Khe Sanh, the isolated United States firebase selected by the Party leadership for an effort to achieve a spectacular victory on the eve of the negotiations, was located in the midst of rugged hills just south of the Demilitarized Zone. Political force would further reduce the morale and the military strength of the Saigon regime and lead to a stage of fighting and negotiating. Party leaders had contended that negotiations could begin when an indecisive situation had been created on the battlefield. One of the major military consequences of the rising US presence in South Vietnam in the mid-1960s had been to force the insurgency back from the provinces around Saigon into the border region near Cambodia. According to Henry Kissinger, Hanoi's decision to launch the 1972 Easter Offensive was probably reached some time the October when Le Duc Tho, the Politburo's chief representative at the peace talks in Paris, developed a "diplomatic illness" and departed for Hanoi.