Feb. 1, 1964 - President Johnson said today he saw no chance now of negotiating a peace for Southeast Asia as proposed by President Charles de Gaulle of France. The President pledged instead a greater effort in the guerrilla war in South Vietnam. Mr. Johnson said that a proposal to neutralize both North and South Vietnam would be considered “sympathetically” but that he saw no possibility of neutralization happening at the present time. President Johnson said that if the United States could expect the Communists in North Vietnam to let South Vietnam live in peace, the Administration would change its attitude. As long as South Vietnam is threatened, he said, U.S. support for military resistance is the only course. “And I think that the operations should be stepped up there,” he said.
He cited assurances that General Nguyen Khanh, the new head of state in South Vietnam, would personally visit the vital areas in which the war had not gone well recently. He said he had communicated to Gen. Khanh the promise that the U.S. would help “to carry the war to the enemy.”
In the view of White House and State Department officials, a withdrawal of U.S. forces from South Vietnam would leave that nation at the mercy of indigenous Communist forces. They point out that the 1954 agreement to neutralize Laos did not end Communist attacks, even after Americans withdrew.
The President’s news conference, held in the White House auditorium, was the first for which he gave advance notice — 90 minutes. It was also the first to which he admitted television cameras, for a delayed broadcast. The format of the conference was the same as the one President Kennedy used for his conferences televised live from the State Department auditorium.