34. Letter From President Kennedy to President Diem 1

Dear Mr. President: I wish on the occasion of your second inauguration to offer to you and to the Vietnamese people my personal congratulations and those of the American people. We have watched with sympathy your courageous leadership during your country’s struggle to perfect its independence and its efforts to create a better life for its people. The United States stands firmly with you in this struggle and in these efforts. The recent treaty of amity and economic relations2 and the inauguration of the Saigon-Bien Hoa highway are symbols of the cooperation between our countries.

The progress made under your leadership has caused the Communists to step up their campaign of hatred, terror and destruction by which they seek to further their purposes in Asia. I am encouraged that the Communist-instigated guerrilla war failed to disrupt the elections and that in the midst of a perilous struggle your country was able to conduct a political campaign with frank exchange of opinion. Your leadership has again been nourished and strengthened by the mandate of your people. This augurs well.

I look toward a future in which VietNam will be able to pursue the aspirations of its people in peace and freedom. I do not minimize the difficulties your country must pass through, but I am confident because I know that as always in history the cooperation of free men will ultimately triumph over tyranny.

It is fitting that Ambassador Durbrow should be present on this occasion to deliver my message to you, for he has worked tirelessly and with understanding for the common good of our countries. I look forward to his return, when I shall have opportunity to hear from him first hand of his services in your country.

Sincerely yours,

John F. Kennedy 3
  1. Source: Washington National Records Center, RG 84, Saigon Embassy Files FRC 66 A 878, 350 GVN Elections. No drafting or clearance information is given on the source text. Attached to the source text was a brief covering note from Durbrow to Diem dated April 29. The text of the letter was transmitted to Saigon in telegram 1306, April 26. (Department of State, Presidential Correspondence Lot 66 D 476)
  2. For text of this treaty, signed at Saigon April 3, 1961, see 5 UST 2400.
  3. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.