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McNamara and Taylor Tour South Vietnam

Sept. 28, 1963 - Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara and General Maxwell Taylor, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, today toured Vietnam’s Mekong Delta region, a vast unfriendly expanse of swampy rice paddies where the battle against the Viet Cong guerrillas goes on. This was the third in a series of four field trips scheduled to be taken in Vietnam by the Pentagon chiefs on a Presidential mission to review progress of the American-backed war against the Communist Viet Cong. They were accompanied by Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge. Earlier trips took them on successive days to the northern and central highland sections of the country. Tomorrow they will remain in Saigon to confer with South Vietnam’s President Ngo Dinh Diem at his palace and then dine with him and other Vietnamese leaders at a black-tie affair at the same place. President Diem’s gesture of hospitality to the visitors was seen by some sources as a measure of his willingness to bury the hatchet, but the question remains as to whether Washington will be willing to join the burial without obtaining some concessions, particularly on Diem’s treatment of the country’s Buddhist majority. Nobody in Saigon believes that Diem will dump his brother, Ngo Dinh Nhu — the man behind the Buddhists’ rough treatment — or Nhu’s acidulous wife, Madame Nhu. Nor is anybody willing to predict that the Goverments’ policy against the anti-regime Buddhists will be changed. The Buddhist leadership has openly preached overthrow of the Diem regime.


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