fifty years ago July 31, 1969 Archives

From the Archives (July 31, 1969): Nixon visits Saigon

The American President Mr. Richard Nixon paid a fleeting five and three-quarter hour visit to Viet Nam to-day [July 30] which included nearly four hours of consultations with Government leaders in Saigon. He was the first American President to visit the capital city [Saigon] since the war started. Mr. Nixon, accompanied by his wife, flew in from Bangkok and was taken to the Presidential Palace in Central Saigon by a fleet of helicopters. Amid the strictest security precautions Saigon has ever seen, Mr. Nixon had one-and-a-half-hour-long talks with President Nguyen Van Thieu, a working lunch and 75 minutes in private talks with Vice-President Nguyen Cao Ky. Just before leaving, Mr. Nixon delivered a speech on the steps of Independence Palace in which he said: “We have gone as far as we can or should go in opening the door to peace and it is time for the other side to respond.” Twenty minutes before the President arrived in Saigon, all international telecommunications were cut off and were not restored until well after he had left. In his speech, which was broadcast live over South Viet Namese Radio, Mr. Nixon said Mr. Thieu’s latest initiative to hold elections with the Viet Cong was an offer “as generous as any ever made in the history of warfare.”

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