113. Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs (Bundy) to Secretary of State Rusk 1

SUBJECT

  • Viet-Nam Sitrep as of 1000 April 5

1. General Situation:

Saigon—The situation in Saigon is apparently quiet although press ticker this morning indicates a demonstration was broken up near the Buddhist Institute by Vietnamese troops which employed rifle fire over the heads of the demonstrators. Curfew has been extended from 2100 hours to 0500 hours.

Danang—ARVN troops which are unidentified, regional and popular forces, and “Struggle Forces” and civilians are reported manning roadblocks from the air base into the city of Danang. No estimate of the number of these forces has been received. Three Marine battalions have been air lifted from Saigon and are presently located on the Danang air base. There is no indication that these forces have attempted to leave the area of the air base. I Corps commander General Chuan reportedly made two trips to the air base to confer with Prime Minister Ky during the day of April 5. Late ticker items state that Ky has now returned to Saigon, after broadcasting in Danang that he was now convinced the city was not in Communist hands. General Chuan has told newsmen that Prime Minister Ky, prior to his departure for Saigon had assured him that his forces [Page 326] would not attempt to leave the air base, and as a result General Chuan had ordered a Ranger battalion, which had been deployed to defend Danang, back to its post. Posters have been put up in Danang signed by General Chuan stating that the situation is in hand, that troops are to return to their camps, and civilian demonstrators should stay home.

Hue—A small demonstration of about 600 students took place in front of MACV billets in Hue April 5 demanding the removal of barbed wire barricades which were impeding traffic on a main route. The barbed wire was removed and the demonstration quietly dispersed. On the orders of the commanding general of the III MAF, the MACV senior advisor to the I Division has ordered the removal of all advisors to the I Division and has informed the Division commander General Nhuan that he is withdrawing all American fixed wing and rotary air craft support for the Division. Consul General Corcoran in Hue has stated that the removal of the MACV advisors may provoke hostile action on the part of the Struggle Forces toward American civilians in Hue and Quang Tri and is, therefore, ordering all American civilians with the exception of Consulate and CAS staff to be evacuated.

Nha Trang—Press ticker items report the USIS library and adjoining Vietnamese Information Services offices have been sacked and burned in Nha Trang. No confirmation has been received from the Embassy.

Dalat—The situation in Dalat remains uncertain, although late press ticker indicates that the Government has regained control of the Dalat radio station.

2. Ky-Buddhist Negotiations:

Embassy Saigon reports that Ky has been actively negotiating with the top Buddhists including Tri Quang and Thien Minh. Ky reportedly gave Minh a letter with a GVN promise to convene an immediate political conference to consider: a) the establishment of a constitution-drafting council, or b) the establishment of a constitutional assembly.2 The Buddhists stated that with this letter they would try to calm the situation.

3. Over-all Outlook:

The negotiations which Ky has been engaged in with General Chuan and with the Buddhists, together with the avoidance so far of any armed engagements in the Danang area, give rise to some cautious optimism that a settlement satisfactory to the Government and the Struggle Forces may emerge. Agreement allegedly reached between Ky and the Buddhists would appear to represent substantial compromise on the part of the Buddhists. At the same time, it is clear that tensions have not [Page 327] been substantially reduced and the possibility for an outbreak of violence either between military units or between the GVN and civilian demonstrators remains very real.3

  1. Source: Department of State, S/S-VN Briefing Books: Lot 70 D 207, Vietnam, Mar-Aug ʼ66. Secret. Drafted by J.J. Helble of FE/VN.
  2. In telegram 3746, April 5, Lodge reported that Thieu had shown him a statement he was issuing that announced the convening within 1 week or 10 days of a National Political Congress. (Ibid., Central Files, POL 15 VIET S)
  3. Bundy forwarded this memorandum to Rusk on April 5 under a covering note in which he stated: “My net judgment is that the worst possible outcomes have been avoided, but that Ky essentially capitulated to the combination of local Buddhist sentiment represented by General Chuan. I would guess that this would seriously damage his position.” (Ibid., Bundy Files: Lot 85 D 240, WPB Chron)