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Remarks to Reporters Announcing a Major Statement on Peace Initiatives in Southeast Asia.

October 06, 1970

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen:

Be seated, please.

First, I wanted to say to those who did not go on the trip that I hope you had as relaxed a week as we did. And second, I know that there has been, of course, a great deal of interest in the subject of any new proposal that might be made on the negotiating front in Southeast Asia, and particularly on Vietnam.

For the past several weeks within the administration, we have been having discussions of our negotiating position. You may recall that in California I met with Ambassador Bunker, and when we were in Ireland we had an extended discussion with Ambassador Bruce and Ambassador Habib, and got their assessment of the situation and their recommendations.

Based on the discussions that we have had and based also on the recommendations that we have received from those within the administration, who have considered this matter, I have decided to make a major statement on this subject at 9 o'clock Wednesday night. Those who may want to cover it on television and radio will be able to do so.

The statement is one that has been prepared only after very thorough consideration of all the issues that are involved in our negotiating position. It is a statement that has been discussed with the Government of Vietnam, the Government of Cambodia, and the Government of Laos, and has the approval of those governments as well, of course, as the approval of the Government of the United States.

I will brief the Cabinet at 5 o'clock on Wednesday; I will brief a bipartisan group of legislative leaders at 6 o'clock. Secretary Rogers will be briefing the foreign governments who expressed interest in this area or who have interest in the area, during the course of the day.

Ron Ziegler will work out a convenient time for members of the press--the writing press and the television press--for two briefings by Dr. Kissinger that will take place in plenty of time for your deadlines.

A word about what the statement will involve: Now, there has been speculation, and I understand that, as to what move should be made, will be made, by our Government at this time. I would suggest that your speculation, of course, can continue. I would expect it to. But I would simply give you these guidelines. I naturally will not indicate the substance of the statement until I make it.

First, it will be the most comprehensive statement ever made on this subject since the beginning of this very difficult war. Comprehensive geographically--it will not be limited to Vietnam; it will cover all of Southeast Asia. Also comprehensive in terms of subject matter--it will not be limited to any one of the particular subjects that you have mentioned in your speculation, but will cover all of the major issues that are involved in the Southeast Asian area.

Finally, I would like to indicate that we do not consider this to be a propaganda gimmick. We are not saying it simply for the record. An indication of our attitude in that respect is that I have instructed Ambassador Bruce to lay this proposal on the table at the Paris conference on Thursday morning when he meets with the negotiators from North Vietnam and the Vietcong.

That completes my statement, and I will now get back and see if I can get the statement ready so that you can make your deadlines.

Thank you.

Note: The President spoke at approximately 11:20 a.m. in the Briefing Room at the White House.

Richard Nixon, Remarks to Reporters Announcing a Major Statement on Peace Initiatives in Southeast Asia. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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