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Joint Statement Following the Meeting With President Thieu.

June 08, 1969

PRESIDENT Nguyen Van Thieu of the Republic of Vietnam and President Nixon of the United States met on Midway Island on June 8, 1969. The meeting was at the invitation of President Nixon.

The principal purpose of the meeting was to permit the two Presidents to review a broad range of matters of mutual interest. These included developments in Vietnam--political, economic, and military--the Paris talks, and the general situation in Southeast Asia. Their daylong discussions were chiefly private though they drew on the assistance and counsel of senior members of their respective governments. Though it marked their first meeting as Chiefs of State, the occasion offered President Thieu and President Nixon the opportunity to renew a friendship dating from 1965.

The two Presidents examined in detail the military situation in Vietnam and received a briefing from Vietnamese and American military commanders. They agreed that the failure of the other side to achieve its objectives should convince it of its inability to gain a victory by military means. They expressed the hope that the other side will realize the futility and dangers of its efforts and that it will accept a solution based on the principle of self-determination for the people of South Vietnam. They agreed that application of the principle of self-determination requires that the people be able to choose without interference or terror. They rejected communist attempts to pre-determine the outcome of future elections before they are held.

The two Presidents confirmed their conviction that the form of government under which the people of South Vietnam will live should be decided by the people themselves. They reiterated their common resolve to reject any attempt to impose upon the Republic of Vietnam any system or program or any particular form of government, such as coalition, without regard to the will of the people of South Vietnam. They declared for their part they will respect any decision by the people of South Vietnam that is arrived at through free elections.

The two Presidents agreed that it would be appropriate to offer guarantees and safeguards for free elections. Provisions for international supervision could be written into the political settlement.

The two Presidents reviewed with particular attention the steps being taken to modernize and improve the Vietnamese armed forces. President Thieu referred to the principle of replacement of American by Vietnamese troops which he had first enunciated in his address to the nation of December 31, 1968, and he expressed pleasure in informing President Nixon that the armed forces of the Republic of Vietnam were now reaching the point where they can assume an increasingly large share of the burden of combat.

President Nixon welcomed this development. He and President Thieu thereafter made an announcement regarding the replacement program. Both Presidents agreed that the replacement program should be carried out in consonance with the security situation prevailing at the moment.

President Thieu explained his plans for further strengthening the local forces and asked for additional assistance for that program. President Nixon said he would give this request sympathetic consideration.

The two Presidents then discussed the negotiations taking place in Paris. They reviewed carefully the positions each had recently enunciated--President Thieu on March 25, when he made the offer to talk directly with the "National Liberation Front," the six points he presented on April 7, and President Nixon's May 14 speech. The two Presidents are convinced that the proposals they have put forward represent a reasonable basis for peace. They took note of the 10-point proposal tabled by the other side in Paris on May 8, and observed that despite the fact that it contained certain unacceptable provisions, there were certain points which appear not too far from the positions taken by the Government of the Republic of Vietnam and the United States.

The two Presidents expressed their intention to seek a just settlement to the conflict in the spirit of patience and good will. President Thieu reiterated his Government's willingness to talk directly to the NLF about moves relating to a peaceful settlement.

The two Presidents reviewed and reaffirmed the positions taken in concert by the allies at the recent seven-nations conference of ministers in Bangkok. They reiterated in particular the allied position concerning mutual withdrawals of non-South Vietnamese forces, agreeing that withdrawals could commence simultaneously and proceed expeditiously on the basis of a mutually acceptable timetable; that all externally introduced forces would have to be withdrawn not only from South Vietnam but also from Laos and Cambodia; and that the further introduction of forces into these countries must be prohibited. They agreed that the essential element of any arrangement on withdrawal of non-South Vietnamese forces is that there be adequate assurances and guarantees of compliance with the terms of the arrangement.

President Thieu informed President Nixon that his Government was devoted to the principle of social and political justice for the people of South Vietnam. The policy of national reconciliation had been adopted with this in mind. His offer to negotiate directly with the "National Liberation Front"--without conditions-had been inspired by this principle. If the other side is genuinely interested in finding peace, it should be possible to create an atmosphere in South Vietnam in which all of the people of South Vietnam can participate in the life of a free, viable, and prosperous state.

The two Presidents discussed the progress that has been made in economic and political development in Vietnam despite the present conflict, including the installation of the supreme court and the inspectorate provided for by the Constitution, the wide-spread holding of village and hamlet elections, and the extension of security in rural areas. President Thieu outlined his Government's plans for additional village and hamlet elections, and he laid particular stress on his pursuit of a vigorous land redistribution program that would give the land to those who work it. President Nixon expressed gratification at this progress, expressed special interest in the new concepts of land distribution developed by President Thieu and offered American cooperation to help achieve it.

Finally, the two Presidents reviewed the plans now being formulated by the Republic of Vietnam for the post-war development of the country. They expressed gratification that, despite the continuation of the conflict, plans were going forward. Given the substantial natural and human resources available, the prospects are excellent for conversion to a peace-time economy, job opportunities, increased domestic production in agriculture and industry, as well as exports. President Nixon pledged his country's assistance to this end. Economic self-sufficiency could be achieved in a decade of peace. The two Presidents looked forward, after the termination of hostilities, to an era of peace and the economic and national development of Southeast Asia.

President Thieu asked President Nixon to convey to the American people the deep gratitude of the people of South Vietnam for the sacrifices they have made and the assistance they have given the Republic of Vietnam in its struggle to maintain its freedom. President Nixon assured President Thieu of the determination of the American people to assist their South Vietnamese allies to realize the basic objectives of the two nations. He acknowledged the trust placed in the American people by the people of the Republic of Vietnam and promised that this trust will be honored.

The two Presidents agreed to meet again and review developments in the near future.

Note: The joint statement was released at Midway Island.

Richard Nixon, Joint Statement Following the Meeting With President Thieu. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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