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U.S. Officials Dismayed at New Viet Coup

Jan. 29, 1964 - The U.S. Government made no official comment tonight on the latest coup d’état in South Vietnam. Officials in Washington were obviously embarrassed that the regime they helped bring to power only last November had been overthrown. But while they praised the fighting qualities of Maj. Gen. Nguyen Khanh, the leader of yesterday’s coup, they disclaimed any responsibility for his successful insurrection. It is understood that the Johnson Administration urged Gen. Khanh to avoid bloodshed and to give the man he replaced, Maj. Gen. Duong Van Minh, a position in the new Government. General Khanh was understood to have indicated he would give Gen. Minh a “titular position” in what he called South Vietnam’s “new dynamism,” if Gen. Minh would denounce the neutralist policy of South Vietnamese “Gaullists.” President de Gaulle said last Aug. 29 that France would cooperate with the people of Vietnam in an effort to unify the divided country and make it independent of “external influences.” That statement was resented in Washington as an invitation to the North Vietnamese Communists and the South Vietnamese anti-Communists to get rid of Soviet, Chinese Communist and U.S. influence in the whole Indochinese peninsula. Since then, there has been a neutralist movement in Vietnam. How strong it is officials in Washington declined to estimate. In any event, the Gaullist faction in South Vietnam was given as the reason for Gen. Khanh’s move to overthrow the military regime of Gen. Minh.

Much remains to be clarified about the events in Saigon, but the U.S Government is clearly perturbed by today’s development. President Kennedy made a major public attack on the Diem regime, and his associates argued that the fall of that regime was the start of a new and hopeful phase in the war. Now, the new military junta has been replaced after less than three months in power, leaving the Johnson Administration to reappraise a wholly new situation.


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