Saturday, December 17, 2011

Le Duc Tho

Lê Đc Th (October 14, 1911 – October 13, 1990), born Phan Đình Khi in Ha Nam province, was a Vietnamese revolutionary, general, diplomat, and politician, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize jointly with United States Secretary of State Henry Kissinger in 1973, although he declined it.

In 1930, Tho helped found the Indochinese Communist Party. French colonial authorities imprisoned him from 1930 to 1936 and again from 1939 to 1944. After his release in 1945, he helped lead the Viet Minh, the Vietnamese independence movement, against the French, until the Geneva Accords were signed in 1954. He then joined the Lao Dong Politburo of the Vietnam Workers' Party in 1955, now the Communist Party of Vietnam. Tho oversaw the Communist insurgency that began in 1956 against the South Vietnamese government.

From 1978 to 1982 Tho was named by Hanoi to act as chief advisor to the Kampuchean United Front for National Salvation (FUNSK) and later to the nascent People's Republic of Kampuchea. Lê Đc Th's mission was to ensure that Khmer nationalism would not override Vietnam's interests in Cambodia after the Khmer Rouge was overthrown.

He was the Standing Member of the Central Committee's Secretariat of the Party from 1982 to 1986 and later became the Advisor of Party's Central Committee.

Paris Peace Accords
The United States actively joined the Vietnam War during the early 1960s. Several rounds of Paris Peace Talks (some public, some secret) were held between 1969 and 1973. While Xuan Thuy led the official negotiating team representing the Democratic Republic of Vietnam at the talks in Paris, Th and U.S. National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger since February 1970 engaged in secret talks that eventually led to a cease-fire in the Paris Peace Accords of January 23, 1973. The basic history of the Accords included: release of POWs within 80 days; ceasefire to be monitored by the International Commission of Control and Supervision (ICC); free and democratic elections to be held in South Vietnam; U.S. aid to South Vietnam would continue; North Vietnamese troops could remain in South Vietnam.

While January 23 is generally recognized as the enactment date of the Peace Accords, the talks continued out of necessity. Sporadic fighting continued in some regions. While U.S. ground forces were removed by March 29, bombing continued in North Vietnam. Due to continued allegations of ceasefire violations by all sides, Kissinger and Tho met in Paris in May and June 1973 for the purpose of getting the implementation of the peace agreement back on track. On June 13, 1973, the United States and North Vietnam signed a joint communique pledging mutual support for full implementation of the Paris Accords.

Nobel Peace Prize
Tho and Henry Kissinger were jointly awarded the 1973 Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts in negotiating the Paris Peace Accords. However, Th declined to accept the award, since there was still no peace agreement.

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