63. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Le Duc Tho, Representative of the Government of the DRV
  • Nguyen Co Thach, Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs
  • Phan Hien, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • Colonel Hoang Hoa
  • Dang Nghiem Bai, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • Pham Ngac
  • Tran Quang Co
  • Nguyen Dinh Phuong, Interpreter
  • Notetaker
  • Dr. Henry A. Kissinger, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
  • Mr. Ronald L. Ziegler, Press Secretary to the President
  • Ambassador William H. Sullivan, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, Ambassador-designate to the Philippines
  • Ambassador Graham A. Martin, Ambassador-designate to the Republic of Viet-Nam
  • Mr. George H. Aldrich, Deputy Legal Adviser, Department of State
  • Mr. Lawrence S. Eagleburger, Deputy to the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
  • Mr. William L. Stearman, NSC Staff
  • Mr. Peter W. Rodman, NSC Staff
  • Mr. Richard S. Thompson, Department of State, Interpreter
  • Miss Irene G. Derus, NSC, Secretary

Dr. Kissinger: Today is Mr. Aldrich’s wedding anniversary. Let me introduce the new people here, Mr. Special Adviser: Mr. Eagleburger, an old associate of mine who is replacing Winston Lord, and Mr. Ziegler who is here to see what I have been doing for three years.

Le Duc Tho: I have known Mr. Ziegler by name since a long time, but this is the first time I meet him.

Dr. Kissinger: Now you have hurt Mr. Eagleburger’s feelings. In Wisconsin Mr. Eagleburger is a very well-known man.

You’re the host, Mr. Special Adviser. [Laughter.]

Le Duc Tho: Everytime, whenever I meet Mr. Adviser I have something to complain, always something. But today I am willing to leave aside the complaint I wanted to make. [Laughter]

[Page 1648]

Now Ambassador Sullivan and Minister Thach, the two saboteurs, have discussed, but they, both of them, have been constructive. The Joint Communiqué is completed now and agreed upon. The schedule has been agreed upon as you said the other day. Now the outstanding question is the four-party meeting tomorrow. So I feel the four-party meeting is acceptable. But there will be no initialing at that meeting. But I wonder why that meeting should last two hours as suggested by Ambassador Sullivan. Because according to Ambassador Sullivan it will be a pro forma meeting. And I don’t know what Mr. Adviser will do in this two-hour meeting; but for myself, I would think that I will have to recite poems then. [Laughter]

Dr. Kissinger: No, I thought we might read the January 27 Agreement to the two South Vietnamese parties; it might help Mr. Vien in his work.

The Special Adviser forgot one minor problem that we thought we might discuss also today. You know it is located at the end of the Ho Chi Minh Trail.

Le Duc Tho: Now the few understandings have been discussed by Ambassador Sullivan and Minister Thach and they have agreed to them, the understanding on Laos and the understanding on the Vietnamese civilian captured personnel. Now you still raise the understanding of the problem situated at the end of the Ho Chi Minh Trail. I don’t know what problem it is you refer to.

Dr. Kissinger: Before we get to the problem of the Special Adviser’s students and their lack of responsiveness to his instructions, I would like to raise a question about the understanding on Laos.

I find the Special Adviser so well rested that it will take at least ten hours to make him reasonably tractable.

Le Duc Tho: So you want to exhaust me before launching attacks against me? [Laughter]

Dr. Kissinger: Just a little bit, yes. There is some dispute whether the Agreement on Laos has been correctly quoted in the understanding. In paragraph (c), it now says “After the return of all persons who were captured and detained because of their collaboration with the other side during wartime, each Laos party” and so on and so forth. Our people claim that the correct version is that “After the return of all persons who were captured—including those imprisoned for cooperating with the other side during the war . . .” In other words our people claim that the correct text is not confined just to those who collaborated but includes all those captured. [Thach hands paper to Tho.]

Is that the version before it was translated into Lao? [Laughter]

Le Duc Tho: It is the translation from the Laotian to the Vietnamese. This is Article 5. Mr. Adviser, I think our wording conforms to the [Page 1649] letter of the Agreement on Laos. Article 5 of the Agreement on Laos reads as follows: “The two Laos parties will return to each other all the persons irrespective of their nationality captured and detained because of their collaboration with the other party during wartime.”

Dr. Kissinger: Well, the text that I have is slightly different and this is why I am proposing the change. The text that I have reads “Both Lao sides will return all persons regardless of nationality that were captured, and those imprisoned for cooperating with the other side, during the war.” [They confer.]

Le Duc Tho: I agree to correct as you have suggested.

Dr. Kissinger: All right. So shall we make it the way it is, “all persons who were captured.” We will just use the exact text that I have here in Article 5.

Minister Thach: Yes, yes.

Le Duc Tho: The English version will be just as you said.

Dr. Kissinger: You have it now.

Mr. Phuong: “After the return of all persons regardless of nationality that have been captured and those imprisoned for cooperating with the other side during the war . . .”

Dr. Kissinger: Captured, comma.

Mr. Phuong: “Imprisoned for cooperating with the other side during the war.”

Dr. Kissinger: Can I read to you what we propose? It is taken exactly from the text.

Mr. Stearman: It isn’t exactly the text. It reflects the text, but it is consistent with the text.

Dr. Kissinger: Would you mind having Mr. Stearman sit on your side. [Laughter] Just move together a little more. May I read what we propose anyway? Will the American side keep quiet? [He reads] “After the return of all persons who were captured—including those imprisoned for cooperating with the other side during the war—each Lao party has the obligation of obtaining information.”

Le Duc Tho: I propose to stick to the wording of the Agreement.

Dr. Kissinger: Can I see it?

Le Duc Tho: So Ambassador Sullivan and Minister Thach have not yet carefully drafted the understanding and therefore we have to review it again. They should have cleared up all these thorny questions before we met.

Dr. Kissinger: So that we can meet in our usual spirit of amity and reconciliation. If you would like, while I study this, to hand us your document on Cambodia, so our translators can check it out for conformity with ours. [Laughter]

[Page 1650]

Le Duc Tho: I have spoken at length about Cambodia and I have given you our draft understanding.

Dr. Kissinger: But you have not yet been concrete, Mr. Special Adviser. Let us finish Laos first.

Le Duc Tho: I am concrete enough.

Dr. Kissinger: One country at a time. So we say “After . . . How would you propose that we express it?

Le Duc Tho: “After the return of all persons irrespective of their nationality that were captured and imprisoned because of their collaboration with the other side in wartime, each Lao party has the obligation of getting and supplying information to the other party about the missing in action in Laos.”

