L c Th (Vietnamese: ( listen); 14 October 1911 – 13 October 1990), born Phan nh Khi in Nam Dinh Province, was a Vietnamese revolutionary, general, diplomat, and politician. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize jointly with United States Secretary of State Henry Kissinger in 1973, but he declined it.
In 1930, L c Th 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. In 1948, he was in South Vietnam as Deputy Secretary, Head of the Organization Department of Cochinchina Committee Party. He then joined the Lao Dong Politburo of the Vietnam Workers’ Party in 1955, now the Communist Party of Vietnam. Th oversaw the Communist insurgency that began in 1956 against the South Vietnamese government. In 1963 Th supported the purges of the Party surrounding Resolution 9.
From 1978 to 1982 L c Th 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. L c Th’s mission was to ensure that Khmer nationalism would not override Vietnam’s interests in Cambodia after the Khmer Rouge was overthrown.
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 Xun Thu 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 23 January 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; and North Vietnamese troops could remain in South Vietnam.
While 23 January 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 29 March, bombing continued in North Vietnam. Due to continued allegations of ceasefire violations by all sides, Kissinger and Th met in Paris in May and June 1973 for the purpose of getting the implementation of the peace agreement back on track. On 13 June 1973, the United States and North Vietnam signed a joint communique pledging mutual support for full implementation of the Paris Accords.
Nobel Peace Prize
Th 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, claiming that peace had not yet been established, and that the United States and the South Vietnamese governments were in violation of the Paris Peace Accords:
However, since the signing of the Paris agreement, the United States and the Saigon administration continue in grave violation of a number of key clauses of this agreement. The Saigon administration, aided and encouraged by the United States, continues its acts of war. Peace has not yet really been established in South Vietnam. In these circumstances it is impossible for me to accept the 1973 Nobel Prize for Peace which the committee has bestowed on me. Once the Paris accord on Vietnam is respected, the arms are silenced and a real peace is established in South Vietnam, I will be able to consider accepting this prize. With my thanks to the Nobel Prize Committee please accept, madame, my sincere respects.
The ceasefire would not last, with the war ending when Saigon fell in 1975 and North Vietnam captured South Vietnam.