on a new basis, on a basis of mutual respect and non-interference in each other’s internal affairs and beneficial to both sides. On this basis, you will have interests in Indochina, and in this region. But if on the contrary, if you continue the war as you are doing now in South Vietnam and continue to violate the Agreement this development will not happen.

We fully understand our position in this region. An independent and peaceful Vietnam will be a stabilizing element in this area. You should clearly realize this position of Vietnam and approach the problem correctly. Peace in Vietnam and Indochina is not only in the interests of the U.S. in this area but it will be a propitious influence to the countries in this area, in the interest of everyone, including the United States. And this will be a propitious influence over other regions, in the interests of other peoples, including the United States. So peace in Vietnam and Indochina is in the interest of both sides. In the course of our negotiations, particularly since October 1972, we have repeatedly told you about this policy of our country. This policy remains unchanged. We reaffirm this policy now.

With regard to North Vietnam, we want peace to reconstruct our country devastated by so many years of war. If we do not want peace then we would not have signed the Agreement with you. We do want normalized relationship with you. Even when North Vietnam was still hot with U.S. bombing and shelling, we received you in the capital of our country, and had talks. We have carried out the negotiations with you in the economic field on a great scale. We do want that the relationship between our countries be based on a long term, not only for five years or ten years, but for a longer term. The relations between our two countries will not only be normalized but gradually lead to friendship and establishment of diplomatic relations.

[Page 1504]

At your invitation I do want to visit your country, to further tighten the friendship between our two countries on a new basis but in a new situation. But if the situation continues to develop as it is developing now, how can I visit your country now? Without a desire for peace there cannot be such actions as I have just mentioned. To our regret, these activities do not develop rapidly and smoothly, because you have hampered the development by your very serious violations of the Agreement.

With regard to South Vietnam, we have no other objective or desire than to recognize the reality that there are in South Vietnam two administrations, two armies, two zones of control and three political forces. The two South Vietnamese parties must respect each other and not try to eliminate each other, so as to ultimately realize peace and national reconciliation and concord and generally democratic political competition, and eventually to organize general elections to determine a genuinely democratic and neutral system for South Vietnam without foreign interference, and to advance toward the reunification of Vietnam by peaceful means and not by force. Those are the objectives of our government and of the PRG of the Republic of South Vietnam. Those objectives remain unchanged. Those are also the explicit provisions of the Agreement.

But the Saigon people have deliberately violated those provisions, ignored these realities, denied the political reality of South Vietnam, and want to continue the war and to eliminate the role of the PRG. But the Saigon Administration people will never succeed in doing so. In the past ten years, with over half a million U.S. troops, the Saigon people could not realize their goal. How in the present condition can they succeed in doing so? They will be resolutely struck back by the PRG, and they cannot avoid heavy defeat. Because they run counter to the aspirations for peace, for national concord of the South Vietnamese people. With the policy of continued war of the Saigon Administration, how can peace be really restored in South Vietnam?

We earnestly desire peace and a scrupulous implementation of the Paris Agreement. But this will depend not only on us but also mainly depends on the United States and the Saigon Administration. If you now give up your present policy and strictly implement the Agreement, and then the Saigon Administration will do the same—and first of all if you strictly respect the provisions of the Agreement that I have mentioned above, then there will be peace, then a new era will be opened up for our two peoples. And only on the basis of respect and strict implementation of the Agreement by both sides can we realize what both of us have been expecting, on both sides. This is the best way. There is no other way.

On the basis of the clear determination of the path we have to follow, then we can endeavor to find out the orientation and the con[Page 1505]crete means to settle the problems that we will raise. We have come here with good will and a serious intent, prepared to settle specific problems so as to bring good results to these discussions, so as to arrive at better relations between our two countries. I hope that you will approach with the same attitude.

I have finished my statement. Now I will point out the specific problems that we have to solve.

In view of the Agreement and the protocols on implementation of the Agreement during the recent period, we think there are two categories of problems. The first category of problems directly regards North Vietnam and the second category of problems directly concerns South Vietnam. In the first category of problems there are the following urgent problems. First, the continuation of mine clearing in North Vietnam by the U.S.; second, the resumption of meetings of the DRV/US Joint Economic Commission; and third, the complete cessation of reconnaissance flights by the U.S. over North Vietnam.

