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President Kennedy Outlines Difficulties in Vietnam and Laos

Feb. 21, 1962 - President Kennedy indicated today that the U.S. intended to try to bring about general stability in South Vietnam and Laos. But Mr. Kennedy acknowledged at his news conference that the problems in both Southeast Asian countries presented considerable difficulties. In South Vietnam, he said, the U.S. is working with the Government to encourage administrative reforms and to create proper political conditions for the effective use of increasing aid. “These objectives, I must say, are hard to carry out,” the President remarked. The President noted that South Vietnam had been in a state of war for years, first under the Japanese occupation and then with France. When South Vietnam achieved independence in 1954, he added, it had few skilled administrators. Despite this, he continued, its gross national product, agricultural production, health, and education have improved. Further improvement, Mr. Kennedy said, is a “matter the Vietnamese Government must be concerned about.” As for the U.S., he said, “we are prepared to offer every assistance we can in making that Government a more effective instrument for the people.” In recent months, the U.S. has greatly increased its military assistance with the supply of helicopters, weapons, equipment, and thousands of advisors.

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