Operation Linebacker II
Operation Linebacker II was a US
On 8 October 1972, U.S.
The new terms on the table also included the establishment of a National Council of National Reconciliation and Concord, a loosely defined administrative structure which was to work toward general and local elections within South Vietnam. Political power would be shared by three groups: the
When the two sides convened again on 17 October, there were two main areas of disagreement: the periodic replacement of South Vietnam's American weaponry and the release of political prisoners held by the Saigon government. The North Vietnamese had made significant modifications to their past negotiating position and were hurrying to get the agreement signed before November, believing that President
Kissinger then flew on to Saigon on the 18th to discuss the terms with Thieu. The South Vietnamese president was not happy with either the new agreement or with Kissinger, who he felt had betrayed him. Although Kissinger knew Thieu's negotiating position, he had not informed him of the changes made in Paris nor had his approval been sought. Kissinger "had negotiated on behalf of the South Vietnamese government provisions that he, Thieu, had already rejected". Thieu completely castigated the agreement and proposed 129 textual changes to the document. He went further, demanding that the
Thieu then went one step further on 26 October, and publicly released an altered version of the text that made the South Vietnamese provisions look even worse than they actually were. The North Vietnamese leadership, believing that they had been hoodwinked by Kissinger, responded by broadcasting portions of the agreement that gave the impression that the agreement conformed to Washington and Saigon's objectives. Kissinger, hoping to both reassure the Communists of America's sincerity, and convince Thieu of the administration's dedication to a compromise, held a televised press conference at the
On 20 November, the South Vietnamese revisions, and 44 additional changes demanded by Nixon, were presented to the North Vietnamese delegation by Kissinger. These new demands included: that the DMZ be accepted as a true international boundary; that a token withdrawal of North Vietnamese troops take place; that the North Vietnamese guarantee an Indochina-wide cease fire; and that a strong international peace-keeping force (the
Once the North Vietnamese read the new demands, they began to retract their own concessions and wanted to bargain anew, leading Kissinger to proclaim that they were "stalling". The talks, scheduled to last ten days, ended on 13 December, with both parties agreeing to resume negotiations. Teams of experts from each side met to discuss technicalities and protocols on 14 December, during which time the North Vietnamese representatives submitted a Vietnamese-language text of the protocol on prisoners containing several important changes that Hanoi had failed to gain in the main negotiating sessions. At a subsequent meeting of experts on 16 December, the North Vietnamese side "stone-walled from beginning to end". The talks broke down that day, and the Hanoi negotiators refused to set a date for the resumption of negotiations.