Initial talks for a peace settlement began back in 1968, but never had any momentum until 1972 with Richard Nixon now president and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger leading the negotiations.
Nixon’s had promised an end the to war in during his presidential campaign, with the hopes of ending the war with “peace with honor,” and implementing Vietnamization, the start of the withdrawal of American troops out of Vietnam. However, that notion contradicted some of his actions as he authorized a secret bombing campaign to destroy North Vietnamese supply bases in Cambodia without approval from Congress. Word of the secret mission added fuel to a now large majority of American against the war. In response, Nixon addressed the American people in what is referred to as the “silent majority” speech.
This did not squelch the increasing violent response to American actions in Vietnam that culminated in the death of four students at a protest at Kent State University.
Talks between the North and South Vietnam government also delayed any chance of a quick resolution with both side apart on what to agree upon. North Vietnam wanted an end to the war, but also fear isolation as Nixon began his Detente with the Soviet Union and China who still supported the North during the war. The South Vietnamese President Nguyen Van Thieu opposed a tentative agreement that allowed his government to remain in control. Nixon and Kissinger applied pressure to Thieu with the guarantee U.S. support if the North Vietnamese did not hold their end of the settlement. A final bombing campaign in the North forced both side to agree an a settlement on January 1973. While both the North and South would continue to fight, leading to the North gaining full control in 1975, the U.S. involvement in the war was over after nearly ten years.