Dr. Kissinger: My recommendation is that we add—this is from the text of the Agreement we have—“After the return of all persons, regardless of nationality, and those captured and imprisoned . . .” In other words, it makes it “After the return of all persons, regardless of nationality, that were captured, and those imprisoned for cooperating with the other side, each Lao party has the obligation . . .” So it covers the two categories.

Le Duc Tho: I agree.

Dr. Kissinger: Have you agreed?

Le Duc Tho: I agree.

Dr. Kissinger: Mr. Ziegler won’t believe all the stories I have told him about you.

Le Duc Tho: I don’t know what you have told Mr. Ziegler.

Dr. Kissinger: He will be like my father. Everytime we disagree he sees the Special Adviser on television and thinks it must be my fault.

Now then, before we go to some unresolved substantive questions, may I discuss the schedule briefly? Tomorrow we meet at Avenue Kleber, in the small room, with a round table. The reason I thought of two hours—but I don’t insist on it—is to give the appearance that something substantive was accomplished. What is the Special Adviser’s view? Can we try to restrain speechmaking? And meet in an atmosphere of concord and reconciliation?

Le Duc Tho: I agree with you that the meeting tomorrow will start at 11 o’clock, and I suggest that it will last one hour only, and at 12 o’clock we will close the meeting and give the announcement. But I would like to ask you what we should speak about at the meeting, or shall we let the people read the documents and you and I will be saved of this task?

Dr. Kissinger: Saved of the reading? I think we should distribute the papers formally to everybody, and perhaps make a brief comment. [Page 1651] Is it possible for the South Vietnamese parties to make brief comments? I think you and I should speak in a conciliatory fashion. And it is my first occasion to meet your South Vietnamese allies and you might tell them that they should make a good impression on me. [Laughter]

Le Duc Tho: Since they have come to such a small room and around a round table, and that has been agreed to by both of us, I think they should speak about the reconciliation.

Dr. Kissinger: All right, and in a non-aggressive way. They will struggle for peace without casualties. All right? And then you and I have a certain responsibility to keep matters from getting out of hand.

Le Duc Tho: Because nothing will be discussed at that meeting.

Dr. Kissinger: [Laughs] You’re an optimist! We will do our best. But each party should be treated respectfully. We are having this meeting to be in conformity with the dignity of all the people who are signing this agreement, and it should not be an occasion to humiliate anybody.

Le Duc Tho: I agree.

Dr. Kissinger: We will behave accordingly to your friends and we would appreciate it if the same were done towards ours.

Le Duc Tho: [Laughs] Minister Nguyen Van Hieu is a gentleman and he will use soft language.

Dr. Kissinger: We will think with nostalgia of Madame Binh, who now we . . .

Le Duc Tho: You have spoken about the short comment by the parties. What short comment do you refer to?

Dr. Kissinger: I think you and I could perhaps say something for three minutes pointing out the work we have done and welcoming the other two parties, and hopefully the other parties will thank us for the work we have done! And everybody could indicate the strict implementation of the Agreement. Something in that sense.

Le Duc Tho: So in brief, the four parties will meet tomorrow in a small room at the round table and each party will speak in a spirit of reconciliation.

Dr. Kissinger: We will do our utmost to bring this about.

Le Duc Tho: [Laughs] But if you do your utmost, then something will happen. So you should not use the word “do your utmost,” you should say you will do.

Dr. Kissinger: I will certainly speak in a spirit of reconciliation and we will really use our best efforts in that direction. In what order should we speak? Otherwise we can easily spend an hour debating the order in which we should speak.

Le Duc Tho: [Laughs] The elder people should speak first.

Dr. Kissinger: The which people?

[Page 1652]

Le Duc Tho: The older people. [Laughter]

Dr. Kissinger: All right. Would you like to speak first?

Le Duc Tho: Yes, I think that is no problem. But you can speak first if you like.

Dr. Kissinger: Well, I have spoken first at every other meeting. I think the Special Adviser might not know how to start. [Tho laughs] It makes no difference. I don’t care. You can speak first or I can speak first, and then the two South Vietnamese parties.

Le Duc Tho: So I think that whichever of us speaks first, it is no problem, but I can speak first. But I would like to say that then we will make a short speech, but I should say that the document is as agreed upon and they will talk of other things and not discuss the document.

Dr. Kissinger: Yes.

Le Duc Tho: They speak about the strict implementation and to encourage each other to strictly observe the document.

Dr. Kissinger: But there can be no claims of victory and no attacks on any of the parties. At least as far as you and I are concerned.

Le Duc Tho: You have known me. I have never used the language that appears to be aggressive [Dr. Kissinger laughs], but I think that the meeting should last only one hour.

Dr. Kissinger: That is right. Now then, shall we issue an announcement right after the meeting?

Le Duc Tho: Yes, I agree.

Dr. Kissinger: Should we release that at 1 o’clock at each of our offices? Otherwise if we do it at Avenue Kleber there will be a debate as to who will speak. I propose the following text for the announcement. “The parties to the Paris Agreement on Ending the War and Restoring the Peace in Vietnam have reviewed the implementation of the Agreement and have agreed on a number of points, which have been incorporated in a communiqué. The text of this communiqué will be made public at 1600 hours today.”

Le Duc Tho: Just this sentence only.

Dr. Kissinger: Which?

Le Duc Tho: The announcement will include only this sentence?

Dr. Kissinger: That is all. That is at one o’clock and then we release the text—two sentences.

Le Duc Tho: So the meeting will begin at 11 o’clock. At 12 o’clock it will be closed. At 1300 hours there will be an announcement.

Dr. Kissinger: Which each of the parties will make from his own office. [Tho nods yes.] There will be no press briefing or anything. There will just be this announcement. Then at 4 o’clock we will release the texts. We can make it 4:30 or 5:00, I don’t care, whichever you [Page 1653] prefer. Then there should be a press conference. I will plan to have a press conference. I don’t want to put any ideas into the Special Adviser’s head. If he feels he can do without a press conference we would not insist on it.

Le Duc Tho: So at 1300 hours, the office of each side will make a short announcement as you have said.

Dr. Kissinger: Identical.

Le Duc Tho: I agree. Please, Mr. Adviser, give us the text, but in general I agree to that, but give us the text and Ambassador Sullivan and Minister Thach will agree on the wording.

Dr. Kissinger: Well, they have taken over.

Le Duc Tho: At the break—not now. So at 1600 hours there will be publication of the document, the full text. As to the press conference, it is up to each side to hold it.

Dr. Kissinger: Right, unless we want to hold it in the same room. I agree, it is up to each side.

Now we plan to do our briefing in a constructive spirit. I have noticed that some of the Special Adviser’s more enthusiastic colleagues tend to put out reports about how the U.S. has been forced to do this or that. Now if this were to be said, it would first, force us to reply, and secondly, it would seriously complicate the implementation of what we have agreed upon.

