January 26, 1972
STATEMENT OF SENA'IOR MIKE MANSFIELD (D. 1 MONTANA)
It is a long step forward in laying the cards on the table and
letting the American people and the Congress know of the many attempts over
the past 30 months to arrive at a basis for negotiations. The President and
the Congress are coming closer together on the basis of a terminal withdrawal
date in exchange for the release of the POW's and recoverable MIA's.
The concessions by the Administration could lay the groundwork for
the start of negotiations for the first time. It is my understanding that the
Administration has indicated that it is willing to consider separately the
military and political aspects of the proposals. I feel that the military
aspects are the most important, i.e. terminal date for withdrawal, release
of the POW's and the recoverable MIA's based on a cease-fire because that is
first and foremost in our interest; the political settlement relative to
South Viet Nam is secondary in comparison.
Overall it is an advance of previous positions but whether or not
the NLF and Hanoi will consider them to have enough substance remains to be
seen. It is my belief that the Preident's proposal should receive the most
serious consideration by the other side but that is a decision which they
will have to make. Certainly, it represents a degree of flexibility which
has been absent up to this time.
Mike Mansfield Papers, Series 21, Box 48, Folder 4, Mansfield Libary, University of Montana
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