55. Telegram From the Embassy in Vietnam to the Department of State1

1744. Codel Johnson. VP’s final call on President Diem morning May 13.2

(This not cleared by VP)

VP emphasized to President Diem that he was very impressed with his visit to Viet-Nam and warmth of his reception here. He told President Diem he could feel sure that VP would be strong supporter of Viet-Nam in Washington. He outlined steps which he suggested President Diem take in near future:

Issuance of joint communiqué at conclusion of VP’s visit.3
Quick brief letter replying to President Kennedy’s letter to President Diem. This would be more a letter of acknowledgement than a substantive letter.4
Follow-up letter from President Diem to President Kennedy timed to arrive in Washington with VP Johnson’s return from trip abroad. This would be substantive letter and VP suggested Diem put into this letter his views on additional assistance which he feels Viet-Nam will really need to stem Communist tide in this country. He suggested letter might include reference to possible one hundred thousand increase in armed forces (over 20 thousand increase already agreed to) and measures of economic and social aid. VP advised Diem to work out cost estimate carefully with US officials in Saigon to insure they would be properly supported in Washington.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 033.1100-JO/5-1561. Secret; Priority. According to another copy, this telegram was drafted by Mendenhall and cleared by Nolting. (Washington National Records Center, RG 84, Saigon Embassy Files: FRC 66 A 878, 361.1) Repeated to Hong Kong, Bangkok, and CINCPAC for PolAd.
  2. The meeting took place at 7:30 and lasted for 20 minutes. Another record of the conversation states that the Vice President appeared tired and distracted. (Memorandum of conversation, May 13; ibid., 350 GVN)
  3. For text of the final communiqué, see American Foreign Policy, Current Documents, 1961, pp. 1043-1045.
  4. The text of Diem’s reply, May 15, is in United States-Vietnam Relations, 1945-1967, Book 11. pp. 155- 156.