The second category of problems, regarding South Vietnam—there are the following pressing problems: First, the implementation of the provisions on ceasefire; second, the complete return of military men and civilian personnel, Vietnamese civilian personnel, captured in South Vietnam; thirdly, questions in connection with Chapter IV of the Agreement, on the right to self-determination of the South Vietnamese population, including two questions—first, the immediate enforcement of democratic liberties and national concord in South Vietnam, and second, the formation of the National Council for National Reconciliation and Concord.

Besides those questions you have mentioned Article 20 regarding the question of Laos and the question of Cambodia. If you want to exchange views with me at any point on these problems, I am prepared to discuss.

Kissinger: You know my concern with the Ho Chi Minh Trail.

Le Duc Tho: I have fully understood your concern, and you are also aware of my concerns too.

So I have finished my statement and I have pointed the problems that need our discussions, and I propose one by one we discuss these questions. In case you want to raise other questions, go ahead and then we discuss those. Those are problems we ourselves have raised: if you want to raise any questions. As to the views you expressed at the beginning of our session here, in the course of our discussions I will reply to you. I propose a little break now, and after that we resume.

Kissinger: I would first like to point out that the Special Advisor is well prepared for his lectures at Harvard, because his presentation was within the 50-minute time frame which lectures at Harvard require. [Page 1506] Of course, it is not yet clear whether I can go back to Harvard, but I know he will always be welcome.

Now on our future discussions, I agree with the Special Advisor that we should take a break; then I will make some comments on his presentation. I agree with his work program, together with any points we want to make. I think we should go point-by-point through all the complaints either side has, analyze specifically what the objections are of either side to the performance of the other, and see if we can’t find concrete remedial measures. Either side should be able to propose and then find concrete remedial measures. This will be our objective.

Le Duc Tho: I agree with you.

Kissinger: Shall we take a little break, Mr. Special Advisor?

Le Duc Tho: I earnestly want to visit Harvard University but it depends on you!

Kissinger: Let me say this, Mr. Special Advisor. If we have this discussion with the attitude that everything has to be done by us, it will be totally useless. Both sides have a responsibility.

Le Duc Tho: But the main responsibility is on you. [Laughter]

[The group broke at 12:05 p.m. for lunch. Dr. Kissinger and Le Duc Tho conferred privately at the table—Dr. Kissinger broached the idea of a joint memorandum of understanding. Le Duc Tho said he would consider it.]

[The formal meeting resumed at 2:00 p.m.]

Kissinger: Mr. Special Advisor, may I propose a plan of work for today and for the rest of our visit here?

I propose that we work this afternoon until 3:30, because I must see the French Foreign Minister at 5:30. Incidentally, not about our work here. [Laughter] Although, as I have pointed out to the Special Advisor, it is going to be very difficult to complete our work without the assistance of Mr. Schumann. He always made very moving and eloquent statements after both of us saw him. But I have to say he was more confused after the Vietnamese side saw him than after I saw him. I always gave him last month’s proposal, but I always had the impression you gave him last year’s proposal.

Le Duc Tho: You have a deep impression of Minister Schumann.

Kissinger: And of our colleagues from the other side here. Tomorrow morning, I have to see President Pompidou. These meetings are to prepare President Nixon’s meeting with the French leaders in Iceland at the end of this month. So if it is agreeable to the Special Advisor, I propose that we meet tomorrow afternoon, any time from 2 o’clock on.

Le Duc Tho: Three o’clock, I propose.

Kissinger: Yes. As you say, it is up to you. [Laughter] At three o’clock then. And then we should make a plan of work which we meet [Page 1507] every day for some hours. I cannot possibly stay beyond Tuesday. The Special Advisor is very disciplined, and I say this only so that he can prepare his plan of work and we can mutually agree on it.

Now I think we should plan to have, at the end of this meeting, a clear understanding of the two sides of what is required for the strict implementation of the Agreement, and perhaps a written understanding of what the specific measures are that each side should take.

