The Vietnam peace talks, which resume in Paris on Thursday (July 13), began in May 1968 amid great optimism throughout the world that there could be a breakthrough in one of the longest running conflicts.
The Vietnam peace talks, which resume in Paris on Thursday (July 13), began in May 1968 amid great optimism throughout the world that there could be a breakthrough in one of the longest running conflicts. But the United Nations Secretary General, U Thant, who visited the delegations after nine weeks of talks, repeated an earlier assessment that it would be a long and involved process. And so it turned out. the talks were broken off and resumed a number of times with the last break in may, when the United States delegation said the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong were not negotiating seriously.
SYNOPSIS: The Vietnam peace talks began in May, nineteen-sixty-eight amid great optimism. But after nine weeks of talking, the then United Nations Secretary-General, U Thant, arrived in Paris to visit the opposing delegations and get an assessment of the progress or lack of it. U Thant had predicted it would be long and involved process and, after talks with the delegations, he saw no reason to change his mind.
At the United States Embassy in Paris, U Thant met the then Chief American negotiator, Mr. Averell Harriman. And asked later if he thought it was time for a third party to intervene to break the stalemate, the Secretary-General said he did not think it was possible at that stage.
North Vietnam's chief delegate is Xuan Thuy, a man with a reputation as a dedicated revolutionary and a diplomat. And, in his own country, quite a name as a poet.
As the months went by, it became more and more apparent that agreement--let alone peace--was perhaps as far away as ever, with each side rejecting the other's proposals and making charges and counter charges.
The representative of the South Vietnamese Liberation Front at the talks is Madame Nguyen Thi Binh. She has said repeatedly that the Front is profoundly attached to peace, but would continue to fight until it could get peace with independence and freedom.
In Paris last February, a conference on Indochina ended with a protest march and a call to President Nixon to set a precise date for American withdrawal. The Americans have in fact been winding down their part in the war over the last couple of years.
The talks were suspended last May, and the American negotiator, William Porter, explains why.
American officials say they are hopeful that events of the last few months--particularly on the battlefield--may have changed hanoi's attitude to the paris Peace talks.