53. Editorial Note

Following Rostow’s memorandum to the President, April 12 (Document 27), planning began on the schedule for Vice President Johnson’s trip to Asia. Initially, the Embassy in Saigon wanted him to arrive in Viet-Nam in time for Diem’s inauguration on April 29, but this was not feasible. By early May, plans for the trip included visits to Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Thailand, India, and Pakistan, beginning May 9 and ending May 24. On May 5, President Kennedy announced at his press conference that he had asked the Vice President to undertake a special fact-finding mission to Asia. For text of the announcement and related questions and answers, see Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: John F. Kennedy, 1961, pages 354-362.

The Vice President, accompanied by Mrs. Johnson and President Kennedy’s sister and brother-in-law, Jean and Stephen Smith, arrived in Saigon at 6:40 p.m. on May 11 and proceeded directly to the Gia Long Palace, the official government guest house. That evening the Vice President attended a dinner hosted by Ambassador Nolting, who had presented his credentials the previous day. On May 12, he held extensive conversations with President Diem starting at 8 a.m. followed by a day of ceremonial visits which ended with a dinner in his honor hosted by Diem. On May 13, the Vice President paid a brief farewell call on Diem at 8 a.m. before departing for Manila at 9. The documentation that follows presents the most significant aspects of his visit to Saigon. For a report to President Kennedy on the whole trip, see Document 60. Documentation on the planning for the trip, including briefing papers, schedules, records of conversations, and biographic materials is in Department of State, Conference Files: Lot 65 D 366, CFs 1875-1883; ibid., Central File 033.1100-JO; and the Johnson Library.