China announced today that its withdrawal from Vietnam is complete and Vietnam proposed Hanoi or a place near the Vietnamese-Chinese border for diplomatic talks between the two Communist nations.
The offer from Vietnam, in a Foreign Ministry note broadcast over Radio Hanoi, made it clear that the talks could begin only after total withdrawal. Japan's Kyodo news service later reported that Chinese Communist Party Chairman Hua Guofeng (Hua Kuo-feng) had announced the end of the withdrawal in Peking but without making any reference to the Vietnam proposal for talks in Hanoi.
Hua was quoted as saying, when asked if China would attack Vietnam again if Vietnamese troops did not leave Cambodia, "We do not make the Vietnamese withdraw from Cambodia a condition for the [Chinese] withdrawal."
The Vietnamese said Hanoi was their first choice for the talks, but if China objected the meetings could take place near the border, alternately on the Vietnamese and Chinese sides of the frontier. The note said talks should begin one week after the Chinese withdrawal is compiete.
Vietnam explained its reluctance to meet the Chinese in Peking by referring to talks there las tyear on problems of ethnic Chinese who were cross the border into China. Twice, the note said, Vietnamese officials went to Peking for talks, but the discussions neded without success.
The note acknowledged that the Chinese are withdrawing -- without saying the pullout is complete -- but repeated charges that China's troops have destroyed bridges and buildings, looted villages and poisoned wella as they pulled back.
It also said that border markers 41 and 45 have been moved deep inside Vietnam from their rightful places. Hanoi claims that China aims to occupy small parts of Vietnam along the border permanently.
Since the invasion, which began Feb. 17, Vietnam has demanded respect for the "historical" border agreed to in the late 19th century by China and France, which ruled Indochina. China has countered that there have been Vietnamese encroachments and that it is seeking adjustments.
Since Vietnam insists that a complete Chinese withdrawal to the "historical" border is a precondition to any talks, it is possible that Peking and Hanoi will argue at long range for some time before their diplomats actually sit down together.
Vietnam described the proposed talks as aimed at normalizing relations between the two countries. Both sides have agreed they will be held at the vice foreign minister level.
There was no immediate response from China to the Vietnamese proposal.
In a separate development, China delivered a note to the Lao ambassador in Peking regretting that Laos has halted a Chinese roadbuilding project in Laos. On March 7, the Lao government, which has come increasingly under the domination of Vietnam, told China to recall the roughly 3,000 Chinese workers on a road running from northern Laos toward the former royal capital of Luang Prabang.
"This is another step taken by the Lao government under the pressure of other countries to undermine the traditional friendship between the people of the two countries," China's note said. Peking has charged that Laos acted under the influence of Vietnam and the Soviet Union.
A senior Lao official in Vientiane yesterday accused China of moving troops several miles into Lao territory along a six-mile stretch of their common border and charged that the Chinese road builders were "engaging in espionage activities and laying the groundwork for a military contingency.