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U.S. Considers Withdrawal of Some Troops from South Vietnam

Nov. 14, 1963 - Detailed plans for the initial withdrawal of U.S. troops from South Vietnam depend upon policy meetings scheduled to be held in Honolulu next week, President Kennedy said today. The President stressed at his news conference that the U.S. objective was to bolster the South Vietnamese Government’s fight against Communist insurgents and thus permit the return home of American forces. There are about 16,500 U.S. officers and men of all services stationed in South Vietnam in support of the Saigon Government’s war effort. The official objective, announced on Oct. 2, is to withdraw most of the troops by the end of 1965. However, Mr. Kennedy modified the Oct. 2 White House statement. At that time, it was said that enough progress was expected in the anti-Communist struggle in South Vietnam to allow the withdrawal of 1,000 U.S. troops by the end of this year. Mr. Kennedy was asked today whether, in view of the changed situation in Saigon following the military coup that deposed President Diem, he still expected to bring back 1,000 troops this year. “No,” the President replied, “we are going to bring back several hundred before the end of the year, but I think on the question of the exact number I thought we would wait until the meeting of Nov. 20.” The President referred to the high-level strategy session in Honolulu at which Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge and Gen. Paul D. Harkins, commander of the U.S. Military Assistance Command, will brief American officials on developments in South Vietnam. Secretary of State Dean Rusk and Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara also are scheduled to take part.


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