Feb. 15, 1962 - Frederick E. Nolting, Ambassador to South Vietnam, said today that social, economic and political reforms in South Vietnam could be accomplished quickly if the Vietnamese stopped criticizing the regime of President Ngo Dinh Diem (pictured) and tried to improve it from within. Mr. Nolting seemed to be trying to convince the Government of President Diem that it would enjoy U.S. support through thick or thin. This is in line with the “sink or swim with Diem” theme prevalent in Washington. “My Government fully supports your elected constitutional Government,” the Ambassador emphasized, as though to knock down any rumors that U.S. personnel would passively support any coup attempts. He said President Kennedy’s decision to accelerate aid to South Vietnam had been based on the following premises:
- That most of the Vietnamese do not want Communist rule but instead a government that tries to meet the wants and needs of the people.
- That most Vietnamese are willing to make sacrifices to protect their independence.
- That the South Vietnam government, “under the dedicated and courageous leadership of your President,” is striving to attain under great difficulties social, political, and economic gains for the Vietnamese people.
- That South Vietnam has been subjected to an illegal attack by North Vietnam under the guise of a national liberation movement.
- That Communist aggression in Southeast Asia must be checked in Vietnam.
He said it was absurd to suggest American infringement of Vietnamese sovereignty. Nevertheless, rumors that the U.S. seeks military bases in South Vietnam are believed even by anti-Communist Vietnamese.
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