Now let me make a very few observations about what the Special Advisor has said. I was glad that he did not challenge the implementation of Article 23 of the Agreement. [Laughter] So at least we have made some progress. Now I agree with the Special Advisor that we are now at a very important juncture. Both sides have to decide whether we should head for a prolonged period of peace or whether we should slide into a new cycle of violence, which will have inevitably the same consequences we have had in the past; namely that our two countries will confront each other once again. As far as the United States is concerned, our policy is to bring about a period of peace, of normalization, and eventually of friendship. And if we can bring this about, the ultimate evolution of events in Indochina will take place in a completely different atmosphere.

So the important question both of us have to answer is, as I have already said in Hanoi—do we want to use this Agreement as an offensive weapon or do we want to use it in building a new relation between our two countries? If the former, then we will repeat what we have already experienced in the past, with serious consequences. If the latter, that is to say if we begin a period of peace, the United States is prepared to make a major effort, recognizing that the strict implementation of the Agreement is a prerequisite.

I think both of our sides have this responsibility.

Now with respect to some of the specific points that the Special Advisor made, let me—there is no sense in rebutting every last one of them because we are here to do positive work, not to criticize each other’s presentation. So I will point out some misconceptions in the Special Advisor’s presentation insofar as they affect U.S. actions, and then I will turn to some positive proposals.

The Special Advisor pointed out or alleged that there were tens of thousands of American personnel in South Vietnam disguised as civilians. We are familiar only with some 8,000 Americans in all of Vietnam, of which 206 are military; 156 of these are guards in the American Embassy in Saigon and the rest are military attachés. But this is a point we can be specific about in any understandings we reach.

The Special Advisor spoke of the bombing of South Vietnam. I don’t make exorbitant claims for the accuracy of the United States Air [Page 1508] Force. They have been known to miss their targets. But they rarely miss their country. And they are not authorized to attack in South Vietnam at this moment.

Now I have a long list of other points which I would be prepared to contest, but I don’t think it serves any useful purpose, because we are not here to discuss the merits of accusations about the past but rather to see what we can do about the future.

At the end of his presentation the Special Advisor said there are two categories of problems; those that concern North Vietnam and the U.S., and the other set that concerns, in addition to North Vietnam and the U.S., also the South Vietnamese parties. There is also a third category of problems that concern the other countries of Indochina, Laos and Cambodia, which we believe must also be discussed.

Now I accept all the points that the Special Advisor raised as needing improvement in the implementation of the Agreement, and I will accept his suggestion that we add to those the points that we want to raise. And, therefore, let me stop talking about the past and let me make some specific suggestions to the Special Advisor, going through the Agreement article by article stating what we are prepared to do—and what we propose that you do. If we can come to an understanding about this, then we can express this in an appropriate memorandum and use that as the basis for our further work. So rather than break it down according to the categories you have, Mr. Special Advisor, if you permit me, let me go through the Agreement article by article and propose to you what I think should be the outcome of our discussion. First . . . [one of the DRV side hands Le Duc Tho a copy of the Agreement] I thought the Special Advisor knew it by heart. [Laughter]

Le Duc Tho: No, I can’t know it by heart.

Kissinger: Especially Article 20.

First, with respect to Article 2. The U.S. will be prepared to stop, immediately upon our reaching an agreement, all aerial reconnaissance over the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. Also, in accordance with Article 2, the U.S. will be prepared to resume mine clearing operations within an agreed period of days and to complete it successfully within another agreed period of days.

In accordance with Articles 2 and 3, there should be established within a fixed time period a complete ceasefire throughout South Vietnam.

Fourth, again in accordance with Article 3(b), the two sides should, within a fixed time period, agree on the delimitation of areas controlled by each. You remember how many days we spent on zones of control? We are finally accepting it.

Fifth, again in order to improve the implementation of Article 3, local military commanders of the two South Vietnamese parties at [Page 1509] appropriate levels should be authorized to meet to carry out the provisions of the ceasefire protocol.

Six. We have nothing to suggest about improving Articles 4, 5 and 6, so I now turn to Article 7. With respect to Article 7, the introduction into South Vietnam of troops, military advisors and military personnel should cease immediately.

Point 7, again in conformity with Article 7, the clandestine introduction into South Vietnam of arms, munitions and war materials must cease immediately, and the introduction should be limited to replacements. I might add, incidentally, that military combat equipment cannot be used to transport civilian goods. So you cannot introduce razor blades in the barrel of 130 mm guns.

