The President on November 3 designated Gen. J. Lawton Collins as Special United States Representative in Viet-Nam with the personal rank of Ambassador, to undertake a diplomatic mission of limited duration. He will coordinate the operations of all U.S. agencies in that country.
General Collins will proceed immediately to Saigon, where he will confer with Ambassador Donald R. Heath prior to the latter's already scheduled return to the United States for reassignment following 4½ years of distinguished service in Indochina. For the duration of this assignment General Collins will relinquish his other duties, including that of U.S. representative on the Military Committee of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
Since the conclusion of hostilities in Indochina, the U.S. Government has been particularly concerned over developments in Viet-Nam, a country ravaged by8 years of war, artificially divided into armistice zones, and confronted by dangerous forces threatening its independence and security.
The U.S. Government is fully aware of the immense tasks facing the Government of Viet-Nam in its effort to achieve solidarity, internal security, and economic rehabilitation. The United States has already played an important role in the evacuation of hundreds of thousands of refugees from Communist rule in North Viet-Nam.
Moreover, as the President told Prime Minister Ngo Dinh Diem in his letter of October 23d, U.S. representatives in Viet-Nam have been instructed to consider with the Vietnamese authorities how a program of American aid given directly to Viet-Nam can best assist that country. General Collins will explore this matter with Prime Minister Ngo Dinh Diem and his Government in order to help them resolve their present critical problems and to supplement measures adopted by the Vietnamese themselves.
In executing his temporary mission, General Collins will maintain close liaison with the French Commissioner General, Gen. Paul Ely, for the purpose of exchanging views on how best, under existing circumstances, the freedom and welfare of Viet-Nam can be safeguarded.
Source: U.S. Congress, Senate, Committee on Foreign Relations, 90th Congress, 1st Session, Background Information Relating to Southeast Asia and Vietnam (3d Revised Edition) (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, July 1967), p. 90.
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