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President Kennedy Meets with Top Aides on Vietnam

Nov. 2, 1963 - President Kennedy met twice today with his top national-security advisers to formulate a U.S. policy on establishing relations with the Provisional Government of South Vietnam. The President had canceled plans to attend the Army-Air Force football game in Chicago so he could conduct a full policy review. Washington was expected to extend recognition, probably early in the week, as soon as the revolutionary rulers of South Vietnam listed a cabinet and declared their policies. The U.S. Ambassador, Henry Cabot Lodge, was reported to be in contact with the military leaders who overthrew President Ngo Dinh Diem, but the White House and the State Department have not officially characterized Washington’s reaction to the coup. The Administration also made no official comment on reports of the deaths of Ngo Dinh Diem and his brother, Ngo Dinh Nhu. Although some members of Congress expressed regret at this news, the Administration maintained silence. In any event, the upheaval made it appear likely that President Kennedy will visit the Far East and possibly Saigon within the next few months, before the 1964 election campaign begins. Washington sources said such a move would have a strong psychological effect on the war effort in South Vietnam.

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