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Trouble in Southeast Asia

May 21, 1964 - The United States sent jet reconnaissance planes soaring over the Plain of Jars in Laos today to gather evidence of Communist aggression and provide a quick show of American force.

It was the first concrete American response to the Red Pathet Lao sweep across the strategic plain. It was designed to underline this country’s pledge not to let Southeast Asia be overrun by Communists.

The U.S. withdrew its military aid mission from Laos after the 1962 Geneva agreement which barred foreign troops or military personnel in Laos. Officials said introduction of the reconnaissance planes was necessitated by continued Communist violation of the agreement.

Chairman J. William Fulbright (D-Ark.) of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee disclosed that the Johnson Administration was also considering “hot pursuit” action against North Vietnam. But officials emphasized that no decision had been reached yet.

At the United Nations today, U.S. Ambassador Adlai Stevenson told the U.N. Security Council in unmistakable terms that the U.S. will stay in Southeast Asia as long as peoples there are willing to fight Communist aggression to preserve their independence.

At the same time, he accused the Soviet Union of masterminding a global campaign of subversion to overthrow and place newly independent nations under Communist control.

“The United States cannot stand by while Southeast Asia is overrun by armed aggressors,” said Stevenson. “And if anyone has the illusion that my Government will abandon the people of Vietnam — or that we shall weary of the burden of support that we are rendering to these people — it can only be due to ignorance of the determination and stamina of the American people.”

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