Lao People's Democratic Republic

Lao People's Democratic Republic

Negotiations in Paris in the autumn of 1972 between the United States and North Vietnam created a favorable environment for reaching a cease-fire agreement in Laos. Negotiations opened in Vientiane on October 17, 1972, and went on inconclusively between Pheng Phongsavan, representing Souvanna Phouma, and Phoumi Vongvichit, representing the Pathet Lao. Souvanna Phouma was hopeful that the United States would keep up the pressure. But the situation had changed drastically during the previous decade. There were now only two sides in the negotiations, and the Pathet Lao insisted that their opponents be referred to as "the Viangchan government side." Moreover, the United States was on its way out of Indochina--whether by its Vietnamization policy or by negotiations with Hanoi. Nonetheless, there was no guarantee that Hanoi would respect the provisions of negotiated agreements on Laos, and the ability of the United States to enforce compliance was not as great as Souvanna Phouma imagined. The pressure grew to conclude the negotiations rapidly.

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