Rumors arise that there is a breakthrough in the secret talks that had been going on in a villa outside Paris since August 1969. Henry Kissinger, President Richard Nixon’s national security advisor, and North Vietnamese negotiators conducted the peace talks. Le Duc Tho, who had taken over as chief negotiator for Hanoi from Xuan Thuy, presented a draft peace agreement proposing that two separate administrations remain in South Vietnam to negotiate general elections. This proposal accepted in substance earlier U.S. terms, and by doing so dropped previous Communist demands for a political solution to accompany a military one.
Tho, believing that the Americans were eager for peace in Vietnam before the elections, proposed that the United States and North Vietnam arrange a cease-fire, governing all military matters between themselves. The proposal also suggested leaving the political questions to be settled by the Vietnamese sides, who would be governed by a “National Council of Reconciliation” until a final settlement could be reached. Hanoi and Saigon would continue to occupy the territory each presently held until then. Kissinger, who considered Hanoi’s offer a breakthrough, cabled South Vietnamese President Nguyen Van Thieu “to seize as much territory as possible.” In light of this new development in Paris, President Nixon ordered the commencement of Operation Enhance Plus, a program designed to provide South Vietnam with $2 billion worth of military equipment to replace what was lost during the heavy fighting of the 1972 North Vietnamese Easter Offensive.