Eighth, the points of entry should be designated by both South Vietnamese parties immediately, and all military equipment should come through those points of entry.

Now I turn to Article 8. First with respect to Article 8(a), any captured personnel under the provisions of that article that have not been returned should be returned immediately.

Tenth point. I now turn to Article 8(c). The Vietnamese civilian personnel covered by that article should be identified immediately and returned as soon as possible, and each party should make available to the other without delay all information available concerning the fate of all missing persons covered by this article.

I am giving you the basic ideas. This is not expressed in formal language.

In point 11, with respect to Article 11, we believe that the two South Vietnamese parties should inform each other and the other parties of the Paris Agreement of the measures they are taking to implement that article.

Point 12, referring to Article 12, we should call on the two South Vietnamese parties to establish the National Council of National Reconciliation and Concord as soon as possible and to designate the personnel for it as soon as they can agree.

Point 13. Again, we should call on the two South Vietnamese parties to move as rapidly as possible towards an agreement on the internal matters called for under Article 12(a).

Fourteen concerns the strict implementation of Article 15 of the Agreement involving respect for the demilitarized zone. And it points out, and we propose, that military equipment can transit that zone only if introduced into South Vietnam only as replacements permitted pursuant to Article 7 of the Agreement.

I now turn to the section which has always been particularly close to the Special Advisor’s heart, the one dealing with the international [Page 1510] control machinery. [Laughter] I know he will give special attention to bring about its efficient operation. Of course we wouldn’t want your Hungarian and Polish allies to be bored in South Vietnam.

First, we propose that we agree here that in conformity with Article 17 the Two-Party Joint Military Commission should be fully staffed within an agreed period of time and its teams should be deployed to all places where the teams of the ICCS are to be deployed, including the designated points of entry.

With respect to Article 17—this is my 16th point—the Two-Party Joint Military Commission should be immediately accorded appropriate privileges and immunities similar to the privileges and immunities enjoyed by the Four-Party Joint Military Commission.

Seventeen. We propose in conformity with Article 18 that the International Commission of Control and Supervision should be authorized to carry out all necessary travel between its headquarters and its teams and among its teams and that all military personnel in South Vietnam should be informed of this.

We have an 18th point about Cambodia and a 19th point about Laos, the essence of both of which is that with respect to Cambodia we believe a ceasefire must be established rapidly, and with respect to both of them a fixed time for the withdrawal of foreign forces must be set.

With respect to Article 22, or 21, the U.S. will be prepared to resume the meeting of the Joint Economic Commission within an agreed time period and to agree that its work should be completed within an agreed short time period.

As the Special Advisor can see, we have gone through this Agreement with great care, and we have made a serious effort to meet your concerns. We will be prepared to come to an understanding based on this general approach, or to embody it in a formal written document. I believe we have answered every one of the points which you have raised. And I believe we have given you a basis which will bring about the strict implementation of the Agreement and a rapid improvement in the relations between our two countries.

Of course we would have to agree on the time period in each of these various categories. We believe that is a soluble problem.

Le Duc Tho: I propose that I will ask a few questions, and after you answer them we will postpone until tomorrow. Because I will think over the proposal in the presentation you have just made.

Kissinger: I wish to point out to the Special Advisor that if he has a more favorable proposal with him he should not be bashful about proposing it. I see he has a few more documents with him.

[Page 1511]

Le Duc Tho: The first question is about the time limit you have mentioned here. Because the time limit you mentioned is not yet concrete.

Kissinger: It is non-existent! [Laughter] I have carefully avoided making it concrete, Mr. Special Advisor.

Le Duc Tho: Regarding the reconnaissance flights, you mentioned that would be stopped immediately after an agreement here, but on what date? And regarding the mine clearing operation.

Kissinger: We are prepared to stop the reconnaissance flights immediately.

Le Duc Tho: But in what time limit?

Kissinger: With respect to the first question, we would be prepared to end those immediately upon reaching an agreement. With respect to the second question, we are prepared to give you tomorrow a concrete time period, which will be short. And shorter than any time period we have given you previously. The time it would take us to assemble our mine clearing force and the number of days it would take to complete the work. But I can tell you now we will be ready to resume minesweeping within six days of our coming to an agreement.