Le Duc Tho: So I think that we should make a general statement saying that it is up to each side to hold the press conference and up to each side to choose the time of the press conference, and each side will speak constructively at the press conference. But you should not put conditions to me on that question of press conference. But as far as we are concerned, we will say nothing not constructive.

Dr. Kissinger: Now we need a little discussion on our definition of constructive. I will tell you what our general approach will be.

Our general approach will be that peace throughout Indochina is one of the principal objectives of our government. This requires the strict implementation of the Paris Agreement. The Special Adviser and I went point by point through the Agreement to see how the implementation could be improved and our results are embodied in the document which by then the press will have seen. And then I will explain the document, which is largely self-explanatory anyway.

See, if the Minister and the Ambassador had spent one more day together they would just have had a preamble saying “the two parties reaffirm the following Agreement.” Then we could just publish the text of the January Agreement. Then I will say in conclusion that obviously the implementation of the Agreement left something to be desired last time, but we are proceeding from the assumption . . .

[Page 1654]

Le Duc Tho: But it is the implementation in the past which leaves many points to be desired.

Dr. Kissinger: Many points to be desired. But obviously we would not have signed this communiqué unless all sides were willing to make a serious effort to bring about a substantial improvement in the situation. From our side this will create the conditions for a rapid normalization of relations between the U.S. and the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, and this normalization is one of the prime objectives of our foreign policy. So we are looking to this, not just as a means of ending the war, but of beginning to build a lasting peace and a move towards the ultimate friendship between North Vietnam and the United States.

It is in this spirit that I will speak. This is just for your information, Mr. Special Adviser. I may even bring myself to make a friendly remark about my old adversary and colleague, to lay the basis for his tour through the United States. All right. So this is tomorrow. Is that generally agreeable, Mr. Special Adviser?

Le Duc Tho: I agree.

Dr. Kissinger: We will probably hold the press conference [aside to Mr. Ziegler] when, Ron? 4:00 or 4:30?

Mr. Ziegler: 4:00 or 4:30; whenever you are ready.

Dr. Kissinger: 4 o’clock, probably right after the release.

Le Duc Tho: So please hold your press conference first, and I will follow you. [Laughter]

Dr. Kissinger: I may want another one on Friday!

Le Duc Tho: You don’t leave much time for me. You will hold two press conferences.

Dr. Kissinger: It depends on what you say. [Laughter]

Le Duc Tho: Well, then I will have to hold another press conference, and if you have a third one, I will have a third one.

Dr. Kissinger: So on Friday could we have the four-parties signing at 12 o’clock rather than 11 o’clock? The reason is I would like to see the French Foreign Minister Friday morning.

Le Duc Tho: I agree.

Dr. Kissinger: And then the two party at 4 o’clock—1600 or 1530, whichever you prefer.

Le Duc Tho: 1530.

Dr. Kissinger: All right. You have a plane to catch that evening?

Le Duc Tho: Not yet; I will not leave yet.

Dr. Kissinger: I don’t know whether I can face another visit by a North Vietnamese delegation in Peking. It takes me six months to undo [Page 1655] the damage. [Laughter] Would you consider returning via New Delhi? [Laughter] This takes care, then, of our procedures.

Le Duc Tho: Mr. Adviser, I should reiterate that the four parties should meet tomorrow just with the content as I have suggested, but there will be no initialing tomorrow.

Dr. Kissinger: I understand that. But you have not survived for 2,000 years under foreign pressure by being easy to deal with. While I can promise you no initialing I cannot promise you everything will go as planned. But we will make every effort to do it. I agree, there will be no new debate about the content, and I think the Special Adviser and I should assume the responsibility to keep passions—to moderate the passions, because our two South Vietnamese friends will be so moved by the prospect of seeing each other that they may get carried away into eloquence.

Le Duc Tho: The two South Vietnamese parties have been meeting each other for the last couple of months.

Dr. Kissinger: But they rarely have an audience.

Le Duc Tho: But all of them certainly will remain deaf.

Dr. Kissinger: They have taken special safeguards by not distributing copies of the Agreement to either delegation. All right. So that leaves only one topic for us to discuss which is, however, very vital. And I propose that before we turn to it, we take a little break. Do you agree?

Le Duc Tho: I agree. So what problems are left now?

Dr. Kissinger: According to me, the problem of Cambodia.

Le Duc Tho: Anything else, Mr. Adviser?

Dr. Kissinger: No. I see the Special Adviser has a long speech prepared.

Le Duc Tho: I am always prepared to give a speech. Will you discuss the question of the ICCS, the replacement?

Dr. Kissinger: Japan? [Laughter]

Le Duc Tho: I refused it when you proposed Japan.

Dr. Kissinger: Yes, we can have a discussion of that after the break.

Le Duc Tho: Shall we discuss also the normalization of our relationship?

Dr. Kissinger: I think that would be good. I think that would be very important. I think that is a very good topic.

[The meeting broke at Noon. A private conversation began between Le Duc Tho and Dr. Kissinger at 12:30 p.m. Mr. Thompson took notes. The first few minutes were not recorded, but concerned Soviet policy. The private conversation proceeded along the following lines:]

Dr. Kissinger: In any case we must settle matters between us. I did not ask the Soviets to help. They asked us our position on Cambodia [Page 1656] only because they wanted to know before Brezhnev’s visit to the U.S. I know the DRV settles its own problems.

Le Duc Tho: Our problem is the same for Laos and Cambodia. They must settle their matters themselves. Concerning Laos, on some points, mainly ceasefire and prisoners, we can have a discussion with our Laotian friends. But on other matters we respect their sovereignty and they may agree with our views or not if they wish.

Dr. Kissinger: I understand, but I think both of us have possibilities to use our influence.

Le Duc Tho: The Cambodian problem is different. I can show you Sihanouk’s message to me. It is very harsh. It is a matter not only of Sihanouk’s forces, but of the resistance forces.

Dr. Kissinger: But Sihanouk had no reason to send you a harsh message.

Le Duc Tho: It is not only Sihanouk, but also the resistance forces. If you like I will show you the message. [Tho hands a message from Sihanouk to Dr. Kissinger, who reads it.]

Dr. Kissinger: It is not often a Prince calls a Politburo member “Dear Brother.” Can I have my assistant make some notes?

Le Duc Tho: Yes, but please keep this matter to yourself.

Dr. Kissinger: Of course.

