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U.S. Warns Diem on Vietnamese Buddhist Crisis

June 13, 1963 - The United States has warned President Ngo Dinh Diem (pictured) of South Vietnam that it will publicly condemn his treatment of the Buddhists unless he takes prompt action to meet their grievances. American diplomats in Saigon have told the Vietnamese in the bluntest terms that Buddhist disaffection could become politically disastrous and that Washington wishes to dissociate itself from President Diem’s policies. President Diem can now ease tensions over Buddhist charges of discrimination only through dramatic measures of redress, they believe. In Washington’s view, the ability of the Saigon Government to inspire confidence and respect in rural regions is essential to victory in the guerrilla war against the Communist Viet Cong. The dispute with the Buddhists is looked upon in Washington as the worst blow in a long time to the Government’s popularity. About 70% of the South Vietnamese are Buddhists. President Diem is a Roman Catholic, and he heads a Government dominated by Catholics.


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