The following is the full text of a report to Senator J. W. Fulbright on my conversations with the North Vietnamese ambassador in Paris, Xuan Thuy. A small part of this letter was made public by Senator Fulbright on November 19.
Mr. Ronald Ziegler of the White House then stated that my efforts to seek a basis for negotiation over Vietnam took place on my own initiative, and this is certainly true. Xuan Thuy has since confirmed the substance of the proposals I report here in an interview carried in The New York Times of November 24th, while also making clear that my role was entirely independent of the North Vietnamese side.
It was alleged by Mr. Ziegler that there was nothing new in Hanoi’s offer to negotiate. The Administration, however, has now been placed on notice by the Xuan Thuy interview that—the North Vietnamese do wish to negotiate and this memorandum discloses that such has been the case since early September. The problem, of course, is that what our Government wishes to talk about does not correspond to the vital interests of the North Vietnamese as they see them; and what they wish to talk about affects our continuing commitment to the Saigon government.
November 6, 1969
Senator J. W. Fulbright,
Committee on Foreign Relations
The United States Senate
Washington, D. C. 20510.
Dear Senator Fulbright:
I hereby submit to you as full an account as I can give of the proposals made by Xuan Thuy, the North Vietnamese ambassador to the Paris talks, to Dr. Henry Kissinger, the special adviser to the President.
I am responding to your request of October 28, 1969 which came in answer to my own letter of October 15, including enclosures of several clippings, one from the N.Y. Times and another from the N.Y. Post which had elements of this episode. Forgive me for having delayed this submission, since like everyone else I was awaiting President Nixon’s policy address of Tuesday last.
I enclose also a copy of the memorandum which was sent to Dr. Kissinger at his request on what I believed to be the situation in Hanoi following Ho Chi Minh’s death; this memorandum, while strictly analytical, also contains in its closing passages something of my own views on the problem of negotiating an end to this war. I should add that the memorandum was acknowledged by Dr. Kissinger, with thanks.
The proposals by Xuan Thuy were made to me on September 1st, at his headquarters in Paris, at Choisy-le-Roi, in the presence of his interpreter and his private secretary both of whom had taken extensive notes of our discussion which lasted for several hours. The proposals were made in the knowledge that I was planning to see Dr. Kissinger within a week; I had made this arrangement following an earlier interview with Dr. Kissinger on August 12th at San Clemente; that interview followed in turn a still earlier discussion with Xuan Thuy which took place in Paris…
This is exclusive content for subscribers only.
Try two months of unlimited access to The New York Review for just $1 a month.
Continue reading this article, and thousands more from our complete 55+ year archive, for the low introductory rate of just $1 a month.