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President Kennedy and Ambassador Lodge Hold Press Conference

Aug. 15, 1963 - President Kennedy held a final conference today with his new Ambassador to South Vietnam, Henry Cabot Lodge, who leaves Saturday. Asked whether he foresaw any policy changes as a result of his taking over the diplomatic assignment, Mr. Lodge offered no specifics. “I think United States policy is to help the Republic of Vietnam win and maintain its freedom against Communist terrorism,” he said. “Anything that helps that policy we are in favor of, and anything that hinders it we are opposed to.” To a question of whether he thought the Buddhist issue in South Vietnam was hindering the policy, he said he would rather withhold analysis until he had had a chance to look at the situation. He did say, however, that he would tell anyone who asks that the U.S. is committed to the principle of religious freedom. His comments reflected the Administration’s deep concern over the conflict between the Catholic Diem regime and South Vietnam’s Buddhist majority at a time when some progress is reportedly being made in the fight against the Communist Viet Cong. The new Ambassador conferred with President Kennedy for more than half an hour. When photographers were permitted into the President’s office, the two men, who have fought hard political battles against each other, were chatting about boats and sailing.


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