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For neither Viet-Nam nor Cambodia is the provision of additional aid the harbinger of a new and open-ended commitment for the United States. Our record in Indochina supports rather than contradicts that assertion. We worked successfully with the South Vietnamese in reducing and eventually eliminating our own direct military role, and subsequently with both the South Vietnamese and Cambodian Governments in achieving maximum economies and maximum impact from our aid. Those efforts will continue.
In previous testimony before this and other committees of the Congress in behalf of assistance for Indochina, I and other Administration witnesses have attempted to relate our policies and our programs there to the broader purposes of the United States in the world. For despite the agony of this nation's experience in Indochina, and the substantial reappraisal which has taken place concerning our proper role there, Indochina remains relevant to those broader foreign policy concerns. We no longer see the security of the United States as directly, immediately at issue. Nonetheless, it remains true that failure to sustain our purposes in Indochina would have a corrosive effect on our ability to conduct effective diplomacy worldwide. Our readiness to see through to an orderly conclusion the obligations we undertook in Indochina cannot fail to influence other nations' estimates of our stamina and our determination. Thus, we cannot isolate the situation in Indochina from our other and broader interests in this increasingly interdependent world. To now weaken in our resolve would have consequences inimical to those interests.
Finally, we cannot ignore another aspect of our policy toward Indochina. In entering into the Paris Agreement, we in effect told South Viet-Nam that we would no longer defend that country with U.S. forces, but that we would give it the means to defend itself. The South Vietnamese have carried on impressively, as have our friends in Cambodia, in the face of extreme difficulty. I do not believe that we can walk away. Measured against the sacrifices which we, and the people of Indochina, have already offered, the amounts which are now being requested are not large. Nor, even in this time of economic constraint, are they beyond our ability to provide. They are, however, vital to the restoration of conditions which can lead to lasting peace in Indochina.
Mr. HAMILTON. Thank you, Mr. Habib.
Are there any other statements by the gentlemen?
Mr. HAMILTON. Mr. Habib, I want to begin our questions with the summary of negotiating efforts on Cambodia. I have a statement which I think was prepared by the Department and was submitted to certain Members of the Congress just within the last few days. Do you have a copy of that statement?
Mr. HABIB. Yes, sir, it was made public yesterday. [The following information was submitted:]
SUMMARY OF NEGOTIATING EFFORTS ON CAMBODIA
We have made continual and numerous private attempts, in addition to our numerous public declarations, to demonstrate in concrete and specific ways our readiness to see an early compromise settlement in Cambodia.
Throughout the negotiations that led to the Paris Agreement on Viet-Nam in January 1973, the United States repeatedly indicated its desire to see a ceasefire and political settlement in Cambodia, as well as in Viet-Nam and Laos. In later discussions concerning the implementation of the Paris Agreement, the United States conveyed its ideas and its desire to promote a negotiated settlement between the Cambodian parties.
On many other occasions in 1971 and 1972 we made clear our interest in seeing an independent and neutral Cambodia established through negotiations and not through a battlefield victory.
A number of major efforts toward negotiation were made in 1973, efforts which were thwarted by the forced bombing halt in August of that year.
In October 1974, we broached the idea of an international conference on Cambodia with two countries having relations with the side headed by Prince Sihanouk
(GRUNK). We also discussed the elements of a peaceful settlement. We received no substantive response to these overtures.
In November 1974, we again indicated with specificity our readiness to see a compromise settlement in Cambodia in which all elements could play a role to a government with relations with the GRUNK. Our interlocutors showed no interest in pursuing the subject.
In December 1974, we tried to facilitate a channel to representatives of the Khmer Communists through a neutralist country with relations with the GRUNK. Nothing came of this initiative.
In December 1974 and early January 1975, we concurred in an initiative to open a dialogue with Sihanouk in Peking. Sihanouk at first agreed to receive an emissary, but later refused.
In February 1975, we tried to establish a direct contact with Sihanouk ourselves. We received no response.
Also in February 1975, we appraised certain friendly governments with clear interests and concerns in the region, and with access to governments supporting the GRUNK, of our efforts to move the conflict toward a negotiated solution and of the degree of flexibility in our approach. They could offer no help.
Unfortunately, none of these attempts have had any result. The reactions we have gotten so far suggest that negotiating prospects will be dim as long as the Cambodian Government's military position remains precarious.
