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

947. Deptels 7192 and 735;3 Embtel 944.4 In our view SVN has taken necessary actions qualifying provisional government for recognition [Page 574] and we should proceed promptly to recognize since Malaysia and Thailand have already done so. Clarifying statement on death of Diem and Nhu issued at press conference of Military Committee this morning (see septel).5 While statement perhaps not as candid as we might wish, it provides as much detail as provisional government likely release at this time. Believe that prompt action to reunite Nhu children with their mother provides compensating factor vis-a-vis public opinion.

Following is draft Embassy reply to Foreign Office note contained Embtel 944:

“The Embassy of the United States of America has the honor to acknowledge the receipt of Ministry of Foreign Affairs note no. 4386/ PR dated 5 November 1963, concerning recent events in South Vietnam, the formation and composition of the provisional government, and the policies the provisional government intends to follow in its internal and external relations. For its part the Government of the United States of America shares with the provisional government of the Republic of Vietnam the strong hope that the cordial relations between our two countries will continue as in the past and develop further to our mutual benefit in the future. (Complimentary close.)”

Request Department urgent approval or comment on above draft.6 Suggest Department permit us discretion as to time of delivery of US reply. We will keep Department informed re plans for delivery. On publicity, we do not feel strongly but inclined to think on balance it is best to play announcement of recognition in low key. This perhaps best accomplished by release to press in Saigon after delivery of note.7

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 26 S VIET. Secret; Immediate; Limit Distribution. Received at 4:41 a.m. and passed to the White House at 4:51 a.m.
  2. In telegram 719, November 4, the Department of State asked for the Embassy’s views on U.S recognition of the new government in South Vietnam. The Department specifically asked if the requirements for U.S. recognition had been met and whether an official clarifying statement by the new government on the deaths of Diem and Nhu would make such a recognition easier. (Ibid., POL 16 S VIET)
  3. In telegram 735, November 5, the Department of State reiterated that a clarifying statement concerning the deaths of the Ngo brothers would “conclude definitely this aspect of recent events and be generally helpful outside SVN.” (Ibid.)
  4. In telegram 944, November 6, the Embassy sent the text of a South Vietnamese note of November 5 announcing the abolition of the Diem government and establishment of a provisional government. The note also expressed the new government’s desire for continued good relations with the United States. (Ibid., POL 27 S VIET)
  5. Information Minister Tran Tu Oai stated at a news conference on November 6 that Diem and Nhu died by “accidental suicide.” Oai claimed that they were shot to death when Nhu attempted to grab the pistol of the officer arresting them.
  6. The Department approved the draft in telegram 742 to Saigon, November 6, and instructed the Embassy to deliver it at 7:30 a.m. Saigon time, November 8. The Department also suggested that Lodge inform General Minh in confidence on the evening of November 7 of the impending recognition. (Department of State, Central Files, POL 16 S VIET)
  7. On November 7, the Department of State released a statement of recognition of the new government; see American Foreign Policy: Current Documents, 1963, p. 879.