[The letter was along the following lines: “As you know, the U.S. imperialism is carrying on against the Cambodian people, FUNK and GRUNK, a frenzied psychological streak aimed at making the world believe that the U.S. and DRV are going to reach agreement to stop the war in Cambodia in the near future. I pray Your Excellency to tell the press that the DRV has no responsibility with regard to GRUNK and FUNK and respects Cambodian sovereignty.”]

Le Duc Tho: If the Cambodian problem were similar to the Laotian problem I would have settled it with you before signing the Paris Agreement.

Dr. Kissinger: Nevertheless the people in Cambodia have leaders inside Cambodia with whom you have great influence.

Le Duc Tho: Not much. They are independent. I know that very well. Moreover, I must respect their sovereignty.

Dr. Kissinger: I have seen you when you felt the problem had to be solved and I am sure there is some ingenuity there.

Le Duc Tho: But you misunderstood. Matters I am able to solve, I solve quickly with you. But questions I do not have the capability of solving I cannot solve with you. Throughout our negotiations, you have seen that we solve questions rapidly when that is possible.

[Page 1657]

Dr. Kissinger: Yes, for four years. At a press conference I once said that the Special Adviser can break your heart when he does not want to move but he is very ingenious when he wants to move.

Le Duc Tho: I remember that press conference. You are correct.

Dr. Kissinger: For four years you told me this, but I saw no proof of it until last October.

Le Duc Tho: It began as early as July and August.

Dr. Kissinger: That is right. I was convinced you were ready to settle, but my colleagues weren’t. They thought when I went to the October 8 meeting that you would break off, but I thought you wanted to settle. You have moved systematically. It took nerves to wait until the last minute. But we also needed good nerves to wait until the last minute.

Le Duc Tho: You also are tenacious.

Dr. Kissinger: What would you have done October 8 if I had said I needed two weeks to study your proposal?

Le Duc Tho: I would have accepted it. It would have been normal.

Dr. Kissinger: Were you surprised that I went ahead to negotiate immediately?

Le Duc Tho: No, because it was the right moment for negotiation and a settlement. A delay would have been useless. A negotiator should realize when the opportune moment arrives.

Dr. Kissinger: I agree. Frankly, concerning Cambodia, we have enough experience to know that an agreement is not decisive if people are not ready to carry it out. But for us to have this discussion without any progress on Cambodia and implementation of Article 20 is nearly impossible, and it would really be impossible for us, whatever we agree to, to move toward implementation of Article 21 with Congressional support. I am not setting conditions; I am stating reality.

Le Duc Tho: As I have said, your approach to the Cambodian questions as reflected in the document you gave us is impossible. You would create difficulties for us with regard to normalization of relations and economic relations for something which is beyond our capabilities. Ambassador Sullivan told Mr. Thach yesterday that you could not sign the joint communiqué unless we settled the Cambodian problem. But even in such a situation, even if the joint communiqué can’t be initialed, we nevertheless cannot settle the Cambodian problem as you suggest. I don’t want to repeat here the causes of the coup in Cambodia and the outbreak of war there. The Cambodian people are rising up and struggling for freedom, exercising their sovereignty, and we will respect their independence. We cannot settle this problem on their behalf.

Dr. Kissinger: We are not asking you to settle the problem in their place. We are just asking for the beginning of negotiations.

[Page 1658]

Le Duc Tho: But if they refuse to negotiate, how can we oblige them to begin? The message from Sihanouk is something I have never received in the past. How can I do anything in these conditions? Suppose you and I agree, how can I carry it out? But even to say this—but I only say this hypothetically because we have no right to solve the Cambodian problem in their place. To settle the Cambodian problem you should have discussions with Sihanouk or with other resistance leaders, and they will agree to do this. Otherwise, there is no solution. Sihanouk has a legal and legitimate position, different from the situation in Laos.

Dr. Kissinger: But the last time I told you that the health of Lon Nol is not good and he may have to leave the country for medical treatment, and if we were able to reach a proper understanding with you we would facilitiate this departure. And under those conditions we would be prepared to authorize contacts between our people and Sihanouk, perhaps in Peking. And if it is an attempt to push us against the wall, we will not accept this. We have had experience of this in the past four years. We are willing to take account of realities, but any solution must be consistent with our dignity.

Le Duc Tho: I understand. Concerning the Laotian and Cambodian questions, the logical process would be for the parties to agree, then there would be a ceasefire, and then a time period would be fixed for troop withdrawal. But you put the matter backwards; you put the ceasefire first. But we have no right to interfere because the resistance forces have their sovereignty. When there is peace in Cambodia, the U.S. and the DRV will carry out Article 20. I know you have difficulties. We have no intention of driving you to the wall but frankly you have not understood our difficulties.

Dr. Kissinger: And you have not understood ours. I understand you have difficulties.

Le Duc Tho: I understand yours. You have seen with regard to the Vietnam question that we have settled many questions discreetly and appropriately with no intention of driving you into a corner, and you must have no intention of driving us into a corner.

Dr. Kissinger: I agree, and so I wonder if you have a counter-proposal if you don’t like our proposal.

Le Duc Tho: Your two principal points are immediate ceasefire and a time period for troop withdrawal.

Dr. Kissinger: And not negotiations.

Le Duc Tho: But only the two points I mentioned are in the document you gave us. Aside from those two points everything is possible. But those two points infringe Cambodian sovereignty.

Dr. Kissinger: You mean everything is possible except what I have proposed?

[Page 1659]

Le Duc Tho: In the paper you propose that the two Cambodian parties determine a ceasefire, and that the U.S. and the DRV stop their activities.

Dr. Kissinger: Do you agree to that?

Le Duc Tho: Yes, but everything would be stopped at the same time we want you to stop your activities.

Dr. Kissinger: You would agree to that?

Le Duc Tho: Yes.

Dr. Kissinger: That would be a sign of our good will. Can you accept that without a Politburo meeting?

Le Duc Tho: If you stop the bombing that’s a good thing.

Dr. Kissinger: Then what would happen?

Le Duc Tho: I don’t know. That is a question which relates to Cambodian sovereignty. But I don’t think you will unilaterally stop your activities. Aside from what I have said, we have no problems with the other points in your paper.

Dr. Kissinger: What points are those?

Le Duc Tho: It is a question of respect for the principles of the 1954 Geneva Agreement and the fundamental rights of the Cambodian people.

Dr. Kissinger: These are already in Article 20 of the Agreement.

Le Duc Tho: I agree with your point concerning respect for the sovereignty of Cambodia. I agree that the two sides must implement Article 20 of the Agreement and I agree with the last sentence in your document, although it would need to be rewritten. So that is progress.

Dr. Kissinger: If you keep making concessions like that, they won’t let you return to Hanoi.

Le Duc Tho: If that happens what will you do?