We are continuing to pursue our long-stated objective of an early compromise settlement in Cambodia. In this process we are, and have been, guided by the following principles:
1. The United States will support any negotiations that the parties themselves are prepared to support.
2. The United States will accept any outcome from the negotiations that the parties themselves will accept.
3. As far as the United States is concerned, the personalities involved will not, themselves, constitute obstacles of any kind to a settlement. Mr. HAMILTON. Yes; I direct your attention to the third paragraph of the summary where we begin to talk about the number of occasions that we made our interests in a neutral and independent Cambodia clear. I would like to ask you to be as specific as you can with regard to the assertions in that statement. To begin with, you say in the statement that on many other occasions in 1971 and 1972 we made clear our interests in seeing an independent and neutral Cambodia. On what occasions, to whom did we make it clear, who made the efforts and so forth?
It is my intention, Mr. Habib, to kind of run down through this to get a complete picture of the negotiating.
Mr. HABIB. Mr. Chairman, I think you are reading from an earlier draft but that does not make any difference because it is just as accurate; the reference you make is encompassed in the final paragraph, you will.
Mr. HAMILTON. All right.
1971 AND 1972 EFFORTS
Mr. HABIB. If you will recall, sir, in that period that you particu-larly speak of, 1971 and 1972, we were in the process of negotiating in Paris with the North Vietnamese and the Vietcong. At that time we were also in contact with other powers with a particular interest in the area.
Both in the negotiations in Paris and in other contexts the question of Cambodia arose because as you know we did not approach the problem of peace in Indochina on an isolated basis. In fact, the final agreement that came out of those negotiations in Paris included reference to Cambodia as it did to Laos, and the expectation was that those ref
erences and the principles that lay behind them would ultimately produce equivalent political and peaceful settlements in both Laos and Cambodia. They did in Laos. They did not in Cambodia. So that is what it implied in that particular reference.
Mr. HAMILTON. That reference then refers to the discussions at the Paris Conference?
Mr. HABIB. In part but there are also, as you know, constant efforts through other means. There are other discussions that take place relevant to the problem. I would not call them negotiations in the same sense that the Paris negotiations were formal negotiations sitting across the table.
Mr. HAMILTON. Let's move to the next paragraph which in my copy says, "A number of major efforts toward negotiation were made in 1973, efforts which were thwarted by the forced bombing halt in August of that year." Could you describe to us what efforts were made in 1973, in what form, who made them, where were they made?
Mr. HABIB. Mr. Chairman, there is a certain amount of limitation on describing details, individuals and negotiations that still have a bearing with nations and individuals that might still play a role, but let me say this: That beginning in early 1973 there were a series of contacts and discussions dealing with the subject of a peaceful settlement in Cambodia.
Mr. HAMILTON. By our Government to what government?
Mr. HABIB. By our Government. As I said earlier, I think we will have to establish in open session right now, Mr. Chairman, that it would not be appropriate for me to discuss the details of negotiations to the extent that you obviously are seeking to pursue the matter. I did take this period in detail and describe it date by date, action by action and person by person to the chairman of your committee and to the ranking Republican member. I would suggest, therefore, that that be a matter that you either take up with them or that we could handle with their approval in some other way. I do not think it is appropriate to do so in this forum.
Mr. HAMILTON. Was that done orally to the chairman of this committee or in writing?
BOMBING HALT AND NEGOTIATIONS
Mr. HABIB. Orally. In any event, let me set the stage for you so you know what lies behind it. As I said, there was a series of contacts and discussions that appeared to be extremely promising, and, just as they were approaching a serious stage, they were broken off by the other side and that was at the time of the legislating of the bombing halt. That is just a specific fact.
Mr. HAMILTON. Do you now favor a resumption of the bombing to get negotiations started?
Mr. HABIB. Of course not, sir.
Mr. HAMILTON. You do not?
Mr. HABIB. Of course not.
Mr. HAMILTON. Why do you blame the Congress, Mr. Habib, for thwarting the negotiations?
Mr. HABIB. Mr. Chairman, I do not blame the Congress. The statement that was issued by the Department yesterday was a statement of a series of events and facts dealing with the negotiations or attempts at negotiations to achieve a peaceful settlement in Cambodia.
NEW YORK TIMES ARTICLE
Mr. HAMILTON. Mr. Habib, in the morning Times there is a headline that says, "Habib Charges Congress Thwarted Cambodian 1973 Peace Effort."
Mr. HABIB. That is what the New York Times said, Mr. Chairman; that is not what I said. I do not charge the Congress with anything. The statement issued by the Department yesterday and which I then went on into a press conference to answer any questions from the press.
[The article from the New York Times follows:]
[From the New York Times, Mar. 6, 1975]
HABIB CHARGES CONGRESS THWARTED CAMBODIAN 1973 PEACE EFFORT
(By Leslie H. Gelb)
WASHINGTON.-The Ford Administration revived today a charge made by President Richard M. Nixon that Congress had thwarted promising efforts toward peace in Cambodia by requiring an end of the American bombing in 1973. The Administration has yet to document this charge. The only public discussion of this matter was in the fall of 1974, when the outgoing American ambassador in Phnom Penh described the efforts as no more than "normal diplomatic contacts."
