"We today have concluded an agreement to end the war and bring peace with honor in Vietnam and in Southeast Asia." (White House, Washington, D.C., January 23, 1973)
On January 23, 1973, after nearly five years of talks, negotiators Henry Kissinger of the United States and Le Duc Tho of North Vietnam initialed a peace agreement to end the war in Vietnam. That evening, U.S. President Richard M. Nixon announced the Paris agreement, praising it as the fulfillment of his promise to bring "peace with honor" to Vietnam. Four days later, on January 27, representatives of the United States, North and South Vietnam, and the Vietcong signed the peace agreement, officially ending America's involvement in the Vietnam War. Its key provisions included a cease-fire throughout Vietnam, the withdrawal of U.S. forces, the release of prisoners of war, and the reunification of North and South Vietnam through peaceful means. The South Vietnamese government was to remain in place until new elections were held, and North Vietnamese forces in the South were not to be reinforced nor advance further. However, in reality, the agreement was little more than a face-saving gesture by the U.S. government. Within weeks of the American departure, the Communists violated the cease-fire, and by early 1974, the war had resumed. By the end of the 1974, South Vietnamese authorities reported that altogether 80,000 people had been killed in fighting during the year, making it the most costly of the Vietnam War. On April 30, 1975, the last few Americans still in South Vietnam were airlifted out of the country as Saigon fell to Communist forces. North Vietnamese Colonel Bui Tin, accepting the surrender of South Vietnam later in the day, remarked, "You have nothing to fear; between Vietnamese there are no victors and no vanquished. Only the Americans have been defeated." The Vietnam War was the longest and most unpopular foreign war in U.S. history, and cost fifty-eight-thousand American lives.