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Omar and Chris' Vietnam War Site

Paris Peace Talks

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The Paris Peace Talks were signed in 1973 by the governments of North Vietnam, South Vietnam, and the United States with the intent to establish peace in Vietnam. The Provisional Revolutionary Government of the Republic of South Vietnam, created by the National Liberation Front (NLF), was treated as an independent party during these negotiations. The existing South Vietnamese government under Ngo Dinh Diem regarded the NLF, commonly referred to as Viet Cong, as agents of the Communist government of North Vietnam, and thus not a sovereign party. The North similarly viewed the Southern government as an agent and puppet of the United States, and similarly non-sovereign. Johnson thus began to negotiate unilaterally with the Northern government until he left office.

After Nixon's election, problems still continued. For many months the North and South famously debated over the shape of the table that would be used at the Paris Peace Conference. The North favored a circular table, in which all parties, including NLF representatives, would appear to be equal in importance. The South argued that only a rectangular table was acceptable, for only a rectangle could show two distinct sides to the conflict, the North and South. Eventually a compromise was reached, in which representatives of the North and South government would sit at a circular table, with members representing all other parties sitting on individual square tables around them.

A treaty was finally signed on January 27, 1973. All parties pledged to "respect the independence, sovereignty, unity, and territorial integrity of Vietnam as recognized by the 1954 Geneva Agreements on Vietnam." The United States agreed to continue its withdrawal of troops, which had started in 1969, leading to a complete withdrawal by March 29, 1973.

The treaty's terms were unpopular with many in president Nguyen Van Thieu's Southern government. Thieu's main objection was that North Vietnamese troops were permitted to remain in areas they controlled in the South. Moreover, Thieu felt the sudden withdrawal of American forces would cripple their military strength, leaving them vulnerable if the North decided to violate the cease-fire. In 1975 this proved true, and the Northern government successfully invaded and conquered the South.

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After years of arguing over such things as the size of the table they would negotiate at, both sides finally came to an agreement they could live with and the cease fire agreement was signed on January 27, 1973.