Asked whether the Administration had presented the evidence to Congress, Mr. Habib replied it had been given to senior legislators.
One of them was Senator John J. Sparkman, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, whose account of what was presented to him appears to be at variance with Mr. Habib's account.
SPARKMAN DOESN'T RECALL
Mr. Sparkman said he did not remember "Mr. Habib's saying anything" that was not contained in a three-page statement given by the State Department official to the press today.
Asked about the substance of the charge relating to the bombing halt, the Senator said:
"I had never connected the two together and I suppose we had never known at that time about the negotiations so we couldn't connect the two together." Mr. Habib said it was simply a fact that once the bombings stopped, the Communist-led insurgents had little incentive to pursue negotiations.
Mr. Habib's prepared statement listed the principles of the American negotiating efforts. They were, in effect, that the United States would support and accept any outcome agreed to by the parties themselves, including the resignation of President Lon Nol.
These principles, which Mr. Habib said were still American policy, differed from statements made by American officials in Phnom Penh to visiting members of Congress.
The officials said that, the hopeless situation of the Phnom Penh Government, the United States should now be seeking a "controlled solution or settlement" for Cambodia.
According to Congressional sources, "controlled solution or settlement" was defined as handing over power to the Cambodia insurgent's in an orderly fashion. A State Department official, who was questioned about this, said that the Congressional visitors had misunderstood the explanation of a "controlled solution" as opposed to "an uncontrolled solution." He said a "controlled solution” meant simply "an arrangement for a peaceful settlement by some form of negotiations." Mr. Habib's statement contained one-paragraph descriptions of seven
negotiating efforts made by Washington since the spring of 1973, and characterized them as "concerted, sustained and continual."
But Mr. Habib's own summary shows a gap of over one year between "extremely promising" talks in the summer of 1973 and the next effort, which was made in October, 1974, when the military situation began to deteriorate.
Questioned about this gap, Mr. Habib said the subject had also come up in discussions in between. He declined to identity the dates, places, circumstances, or intermediaries in these efforts, saying that be did not want to close out channels for the future.
Six of the seven efforts took place in the last five months. Every one failed because of the intransigence of the Cambodian insurgents, Mr. Habib said.
The only efforts described as serious was in the summer of 1973. In June of that year, Congress voted to stop the bombing in Cambodia, despite warnings by President Nixon that this would destroy the chances for peace. The halt went into effect on Aug. 15.
The parties involved in the effort were then reported to be the Soviet Union, China and North Vietnam.
In September, 1974, Emory C. Swank, the outgoing American ambassador in Cambodia, was asked about these contacts. He responded they were "normal diplomatic contacts," which he would not describe as negotiations.
Mr. Habib said today that "what I'm saying is not inconsistent with what Mr. Swank said." He then went on to say that the American efforts in the summer of 1973 were "to a certain degree" bearing fruit.
Mr. HAMILTON. Were you in favor of the bombing halt, Mr. Habib? Mr. HABIB. I was not at that time involved.
Mr. HAMILTON. It was the policy of the administration to be against the ban on the bombing at the time?
Mr. HABIB. At the time of the bombing halt legislation-and I am now speaking from the record, not from personal involvement; at that time I was not in Washington
Mr. HAMILTON. And it is now the policy of the administration to support the ban on bombing, is that correct?
Mr. HABIB. The administration has made it clear that it does not propose and has not proposed any military action involving American forces in Indochina. In addition, as you know, Mr. Chairman, that is a prerogative of the Congress in the final analysis. The administration has made clear and we have been pursuing the policy that no actions of such a nature would be taken without the approval of the Congress.
Mr. HAMILTON. Mr. Habib, let me read your statement that appeared in the newspaper this morning. It says:
Philip C. Habib, Assistant Secretary of State, said at a news conference that just as negotiating efforts "appeared to be approaching a serious stage they were thwarted by the forced bombing halt in August that was legislated by the Congress."
Mr. HABIB. Mr. Chairman, that was something that was in the statement issued by the Department of State. Obviously that was what the correspondent was referring to.
Mr. HAMILTON. Are you denying the statement?
Mr. HABIB. No, sir, on the contrary. I am telling you that what I am trying to say to you is that that is a statement of fact.
Mr. HAMILTON. It just appears to me, Mr. Habib, that you are blaming the Congress for stopping the negotiations at the same time that you are supporting a ban on the resumption of the bombing and I don't think you can have it both ways either.
Mr. HABIB. Let's take the simple circumstances.
Mr. HAMILTON. Sir?