290. Memorandum of Conversation, United States Information Agency, Washington, September 21, 1962, 5 p.m.1

PARTICIPANTS

  • Secretary of State for the Presidency Nguyen Dinh Thuan of Viet-Nam
  • I—Mr. Wilson
  • State: FE—Mr. Wood, Director, Working Group/Viet-Nam
  • IAF—Mr. Moore
[Page 665]

Secretary Thuan paid a brief courtesy call on Mr. Wilson in the course of his Washington visit. The tone of the discussions was set by the nature of the call, but Mr. Wilson did take the occasion to press several points about the situation in Viet-Nam of interest to the Agency.

Foremost was the relationship of the GVN with the international press corps. Mr. Wilson emphasized the necessity of improved relations and the value of organized and regular press briefings to accomplish this. Thuan replied that he was fully aware of the problem as was President Diem, and that such press briefings would hopefully start next month. On the general subject, however, Thuan launched into a lengthy justification of the GVNʼs reactions to recent events arising out of the Sully case (although Sully was not mentioned by name).2 He quoted chapter and verse against the correspondents, citing each instance as proof of their irresponsibility, unreasonableness and immaturity (average age: 24).

Mr. Wilson countered by again stressing the fact that the GVN had nevertheless to live with the international press which created a public image of the country, the situation and the countryʼs leaders world wide. Positively, he made the suggestion that more use be made of press exploitation of Viet Cong defectors. Thuan replied that this was already being done, though only the local Vietnamese press was using these opportunities to best effect. (IAF will follow up on this.)

Mr. Wilson introduced the subject of Thuanʼs general assessment of USIS operations in Viet-Nam. Thuan ducked discussions of this question by talking about U.S. support of mass communications in general. He praised the completion of the 50 kilowatt radio station, saying that with it the GVN hopes to reach Hanoi which had been impossible with previous equipment. Thuan made passing reference to difference in policy with the U.S. over jamming. The GVN had on its own (and particularly before the new 50 kilowatt capability) tried to jam Hanoi; for this, they used former French equipment. Hanoiʼs strong signal often previously drowned out the GVNʼs voice even on some community sets provided by the government, especially in remote and mountainous areas.

Thuan referred to the importance of film production to support this effective visual medium, but went on to make a plea for U.S. support of television for Viet-Nam, which, he said, would bring national events (and Diem) immediately to the attention of the people without the delays necessitated by film processing. Mr. Wilson recalled [Page 666]his discussions with President Diem in Saigon on the subject of television and said that he would make further inquiries about support for television.

After a further exchange of amenities, including Mr. Wilsonʼs assurances of continuing USIS information support for the GVN effort, particularly that affecting the rural population, Secretary Thuan took his leave for another appointment.

  1. Source: Washington National Records Center, RG 306,USIA/IAF Files: FRC 68 A 1415, Vietnam General and Personal. Confidential. Drafted and initialed by Moore on September 25. The meeting was held at the U.S. Information Agency. A “Talking Points” memorandum for this conversation, dated September 20, is ibid., USIA/I/S Files: FRC 68 A 4933, Field Far East (IAF), 1962.
  2. Francois Sully, a correspondent with Newsweek, who was expelled from Vietnam on September 4.