In diplomacy and international relations, shuttle diplomacy is the action of a thrid party in serving as an intermediary between principals in a dispute, without direct principal-to-principal contact. Originally and usually, the process entails successive travel ("shuttling") by the intermediary, from the working location of one principal, to that of another. The term was first applied to describe the efforts of United States Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, beginning November 5, 1973, which facilitated the cessation of hostilities following the Yom Kippur War. Negotiators often use shuttle diplomacy when one or both of the two principals refuses to recognize the other.
A proponent of Realpolitik, Kissinger was highly influential in United States foreign policy between 1969 and 1977. Shuttle diplomacy became an important part of Kissinger's diplomatic efforts in the Middle East during the Nixon and Ford administrations. He accomplished the Sinai Interim Agreement (1975) and arrangements between Israel and Syria on the Golan Heights (1974).
Kissinger also oversaw United States negotiations in Vietnam in the 1960's. He reports that, "In August 1965... [Henry Cabot Lodge], an old friend serving as Ambassador to Saigon, had asked me to visit Vietnam as his consultant. I toured Vietnam first for two weeks in October and November 1965, again for about ten days in July 1966, and a third time for a few days in October 1966... Lodge gave me a free hand to look into any subject of my choice. "
Kissinger played a leading role in the negotiations that produced the Paris Peace Accords. Along with North Vietnamese Politburo Member Le Duc Tho, Kissinger was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on December 10, 1973, for the negotiation of ceasefires and "Ending the War and Restoring Peace in Vietnam"; Tho rejected the award, telling Kissinger that peace had not been really restored in South Vietnam. Although the conflict would continue until the successful invasion of South Vietnam by the North Vietnamese in 1975, Kissinger's diplomacy did help the U.S. end its military involvement in the war.
Under Kissinger's guidance, the United States government supported Pakistan in the Liberation War of Bangladesh in 1971. Kissinger was particularly concerned about the expansion of Soviet influence in South Asia as a result of a treaty of friendship recently signed by India and the U.S.S.R., and sought to demonstrate to the People's Republic of China (Pakistan's ally and an enemy of both India and the USSR) the value of a tacit alliance with the United States.
In 1974 a leftist military coup overthrew the sitting government in Portugal. The National Salvation Junta, the new government, quickly granted Portugal's colonies, including Angola and Mozambique, independence. Cuban troops in Angola supported the left-wing Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) in its fight against right-wing UNITA and FNLA rebels during the resulting Angolan Civil War (1975–2002). Kissinger supported the right-wing FNLA, led by Holden Roberto, and UNITA, led by Jonas Savimbi. He also helped orchestrate the CIA-supported invasion of Angola by South African troops. The FNLA was defeated and UNITA was turned into an insurgency.