Dr. Kissinger: I will get you a job on the Harvard faculty teaching revolutionary theory, and how to wear down Americans. How would you rewrite the last sentence? Our document reads: “The United States of America and the DRV will exert their best efforts to promote the early conclusion of a negotiated political settlement in Cambodia.”

Le Duc Tho: Basically I agree. We need to change the words a bit, to say that “the U.S. and the DRV will endeavor to contribute to bringing about a peaceful solution to the Cambodian problem.”

Dr. Kissinger: Shall we “don doc” the Cambodian parties?

Le Duc Tho: This is our last effort.

Dr. Kissinger: This is no effort.

Le Duc Tho: Previously there was no such sentence.

Dr. Kissinger: Under those conditions I must consult the President.

[Page 1660]

Le Duc Tho: That is up to you. The few sentences I have mentioned to you would need to be rewritten. The rest of your proposal we cannot accept, even if you refuse to normalize relations and to create difficulties on the economic question, because we have no capability to settle this problem. Remember our discussions on Laos; I was authorized by our allies in Laos and the matter was settled quickly. The situation is now different. Today is our last day of meeting, so I will be glad to settle anything I have the capability of settling.

Dr. Kissinger: We may need another day. I will need to consult the President.

Le Duc Tho: That is up to you. If you exchange views with the President, I repeat that, aside from what I have already stated, we cannot settle anything else. And if we are unable to settle the Cambodian question and if because of this we cannot settle other questions, then we must simply shake hands and leave. I have expressed all my views. I have no intention of driving you into a corner but I am not capable of satisfying your desires.

Dr. Kissinger: It would be contrary to your nature.

Le Duc Tho: No, in negotiations when we want to settle we shall do so and not try to drive each other into a corner. We adopted that position in negotiating the Paris Agreement. For example, last December if the B–52s had continued their bombing I would never have come to Paris and the fighting would have gone on endlessly. In negotiations we must judge the exact level and then check a solution. You said I was trying to drive you into a corner. On the contrary, on Cambodia you are trying to drive me into a corner.

Dr. Kissinger: I want to see what influence you have on your three students.

Le Duc Tho: They are not students, but sovereign and independent allies. It is different.

Dr. Kissinger: I know it is different, but I also know these three gentlemen—I can never remember their names—were described by Sihanouk as complete disciples of Hanoi when they were opponents of his.

Le Duc Tho: I also don’t know their names.

Dr. Kissinger: Shall I give them to you in case you meet them on the Ho Chi Minh Trail? After we have paved it?

Le Duc Tho: But after it has been paved, there will be no problem. We probably will have to go together; otherwise, you would claim I was violating the Agreement. Although I am a civilian and can move freely.

Dr. Kissinger: You can ride an elephant. Let me understand your views clearly so that I can repeat them to the President. As I understand, of our six points you can accept only point #6.

[Page 1661]

Le Duc Tho: We can accept the previous sentence also. Let me show you a draft. The last sentence of our draft would read as follows: “The DRV and the U.S. will endeavor to contribute to bringing about a peaceful solution to the Cambodian problem.” Thus, you can see that we are making an effort in that direction, but that the sovereignty of Cambodia is respected. Therefore, there must be the first sentence.

Dr. Kissinger: But it is . . .

Le Duc Tho: [Reads] “1. On the basis of respect for the principles of the 1954 Geneva Agreement on Cambodia that recognizes the Cambodian people’s national fundamental rights, i.e. the independence, sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of Cambodia, the Democratic Republic of Viet Nam and the United States reaffirm that the settlement of the Cambodian problem falls under the sovereignty of the Cambodians.

“2. The Democratic Republic of Viet Nam and the United States reaffirm the obligations under Article 20 of the Paris Agreement. All foreign troops, advisers and military personnel shall be withdrawn from Cambodia.

“3. The Democratic Republic of Viet Nam and the United States will endeavor to contribute to bringing about a peaceful solution to the Cambodian problem.”

As for the questions of a ceasefire and a time period for troop withdrawal, these are against the sovereignty of Cambodia.

Dr. Kissinger: But so is the presence of 30,000 North Vietnamese troops.

Le Duc Tho: If we discuss this question it will take a long time, because we would have to return to the origins and causes of the war, but I don’t think you want to listen to that.

Dr. Kissinger: I am not unwilling, but I have heard it many times. The first time I met you you gave me a one-hour lesson that I have never forgotten.

Le Duc Tho: I have studied your draft, and therefore accept these three points but leave out the other two points. This is my last effort. We have been discussing these matters for four weeks; I have been here many days, and now we should have agreement. I have made the greatest possible effort.

Dr. Kissinger: But it is no special effort because it only repeats the points made last October.

Le Duc Tho: But the last sentence was not in the previous understanding.

Dr. Kissinger: But it was included as a unilateral statement.

Le Duc Tho: The two sides made it.

[Page 1662]

Dr. Kissinger: You will probably tell Sihanouk that you extracted a great concession from us.

Le Duc Tho: That is not true. It is a private understanding. If Prince Sihanouk or the Cambodian resistance members know about it they will be discontented. It is a private understanding that both sides will make an effort; anything more is against Cambodian sovereignty.

Dr. Kissinger: Whatever you do, Sihanouk will change his position in two years, since he changes sides every five years. Concretely, what will you do if we reach this understanding?

Le Duc Tho: I am not sure, but we will make efforts to contribute our views to our allies. But whether our views will be listened to or not, I don’t know.

Dr. Kissinger: But you have 30,000 troops in Cambodia, which gives weight to your views.

Le Duc Tho: That is not true.

Dr. Kissinger: How many troops do you have?

Le Duc Tho: Almost all the fighting is done by Cambodians. Even your intelligence reports say so.

Dr. Kissinger: “Almost all” is not all. That makes a qualitative difference.

Le Duc Tho: All of the fighting. The other day I told you you should make an accurate evaluation.

Dr. Kissinger: We have. As a fact we can’t go to Congress on aid while North Vietnamese troops are in Cambodia. This is a reality, not a condition.

Le Duc Tho: First, regarding the economic question, you earlier said there would be no political conditions. Now you are speaking contrary to this promise.

Dr. Kissinger: I am speaking of an historical process.

Le Duc Tho: No, you are speaking against what you said before. Second, the economic question is in our mutual interest. It will help the normalization of relations between our two countries.

Dr. Kissinger: I am just telling what the realities are. We are having a massive problem right now getting aid for countries in which we have not been at war. I am not talking about Vietnam.

Le Duc Tho: The economic question is in our mutual interest and it is also the implementation of the Agreement. So those are the points you should pay attention to, but even you can create difficulties for the economic question. But if you expect me to solve the question of Cambodia in accordance with your desires, it goes beyond my power.