Le Duc Tho: The same for the time fixed for the ceasefire—you have not mentioned the specific date on which the ceasefire must be observed. The same for the determination of the zones of control.

Kissinger: We haven’t given you any fixed times for anything and we would be glad to get your suggestions on these dates. The time frame for those matters that are within our control, such as reconnaissance flights and mine sweeping, we will suggest to you. On things like ceasefire, there is a question of getting in touch with various commanders, and we have to do it by mutual agreement, but we are prepared to propose a very short time period.

But I agree with the Special Advisor that the time period by which the ceasefire must go into effect should be shorter than the time period for the delimitation of zones of control, but not too much.

Le Duc Tho: Regarding Article 21 too, you have not fixed just when the Commission should resume its work, when its work should be completed. In a word, all these time limits have not been settled.

Kissinger: No, but I say again all this will not be a major obstacle to a negotiation. On matters under our control. Especially if the Special Advisor can curb his normal impetuosity. Would you like to know our time limit for Article 20? I don’t want to keep you in suspense.

Le Duc Tho: Also regarding the return of the captured military personnel and civilian personnel. If you want to put a specific time limit you can. But in a word you have raised many questions but in general they have not been specific. It sounds just like a repetition of [Page 1512] the Agreement. So, therefore, my view is that you should speak in more concrete terms, and then I will express my views.

And secondly, there are matters you said are under your control and others that are not under your direct control; therefore if we discuss and come to agreement here then later you will retract and invoke the pretext that South Vietnam will not respect the agreement. What happens then? For instance, if now we agree on the question of the ceasefire or the question of the zones of control or the deadline for the release of captured military personnel or political detainees, or regarding the work of the two South Vietnamese parties, or regarding the immunities and privileges of the delegations—supposing we come to good results in our talks here but afterward regarding the implementation of the agreement you will invoke the pretext of the nonimplementation by the South Vietnamese, then our agreement will not be implemented. And I think that regarding problems concerning the U.S. and the DRV, those are not very great problems, and they can be easily solved. But regarding problems concerning South Vietnam, if now we come to an agreement here but later you will say the South Vietnamese will not agree to that, will you then guarantee the implementation of the agreement we have reached here between the U.S. and DRV? Because if the agreement reached here will not be implemented, then the situation of the violation of the Agreement will remain unchanged.

What I wanted to do here is to discuss with you and to come to a real settlement that will be implemented by all parties. So, at the first hearing of your statement, I feel that it may be discussed and come to a solution, but what I want to know is the specific time limit regarding those questions and regarding the problems concerning the South Vietnamese. We must solve these questions, because otherwise we can’t come to a settlement and the Agreement we reached last year will not be implemented. The lack of specific time limits and more concrete terms in your proposal . . .

Kissinger: He was all right until things started making progress. Maybe we should have Sullivan and Thach do some technical things. We were making good progress as long as these two were doing protocols. Do you want me to answer, Mr. Special Advisor, or do you have more comments.

Le Duc Tho: Those are my preliminary comments.

Kissinger: I have noticed that the Special Advisor didn’t press me on specificity with respect to Article 20.

Le Duc Tho: [laughs] You may propose some specific proposals. So I have expressed some views and you can reply to my comments to me today or tomorrow.

Kissinger: Let me make a brief comment today and then we can discuss it in greater detail tomorrow. Obviously a proposal to improve [Page 1513] the implementation of the Agreement must, in a sense, parallel the Agreement and use some of its same language; that is inherent in the situation. Obviously if either side wants to violate the Agreement, saying the same thing again will not prevent violation of the Agreement. But we wouldn’t be here if we did not want to improve the implementation of the Agreement and if we did not want to turn the relationship of our two countries toward normalization. And therefore the mere act of reaffirming the solemn commitment of both of our countries to a new understanding would have its significance. Obviously if either side wanted a confrontation, we wouldn’t have to meet here.

Now with respect to the specific time limits, we will make specific proposals and you should make specific proposals. And I honestly believe that if we meet each other in a constructive spirit we will solve these, because it is in both of our interests to reach agreement on realistic time limits that can be implemented rapidly.

