71. Memorandum From William Smyser and William Stearman of the National Security Council Staff to Secretary of State Kissinger, Washington, May 16, 1975.1 2





SUBJECT: WSAG Meeting on Indochina, May 17, 10:00 a.m.

You called this WSAG meeting to discuss tying up loose ends in Indochina. This also represents the first opportunity at an interagency level to set the course of our basic policy in Indochina after the fall of Vietnam and Cambodia, We need to start thinking about where we have residual interests we should preserve or whether we want to pull out completely. The following items you may wish to raise in the meeting in order to make decisions:


In reaction to recent developments in Laos, we have suspended deliveries of military hardware and ammunition but have continued to provide some consummables (POL, food, medical supplies) which provide subsistence for the 50,000 non-Communist soldiers. An abrupt cutoff of these funds, the Embassy believes, could further exacerbate the deteriorating economic situation.

Our economic aid program has continued, and Pathet Lao officials have indicated they want to continue to receive American aid. At the same time they are conducting a campaign against our USAID Mission there. They probably would like to continue receiving our money, but without supervision.

In response to the demonstrations against our compounds in several outlying towns, all official USG personnel have been pulled back to Vientiane, with the exception of three in Savannakhet who were being held captive until May 15. Charles Dean is still held captive by the Pathet Lao. We should not forget him.

The King of Laos will travel to Paris and Moscow in July. It has been suggested that we invite him to Washington to demonstrate our continued interest in Laos. (These questions are covered in more detail in State’s issues paper at Tab B.)

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The following are the policy decisions that need to be taken:

  • — Should military assistance be continued, including consummables for supporting FAR troops?
  • — Should economic assistance be continued?
  • — Should we further reduce the number of official Americans in Laos?
  • — Should an invitation be extended to the King of Laos to visit Washington this summer?
  • — What can be done to effect the release of Charles Dean?

U.S. Position on South Vietnam

Hanoi’s extensive military and political control of South Vietnam has effectively ended its sovereignty. We now have to decide the extent to which we will either oppose or go along with the fiction of a separate South Vietnam. This will, for example, affect our attitude toward PRG participation in international organizations and any relations we might have with the new Saigon administration. In this connection, the main questions are:

  • — Should we push the view that South Vietnam is no longer sovereign?
  • — Should we actively oppose PRG membership in international organizations?
  • — What relations, if any, should we have with the present Saigon regime?
  • — What caretaker arrangements should we make both in Saigon and Washington?

Trade with and Aid to Areas Under Communist Control

We can anticipate continued pressure from the Hill and some private groups for at least humanitarian aid to areas under Communist control in Indochina. Some international organizations which we support financially will be providing such aid. Also some U.S. firms will want to do business with Vietnam and Cambodia. Basically we should decide: [Page 3]

  • — Are we going to oppose the use of any U.S. funds for aid to these areas, even when administered by international organizations, or should we approve the use of at least limited U.S. funds in providing humanitarian aid to Communist-controlled areas?
  • — Should there be restrictions on U.S. trade with Vietnam and Cambodia (also perhaps Laos)? Would we have anything to gain from U.S. trade with these countries?

MIA Problem

The collapse of the GVN complicates further accounting for MIA’s. The Four Party JMT no longer exists, and we no longer have working arrangements for handling this problem. In addition, we are interested in recovering the bodies of the two Marines killed during the evacuation. Based on past experience, one can expect the Communist side to extract concessions (e.g., aid, PRG recognition, etc.) in return for cooperation in respect to MIA’s and the dead Marines. Questions to be resolved are: (Also at Tab C are questions submitted by Defense.)

  • — How can we induce the Communist side to cooperate in MIA accounting and the return of two dead Marines? What will it cost us?
  • — Should we attempt to resurrect the Four Party JMT — even though one part has disappeared? Would the other side go along with this?

CIA Activities

The CIA has been conducting a number of operations in Vietnam and Cambodia. It appears to make little sense to continue those. Bill Colby would probably prefer not to discuss details at a WSAG but would be prepared to deal with the general notion of curtailing of CIA operations.

The CIA working paper at Tab D provides intelligence requirements for Southeast Asia — including Indochina — and lists the facilities available to meet those requirements [text not declassified]

  • — Are there any CIA operations in Vietnam or Cambodia that warrant continuation?
  • — How important is continued intelligence on Indochina?
  • — Should we continue all present intelligence operations (e.g., SR-71 flights over Indochina)? If not, which should be eliminated?

Your talking points are at Tab A.

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Presidential Country Files for East Asia and the Pacific, Box 27, WSAG Meeting, Indochina, May 17, 1975. Secret. A slash appears across the first page of the memorandum; a handwritten note at the top of the page reads: “Meeting Cancelled.” Tab A, Talking Points, undated, attached but not published. For Tab B, see source note, Document 70. Tabs C and D not attached.
  2. Smyser and Stearman prepared this memorandum to guide discussions at a scheduled May 17 WSAG meeting on Indochina; the group did not meet as planned.