When the Vietnamese and the Americans were negotiating the end of the Vietnam War in Paris in 1972 and 1973, their French hosts insisted that the talks continue over lunch and dinner. Initially, the Americans resisted the idea, but the French insisted, and  reluctantly the Americans accepted the proposal. However, after the final peace accord that was signed in January 1973, one of the American generals taking part in the negotiations paid tribute to the contribution that dinner diplomacy had played in arriving at the treaty. ‘It’s difficult to threaten to bomb someone back into the Stone Age,’ he ruminated, ‘when you’ve just passed them the salt.’

The story is probably apocryphal, but as Samuel Pepys wrote in 1665 ‘Strange to see how a good dinner and feasting reconciles everybody,”



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