Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - November 15, 1972, Lethbridge, Alberta
Wtdnndny, November 15, 1972 THI LITHHIDOI HRAID 4t Background to Vietnam agreement By BERNARD GWERTZMAN New York Times Service WASHINGTON More than a month has passed since Pre- sident Nixon's chief adviser on foreign policy, Henry A. Kissin- ger, said "peace is at hand" in Vietnam. The administra- tion remains optimistic but a settlement has, so far, remain -cd elusive. The following is an effort to sort out what is known about the current situation i Q. What is the background to the present activity? A. Kissinger and Leduc Tho, Hanoi's chief negotiator, agreed early last month on a nine- point draft agreement, which Washington says needs some additional work, which Hanoi says should have been signed on Oct. 31, and which Saigon la unhappy about. Q. What being done to re- solve Uiese differences? A. Gen. Alexander M. Haigh, Jr., Kissinger's deputy, is in Saigon to press President Ngu- yen Van Thieu to drop his ob- jections. Kissinger Is hoping to meet Tho once again, to wrap up the agreement. Has Hanoi actually said that Tho would meet Kissinger for additional negotiations? A. Not publicly. But North Vietnam has apparently hinted through an interview with Xuan Thuy, the leader of its delegation jn Paris, in the New York Times and through diplo- matic channels that it will agree to one more meeting so long as the United States doesn't try to back out again. Q. Did the administration really go back on an agree ment to sign by Oct. 31, as Hanoi charges. A. Complete information is still lacking. Kissinger says no, but acknowledges at the same time that the administration had made "a major effort" to meet the Oct. 31 deadline. It proved Impossible, he said, to resolve everything In so short a time. Why Oct. 31 deadline? Why did Hanoi set Oct. 31 as a deadline? A. The best diplomatic guess, is that Hanoi, reading the polls accurately, was convinc c d Nixon would be re-elected, and decided to deal with him before the Nov. 7 election, rather than afterwards. It brought forth a conciliatory plan on Oct. 8 in Paris and insisted that It be signed by the end of the month, Q. What effect did the elec- tions have on Nixon's decision not to meet Hanoi's deadline? A, Obviously Nixon would havd been delighted to have a solid agreement in time for election day, but by Oct. 22 he had decided there were too many holes in the accord to risk signing It without one final negotiating session. Nixon clear- ly did not want to have the agreement run into a storm of criticism on the eve of elec- tions. Q. Does this mean the presi- dent deliberately decided not to sign before election day? A. Not exactly. What happen- ed, according to all accounts, seems to be this: on Oct. 22, Nixon told Hanoi that another negotiating session was needed. Efforts were being made through diplomatic channels to arrange such a session when Hanoi, on Oct. 26, broadcast the outline of the nine point accord and demanded that the United States sign by Oct. 31. The effect was that there were no negotiations between Oct. 26 and Oct. 31; from the adminis- trations's point of view there was no sense in trying to rush negotiations in the last week be- fore elections. Q. my did Hanoi publish the agreement and why did it get so angry over the Oct. 31 dead- line? A. Hanoi does not trust the United Slates, and may have felt that Nixon was trying to back out of the agreement while leaving the impression with the American public that an accord was close at hand. By publish- ing the accord, Hanoi was, in a sense, forcing the alministra- tion to say publicly what it thought about the agreement. Still hopes to sign Q. And what docs the ndmin- Islration think about it? A. Kissinger on Oct. 26 said that the United States basically stands by the draft agreement and still hopes Lo sign it after remaining details are resolved. Q. What details are most pressing? A. Kissinger wants the inter- national control group to be in place on the day the cease-fire begins to reduce the chances of last minute grabbing of land assassination as the Viet- cong tries lo widen its area of control. He also wants Hanoi lo acknowledge that the accord does not oblige Saigon to parti- cipate in "coalition govern- ment" with the Communists and neutrals, some thing anathema to Tliieu. These prob- lems arose along with others when Kissinger was in Saigon from Oct. 18 to 23 trying to get Thicu lo drop his objections to the accord. Q. Why is Kissinger afraid of last minute fighting? A. While he was in Saigon, according to a key official, he received up to date intelli- gence that Hanoi had told its cadres to open attacks as soon as the cease fire began. This alarmed Washington and was a cause of the delay in signing the agreement. Q. What are Thieu's objec- tions? And how significant are they? A. Thieu is in principle oppos- ed (o any settlement short of total victory. Specifically, he wants all North Vietnamese troops withdrawn from South Vietnam to match the total American withdrawal. But the United States has told Tliieu that Hanoi cannot be expected to surrender at the negotiating table what it has not lost on the battlefield. Thus, in Wash- ington's view, Thieu should set- tle for an agreement giving him a belter Uian even chance both politically and militarily with the Communists. Will Thieu survive? Q. Docs Thieu really have a chance to survive without dir- ect American military support, or Is this an eltcmpt by Wash- ington to provide a rationale for "selling out" Thieu? A. Only lime will loll. The United Stales believes that North Vietnam has decided to seek a political Instead of n military victory in South Vicynam be- cause its main force units have been battered since it launched Us offensive last spring. What is unknown is how much polilicnl strength the Communisls con muster, and whether the non- Oommunisls in South Vietnam can unite around Tliieu or an- other loader to keep power away from Ihcm. Militarily, South Victnnni is believed In relatively good shape, bolster- ed by lost minulc injections of up lo d.uO aircraft and other military equipment. Q. What if Thicu continues to refuse to sign? Will Washington go ahead without liim? A. The administration's line is that it will not be "stamp- eded" Into an accord by Hanoi nor "deflected" from one by Saigon. In a word, yes. But the administration believes that, In the end, Tliieu will come along. Ho knows, and he knows the United Stales knows lie knows, that he cannot slay in power long without continued econo- mic, political and limited mili- tary support from tho United States (all allowed by the ngrec- Q. What's the best guess on the timing of an agreement? A. Kissinger says it will take several weeks once Hanoi re- sumes talks with him. It is ]Xis- siblc by Thanksgiving, more probably by Christmas, and virtually a certainly by inaugu- ration day, officials hero say. UN chief arrives Gen. Bruce Mae- Donald (left) of Edmonton, cbief officer of the United Nations India Pakistan ob- servation mission, Is greeted by Mat. Gen. M. N. (centre) of the Indian Annj and Col. II. .Sandvik .of Uw U.N. during visit to New Delhi In Nearly forgot- ten by the rest of the world, Canadians and other tnemben of the U.N. peacekeeping group are still at their posts in Kashmir, firewatchen at the flashpoint of India-PaUi- tan relations. (CP Photo) Save5 80 Discover the magic of Remote Control. 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