Dr. Kissinger: We have two problems. One is in accordance with this paper. Number 2, I must report to the President and then must [Page 1663] see if we make enough progress in the next few weeks to overcome the difficulties.

Le Duc Tho: Your reporting our communication, it is your affair. I have my people too.

Dr. Kissinger: But you can give me your opinion.

Le Duc Tho: My views I have expressed.

Dr. Kissinger: And what are your views as to the consequences if we agree to the understanding? Is it your personal judgment that in the next week we can make progress to remove some of the difficulties?

Le Duc Tho: You will make your own effort and we will make ours, but as to the time period of two weeks, I cannot say, because that is a matter regarding Cambodian decision and sovereignty.

Dr. Kissinger: Four weeks?

Le Duc Tho: I can make no estimate. The decision is in their hands, not in mine. There lies the difficulty. Today I have told you everything I have in mind. It is my last effort. Even if because of the Cambodian question you will not carry out what you have agreed to, it will still be impossible for me to settle that problem.

Dr. Kissinger: Perhaps we can take a break. I will consult with my colleagues and then we can discuss normalization.

Le Duc Tho: It is 1:30. Shall we have lunch now?

Dr. Kissinger: Yes.

Le Duc Tho: You must understand I have said all I can and made an effort.

Dr. Kissinger: Not much effort.

Le Duc Tho: A great effort.

Dr. Kissinger: I think you can visit liberated areas without getting shot.

[The private conversation ended at 1:30 p.m. The group then lunched together in the side room.]

[The formal meeting resumed at 3:17 p.m.]

Dr. Kissinger: Mr. Special Adviser, have you read all the notes you have here?

Le Duc Tho: I have read them all.

Dr. Kissinger: I think we should have, if the Special Adviser agrees, some discussion on normalization. And also I would like to propose the following: I have some additional thoughts on Cambodia which I want to put to the Special Adviser, which will, however, require my consulting also with Washington, and I therefore propose that we delay the schedule we discussed this morning by 24 hours and that we meet tomorrow at our place—at the golf course. And that then on Friday we meet at Avenue Kleber and then on Saturday we have the signing.

[Page 1664]

Le Duc Tho: In brief, a 24-hour delay.

Dr. Kissinger: Yes, 24-hour delay to permit me to consult with Washington.

Le Duc Tho: I agree. As to the specific timing, then we will maintain what has been agreed.

Dr. Kissinger: We maintain all the specific times that have been agreed upon. The only problem is I probably have now made an appointment with the French Foreign Minister for 10 o’clock on Friday. If I cannot change that, I may propose that the 4-party meeting be moved to 12:00 rather than 11:00 and then everything in the schedule will slip one hour. But we can call you tonight and let you know definitely. I will endeavor—I will try to keep it at 11 o’clock. I will try to see if I can change the appointment with the French Foreign Minister. Incidentally, that does not concern our negotiations. That meeting grows out of the conversation between President Pompidou and President Nixon in Iceland.

Le Duc Tho: What time shall we meet again tomorrow?

Dr. Kissinger: 10:30–11:00, whichever you prefer.

Le Duc Tho: 10:30.

Dr. Kissinger: 10:30, all right. What should we discuss first?

Le Duc Tho: It is up to you, Mr. Special Adviser.

Dr. Kissinger: Why don’t we talk a little bit about normalization, and then go back to Cambodia?

Le Duc Tho: All right.

Dr. Kissinger: What is your thinking, Mr. Special Adviser?

Le Duc Tho: I have expounded my views preliminarily to you the other day. What are your views, Mr. Adviser?

Dr. Kissinger: Our views are that after the implementation of the Agreement is advanced, including the withdrawal of foreign troops from Laos and Cambodia, the conditions will exist for a rapid normalization of relations between the United States and the DRV. I think at that point we can begin establishing offices in each other’s capitals. Now we have found the institution of the liaison office to be a very flexible device. In the case of the Chinese it permitted representation at the Ambassadorial level. But we are prepared also to consider the establishment of regular diplomatic missions, which would initially be headed by chargés d’affaires. Of course, a liaison office would also have full diplomatic privileges. And then in either case we would envisage the establishment of full diplomatic relations within as rapid a period as the improvement of our relations would warrant.

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

Dr. Kissinger: Yes, I have.

[Page 1665]

Le Duc Tho: Since we peacefully settled the Vietnam problem, the normalization of relations between our two countries, the gradual normalization, has been the objective of our government, which I have often mentioned to you, Mr. Adviser. But as you just said the other day, that the normalization of relations should be based on the scrupulous implementation of the Paris Agreement. As I told you the other day, the conditions for the normalization of the relationships is the scrupulous implementation of the Agreement.

But I would like to point out the following points: Regarding North Vietnam, you should completely and without time limit end all activities of aerial reconnaissance over North Vietnam. And then the conclusion of the five-year agreement on economic questions and the first year economic agreement, and the beginning of the implementation of these agreements. And then the mine clearing operations should be completed.

Dr. Kissinger: Is the Special Adviser bringing pressure on his old colleague here, contrary to the mood we have established over these many years?

Le Duc Tho: [Laughs] No, it is not pressure at all, because these are conditions created for the normalization of our relationship. And then in South Vietnam there should be a complete ceasefire and the situation should be stablized as provided for by the Agreement. These are the few points on which a good strict implementation will create the conditions for the normalization of relations between our two countries.

Now you put another condition, that is, the withdrawal of troops from Laos and Cambodia. We will abide by Article 20 of the Paris Agreement that we have agreed upon. Regarding the troop withdrawal in Laos, we have already the Agreement and there have been provisions on that question of troop withdrawal. But regarding the question of withdrawal of foreign troops from Cambodia, there has not been a fixed date for that. And if you approach the problem as you are doing now, you will prolong the time period before we can normalize the relationship between our two countries.

Dr. Kissinger: But not after the Special Adviser has exerted his best efforts in Cambodia with his students to bring about an early political settlement.

Le Duc Tho: So I have raised a number of questions which would pave the way to the normalization of relationships between our two countries. As to the office to be established, after those conditions are met, I think that this office should be established, but as to the name of the office, I think it should be called an “office in charge of the relationship between the U.S. and the DRV,” or it can be called the “representation of the DRV” or the “permanent delegation of the DRV.” But not the liaison office. And this mission will be provided all the [Page 1666] diplomatic immunities and privileges as you say. And thereafter we can establish diplomatic relations, and the sooner the better.

The task of this office is to look after the relationship between our two countries; for instance, the implementation of the Agreement, the economic reconstruction of the North Vietnam, the healing of the war wounds.

