Cable from George Ball to Ambassador Lodge on Situation in South Vietnam 22 September 1963

Source: The Pentagon Papers, Gravel Edition, Volume 2, p. 749

STATE 458, 22 September 1963


Understand desire for guidance expressed your 577. Pending further review of situation by President which will follow your consultation with McNamara and Taylor we wish to give you following interim guidance:

1. The United States intends to continue its efforts to assist the Vietnamese people in their struggle against the Viet Cong.
2. Recent events have put in question the possibility of success in these efforts unless there can be important improvements in the government of South Vietnam.
3. It is the policy of the United States to bring about such improvements. Further specific guidance on your meeting with Diem being developed here and will be subject further consultation with you. In any event the President believes object of this meeting should be to increase your authority and leverage with Diem government. In meantime CAP 63516 still represents Washington's current thinking on specifics. A possible Presidential letter to Diem is in preparation and will be forwarded for your comments before a decision on delivery.

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