Now with respect to the third point, which in effect says how do either of us know if the friends of the other side will carry out the agreement? We are both realists, and we have to recognize that this presents a difficulty—for us in South Vietnam; for you in Laos and Cambodia. We know that Madame Binh is so docile and easy to get along with that there will be no difficulty for you in South Vietnam. [Tho grins]

Now we both have to recognize the difficulty. Now if we come to an understanding—and Ambassador Martin is here for that reason—we will make a very major effort to bring about its implementation. Some of the provisions, like the ceasefire, should be implemented very rapidly. Other provisions, like the political process, we have both recognized—when we talked privately—will take a little longer. But neither of us will be able to fool the other. If we now come to an understanding, we will see soon enough whether it is being implemented—and if we wanted to break the understanding we wouldn’t be here in order to sign it. So we believe that agreement between the two of us would give us an opportunity, and an obligation, to bring about the implementation of those things we can do ourselves and of those things that our friends should do.

Le Duc Tho: Let me add one more sentence and we will discuss tomorrow. Because we have got experience about the understandings we reached with you before the signing of the Paris Agreement. For instance the understanding regarding Article 8(c), you promised me that; but so far the promise has not come true. Then today you said the agreement we reach here depends also on your ally, therefore I wonder whether the agreement we reach here will be implemented. Will you guarantee the agreement we reach here will be implemented?

[Page 1514]

I provisionally believe in your statement this time, that you come to Paris for the purpose of coming to real settlement of the problem.

Kissinger: I think the Special Advisor is really getting a little mellow!

Le Duc Tho: So therefore I hope that you will come to an understanding that will come true and it will match words and deeds. And I would like to stress the fact that we cannot say that we come to an agreement here but the implementation of the agreement still depends on our allies; then it will come to no result. Because the question here is the implementation of the Agreement. We have signed the Agreement; now we make review of the implementation of the Agreement, and we must ensure the implementation of the Agreement by both sides. By all the parties. And in this spirit we will continue the discussion.

Kissinger: Mr. Special Advisor, I accept the proposition that we have the responsibility to bring about the implementation of what we agree to. But I cannot accept the proposition that we have to reassure you alone. Because after all, in our view, Article 7, Article 15, parts of 8(c) and 20 have been totally violated by your side. We can ask, how do we know that when you sign this document that will be carried out anymore than the Agreement you signed?

We start from the assumption that this time when we sign it it means you will implement it, because the loss of confidence would be so great if we sign another document and that too is immediately violated, that there would be no possibility of reviewing it.

Le Duc Tho: [laughs] First of all I would like to point out that the alleged violations of the articles you have just mentioned I must reject, but I will reply to you later. I agree with you that this time if we succeed in coming to an agreement, then the agreement must be implemented by all the parties, and it should not be that we will have to do again the task for a third time.

Kissinger: I agree with you.

Le Duc Tho: So we will postpone and meet again tomorrow. At Gif.

Kissinger: Good. Three o’clock tomorrow at Gif. That means the Communist Party of France will get tapes.

Le Duc Tho: You were always haunted by this thought of bugging. [Laughter]

[The meeting then adjourned.]

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 114, Country Files, Far East, Vietnam, Paris Memcons, May 17–23, 1973. Top Secret; Sensitive; Exclusively Eyes Only. The meeting was held at St. Nom la Bretèche. All brackets are in the original. Tab A is attached but not printed.

    This round of six meetings, beginning with this one and ending with the one on May 23, took place a little over 3 months after the Paris Peace Accords were signed. During these months, the military on both sides—Republic of Vietnam as well as Communist forces—violated the cease-fire hundreds of times. Moreover, North Vietnam, in violation of the agreement, was in the process of sending over 300 tanks, approximately 300 artillery pieces, substantial amounts of war matériel, and thousands more troops to the South. Also troublesome to the United States was that no cease-fire had been instituted in Laos or Cambodia and thus none of the thousands of North Vietnamese troops in those two countries had been withdrawn. The United States had proposed these negotiations in April in order to deal with these problems and to get the cease-fire and, more generally, full implementation of the agreement back on track. This period is discussed in Willbanks, Abandoning Vietnam, pp. 188–194, and Kissinger, Years of Upheaval, pp. 302–327.