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1966: Hawaii hosts US-Vietnamese summit

Talks between the US and South Vietnamese leaderships have opened in Hawaii.

President Lyndon B Johnson said the purpose of the unexpected summit was to review the economic, social and political conditions in Vietnam with South Vietnamese Prime Minister Air Vice-Marshal Nguyen Cao Ky and his Chief of State Nguyen Van Thieu.

The trip - which Mr Johnson only announced three days ago - coincides with the Washington hearings of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, which have been highly critical of America's role in Indochina.

A dozen senior officials have joined the President in Honolulu - although some are wanted for questioning by the Foreign Affairs Committee - for his first visit outside the American continent since he took office in 1964.

Search for peace

In an opening address at the three-day conference Premier Cao Ky described the social reforms in his country but emphasised military strength was the only language the Communist forces understood.

The American Commander in Vietnam, General William Westmoreland told a press conference bombing North Vietnam was important though supplementary to the strategy in the south of the peninsula.

President Johnson was keen to adopt a less belligerent tone in the tranquil surroundings of Camp Smith, overlooking Pearl Harbour.

He accepted the difficulties of negotiating from weakness but explained social, political and economic reforms would improve conditions in South Vietnam sufficiently to cause the collapse of guerrilla movements.

Although both leaders spoke of the need to continue the search for peace Mr Cao Ky underlined South Vietnam's commitment to war as long as necessary and refusal to surrender to or compromise with the Communists.

Mr Johnson's condemnation of those who "counsel retreat in Vietnam" attracted criticism from the anti-war faction in Washington, especially Democratic Senator for Oregon Wayne Morse.

In Context
The next day the US and South Vietnamese leaderships released the Declaration of Honolulu.

In it they proclaimed five joint goals: to defend against aggression, to bring social reform to South Vietnam, to bring self-government to South Vietnam, to ensure the country was free from hunger, ignorance and disease and to continue the unending quest for peace.

South Vietnam made a separate declaration of purpose calling for the defeat of the Vietcong, the eradication of social injustice and economic stabilisation.

They also refused to negotiate with the Communist National Liberation Front, which they described as a criminal organisation killing 22,000 civilians.

President Johnson agreed to send Vice-President Humphrey to Saigon for further talks.


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