Dr. Kissinger: And the withdrawal of foreign troops from Laos and Cambodia.

Le Duc Tho: [Laughs] And the normalization of relationships in other fields of mutual interest to both countries. When this mission, this representation, has been established, then the contacts, the liaisons between us will no longer be in Paris, but through this office. What do you think?

Dr. Kissinger: I agree.

Le Duc Tho: But before this representation is established then the liaison between you and I is always in Paris. Such are my views regarding the normalization of relationships.

Dr. Kissinger: First, Mr. Special Adviser, with respect to the specific conditions which you put. It is, of course, clear that a strict implementation of the Agreement by both sides will create the most favorable conditions for the normalization of relations by both sides, and this is especially true with respect to those provisions of the Agreement that are within the direct control of our two governments. Those matters that our two governments can do as the actions of our two governments and don’t require the approval of other parties is what I mean. So there is no specific need to enumerate them, and we will both know when that moment has arrived. With respect . . .

Le Duc Tho: It is not yet clear to me, Mr. Adviser, it is not concrete enough.

Dr. Kissinger: Not concrete enough. What I mean is, those provisions of the Agreement such as Article 21 which is in our control to some extent, such as Article 20 which is in your control to some extent, such as some of the other provisions which you mentioned, which are particularly important for our two parties to observe. All provisions of the Agreement must be strictly implemented. And when that moment has been reached and both sides believe that the normalization can advance to another stage, then we should establish the offices which we discussed.

I would only add that in addition to the strict implementation of the Agreement, both sides should set it as their objective to look for opportunities to improve relations among each other by whatever means are available.

As to the name of the office, I agree that one of the three formulations you gave us will almost certainly be acceptable to us. Maybe [Page 1667] “Permanent Delegation” or something of that kind. But the major point is that the concept is acceptable to us. We can exchange views about the precise name at an appropriate time. We agree that it should have some other title than “liaison office.” Of course, if the Special Adviser’s trip to the U.S. should materialize, we could conceivably announce this at the end of his trip as one of the results. Or we could do it before. This is unimportant. We can do it almost any time that the two sides have agreed that the conditions are right. What is the Special Adviser’s idea about the correct timing?

Le Duc Tho: To my mind, after the scrupulous implementation of the few points I have just raised, this is the basis for the normalization of relations between our two countries, and then we proceed to the establishment of the delegation for permanent relations as I have just referred to; and after the establishment of such delegation, then I will visit the U.S.

Dr. Kissinger: After the establishment of the permanent delegation.

Le Duc Tho: Yes. It will be more convenient.

Dr. Kissinger: May I make just one suggestion? You will not appoint Mr. Loi as the Permanent Delegate? We will accept him, of course. So it is the Special Adviser’s idea that if we make progress on these points, the permanent delegation should be established sometime during the summer—I am just trying to get an idea—and then he would then come sometime in the fall.

Le Duc Tho: If we adequately implement the points as you said, then we can carry it out.

Dr. Kissinger: We don’t have to set a deadline. The key thought—the sequence will be that we will first establish a permanent delegation and after that we will have the visit of the Special Adviser.

Le Duc Tho: I agree.

Dr. Kissinger: If you come in the winter you can all go skiing. [Laughter] I know it is a famous Vietnamese sport.

Le Duc Tho: But I am very weak at bearing cold.

Dr. Kissinger: Now let me make one—have we finished about the normalization of relations?

Le Duc Tho: Roughly speaking, it is all right. Now, and when conditions are appropriate for the establishment of such relations, then you and I will exchange messages.

Dr. Kissinger: Let me raise one point about the work of the Joint Economic Commission. As I have tried to explain to the Special Adviser and the Prime Minister, with perhaps not total success, we have a massive Congressional problem in obtaining aid for North Vietnam, and as is daily demonstrated on TV, the Congress is not under total [Page 1668] control of the Executive Branch in the United States. Therefore it is in our mutual interest to cooperate to bring about the best results.

I am not talking now about the political matters which I had mentioned previously.

I have one concrete issue in mind. I would like to recommend that it would be extremely helpful if at some point Mr. Williams and one or two of his colleagues could visit Hanoi, because after that they would be able to speak with much more authority when they present the program to the Congress on the needs. So, for example, some of the matters of the Joint Economic Commission could be held in Hanoi. It would lend much greater weight to the testimony that they will have to give. Mr. Williams can discuss that with his opposite number when they meet.

Le Duc Tho: All right. Mr. Adviser, now let me speak a few words regarding the economic questions.

Dr. Kissinger: He’ll do anything except discuss Cambodia.

Le Duc Tho: So you are putting conditions to me!

Dr. Kissinger: Go ahead.

Le Duc Tho: You and I, we have discussed these economic questions very lengthily before we signed the Agreement and during your visit to Hanoi. This question is not only coming under your responsibility but also is in our mutual interests of the two countries with normalization of the relationship. It is also your objective and our objective. And this question has been debated a great deal by the Joint Economic Commission. They have obtained certain progress. Please let me speak a few words about the projects. The other day you asked me about the projects. Now let me express my views on that.

Dr. Kissinger: Sullivan says you cannot have the atomic energy plant the first year.

Le Duc Tho: The capability of reception is not up to such level! First, regarding the amount of money you will contribute to this question. You have mentioned about the juridical difficulty in getting this money and we have discussed this question too on many occasions, and the Joint Economic Commission has also debated on that question on many occasions too. But the amount of money has been mentioned in the message of President Nixon to us. So the amount of money given to us for the first two years should be bigger than the amount of money given to us in the two following years. There has been agreement in the Joint Economic Commission on the amount of money given for the second year, but they have not agreed on the amount given for the first year. Because our need is urgent and special to a very extensive area. This is for the amount of money.

Now about the projects. I will tell you now the projects we would like to have. Now the establishments that the U.S. have destroyed in [Page 1669] the past, we propose reconstruction, but the U.S. side has not accepted a number of them; for instance, the steel complex, the textiles complex, the sea-going ships factory.

Dr. Kissinger: Are there any others?

Le Duc Tho: This is for our civilian tranport.

Minister Thach: Not a convoy!

Le Duc Tho: It is the first category of projects.

The second category of projects are those which we would have built up without the war if there had not been the war. This is engineering factories, to build trucks and tractors. Second, petrol refinery and petroleum chemistry and then a factory for diesel motors and electric locomotives, diesel for steamships and railways.

Dr. Kissinger: You want diesel engines for steamships?

Le Duc Tho: For ships and railway locomotives. And then the equipment, the material for construction work after the war. That the U.S. side has not accepted too. This is equipment for the building of railways and steel sheet. So we have proposed some dozens of factories to be built while we have had hundreds of them destroyed, 300 of them destroyed during the war; we propose 30 or 40 factories to be built while we have had over 300 factories destroyed.

