Still deadlocked, the Vietnam peace talks in Paris enter their fourth year. The talks had begun with much fanfare in May 1968, but almost immediately were plagued by procedural questions that impeded any meaningful progress. Even the seating arrangement was disputed: South Vietnamese Premier Nguyen Cao Ky refused to consent to any permanent seating plan that would appear to place the National Liberation Front (NLF) on an equal footing with Saigon. North Vietnam and the NLF likewise balked at any arrangement that would effectively recognize the Saigon as the legitimate government of South Vietnam. After much argument and debate, chief U.S. negotiator W. Averell Harriman proposed an arrangement whereby NLF representatives could join the North Vietnamese team but without having to be acknowledged by Saigon’s delegates; similarly, South Vietnamese negotiators could sit with their American allies without having to be acknowledged by the North Vietnamese and the NLF representatives. Such seemingly insignificant matters became fodder for many arguments between the delegations at the negotiations and nothing meaningful came from this particular round of the ongoing peace negotiations.
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