fifty years ago From the issue of December 25, there having been no issue on December 26, 1967 Archives

Johnson endorses Pope’s call on Viet Nam issue

President Johnson told Pope Paul in a 68-minute meeting last night [December 23, Vatican City] that the United States was willing to under take peace talks with Hanoi at any time. Coming out of his audience with the Pope, Mr. Johnson told newsmen that the Pontiff had suggested to him “the principle of mutual restraint.” If this principle would be accepted by both sides there would be a “rapid and solid progress forward to peace.” “The U.S. is ready any day to exchange talks and meetings for the knife and grenade,” the President said, adding, “It was a good meeting with the Pope and I hope it bears fruit.” The President then flew from the Vatican by helicopter to Rome’s Ciampino airport to continue his flight home. The President did not announce any new concessions on Viet Nam nor did he say whether he had accepted the offer the Pope made last week to mediate in the Viet Nam war. A statement issued by the Vatican after the meeting said that Mr. Johnson had “confirmed to the Holy Father the intention of his country and himself to seek a solution of the conflict.” The statement said the Pope had presented to Mr. Johnson “some requests and advanced suggestions on ways which according to him, would be most ideal for the solution of the conflict”. In his remarks immediately after leaving the Pontiff, Mr. Johnson told newsmen, “His Holiness suggested the principle of mutual restraint.... We would be willing to stop the bombings and proceed promptly to serious and productive discussions. A total end to the violence would be our urgent objective. “We agree with His Holiness that an honourable settlement of this dispute is still possible. We will agree to any proposal that would substitute the word and the vote for the knife and the grenade in bringing honourable peace to Viet Nam.” He said that he would be keeping closely in touch with the Pope in the days ahead and with others who are working to help end the war.

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Printable version | Aug 12, 2020 9:00:50 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/archives/johnson-endorses-popes-call-on-viet-nam-issue/article22276862.ece

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