Now another question regarding the adjustment of the contribution because of the devaluation of the dollar. Please pay attention to that. As to the liquid money to buy goods from other countries, I propose that the market should be extended, because if you restrict to buy goods in Asia except Japan and the other socialistic countries, then the other countries have nothing to buy from.

As to the form of document to be signed, I propose that if we can come to an agreement then we should sign an economic agreement. It will be signed by authorized representatives of the two sides.

As to your proposal that some sessions, some meetings should be held in Hanoi, I think it agreeable.

Dr. Kissinger: You do or you do not think it is agreeable?

Le Duc Tho: I do think it is agreeable.

Dr. Kissinger: Yes.

Le Duc Tho: After we sign the Joint Communiqué, the Joint Economic Commission can meet immediately in Hanoi. There is no need to come to Paris.

Dr. Kissinger: That is probably a good idea. I will check immediately and let you know.

Le Duc Tho: These are the points I would like to raise to draw your attention to. As to the details, the concrete specific points, we will leave it to the Joint Economic Commission. During your visit to Hanoi [Page 1670] we have presented a larger scale economic program, and it is a long-term program in the long-term relationship between the people of our two countries and also in the interest of lasting peace based on the strict implementation of the Agreement that I speak of.

I have finished.

Dr. Kissinger: Mr. Special Adviser, we will take careful note of the particular projects which you mentioned. I will discuss them personally with Mr. Williams. I myself am not competent to give an answer with respect to the individual projects, but I promise you a careful consideration and a detailed answer when the Economic Commission meets.

With respect to the problem of devaluation, this affects primarily the amount of liquid capital that is available for purchases outside the United States. It does not affect purchases within the U.S.

Le Duc Tho: Please pay attention to it.

Dr. Kissinger: We will pay attention to you, but you must understand the whole project will be extremely difficult in our country. As for the meeting in Hanoi, I would like to consult my colleagues. There is a case to be made—we will have difficulty with communications with Hanoi and therefore, there is a case to be made for perhaps a first meeting in Paris, and then perhaps, once the basic framework is established, then to go to Hanoi. I will give you our proposal before we leave here. But in principle it is a constructive step to have some meetings in Hanoi.

Now may I return to Cambodia?

Le Duc Tho: First possibility is we will discuss it now. The second possibility is that we discuss it tomorrow, since we have another day tomorrow.

Dr. Kissinger: Let me talk to Sullivan for one minute. I could make a preliminary comment and then we could continue it tomorrow.

[Dr. Kissinger leaves the room briefly to talk to Ambassador Sullivan, then returns.]

I think Mr. Special Adviser, perhaps you are right, that the best procedure is that we leave Cambodia until tomorrow. Let me make this general comment. I understand very clearly what you have said to me when we were sitting over there, and I will report it fully to the President. I will take it very seriously into account and I will seek to obtain the President’s agreement to come as far as possible towards your position. At the same time I would appreciate it if the Special Adviser could overnight give some serious thought to our problem. [Tho laughs.] Well, there is no sense having a discussion tomorrow if you tell me right away you can’t give consideration to our problem, and especially in the general concern with the problem of ceasefire.

[Page 1671]

Now, I repeat, I have understood what the Special Adviser has said to me. We will make a very big effort to move towards your position and to take it very seriously into account. Then I am sure that if the Special Adviser thinks about it and does not consult the Minister, there is a possibility that something might occur.

Le Duc Tho: I can say that I have expressed all my views to you, Mr. Adviser, and I think my mind has been working very hard since I met you, and I have tried a great deal to find out the formula I have expressed to you. It is a very great effort. And we will discuss this question tomorrow. I think I can tell you straightforwardly that I can’t add any word to what I have told you.

Dr. Kissinger: I must say I like the Special Adviser’s negotiating method. When we raise the subject now, he says we can discuss it tomorrow. When I raise the question for tomorrow, he says there is nothing to discuss. Maybe we should not meet tomorrow.

Le Duc Tho: [Laughs] I just make it better for you in accepting for you to discuss the matter tomorrow. But I should frankly tell you that I cannot add anything to what I have told you. I cannot say otherwise, because it would be tantamount to a lie to you, because I have nothing to add. Because, Mr. Adviser, you say that you have to consult with the President and wait for a 24-hour delay. I have followed your views; that is the reason why I accepted. So, frankly speaking, even tomorrow I have nothing to add to what I have said. I would not want to lie to you.

Dr. Kissinger: I will have to consult with the President and I will have to convey to you his thoughts tomorrow. And then it is up to you to decide where we stand. I will convey very faithfully what you have just said, and then it is up to you to decide how we proceed after we have his reply. Maybe he will be so impressed by your best efforts to bring peace that he thinks this means there will be peace before the 15th and he will blame me for not accepting your original proposal.

So we shall study what you have said, and you will either study or not study what we have said.

Le Duc Tho: I have studied all your statements.

Dr. Kissinger: As an acquaintance of mine is in the habit of saying, it is up to you! We will communicate our conclusions to you tomorrow, and then we shall see where we are and then we can decide how to proceed. There is no sense making the speeches today that we can easily make tomorrow.

So, at 10:30 at St. Nom.

Le Duc Tho: Yes.

Dr. Kissinger: Are you going to keep your porte-parole under control? [Laughter] Shall we decide to simply say both sides will meet at 10:30 at St. Nom? No characterization of the meeting?

[Page 1672]

Le Duc Tho: I agree.

Dr. Kissinger: Does the Minister agree also? The Colonel too?

Le Duc Tho: I have good experience taught me that sometimes we must proceed and the schedule cannot be met. Therefore, yesterday I attended a reception given by the PRG on the 4th anniversary of the founding of the PRG. It was attended by an American journalist: he asked me about the prospective results of the coming series of meetings: Will it be concluded or will it be prolonged? I answer that it might be concluded, but it might be prolonged. It might be short; it might be long. [Laughter]

Dr. Kissinger: You are going to be right no matter what happens.

Le Duc Tho: Because I have got experience now.

Dr. Kissinger: But I am going to fool you one day. I am going to keep a schedule and throw all your military plans into confusion.

Le Duc Tho: All right.

Dr. Kissinger: All right. We meet tomorrow.

[The meeting concluded.]

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 124, Country Files, Far East, Vietnam Negotiations, Camp David Memcons, Joint Communique May–June 1973 [3 of 3]. Top Secret; Sensitive; Exclusively Eyes Only. The meeting took place at 108 Avenue du Général Leclerc in Gif-sur-Yvette. All brackets are in the original.