January 4, 1968 – A Dean Rusk News Conference –
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Secretary of State Dean Rusk, giving a news conference on January 4, 1968. Giving a detailed break down of the previous years events involving the State Department, Rusk discusses our ever-expanding role in Vietnam as well as developments in Southeast Asia in general.
He first brings up the tense situation in Cambodia and Prince Sihanouk and then switches over to talking about the latest statement from the North Vietnamese Foreign Minister, bringing up issues from the State Department of “what did he say” and “what did he mean?” with reference to the contents of the statement. He then brought up a statement made by President Johnson during his visit to San Antonio, Texas regarding stopping all naval and aerial bombardment of North Vietnam if it would lead to productive discussions. He added the assumption that, while discussions proceeded, North Vietnam would not take advantage of the bombing cessation or limitation. Rusk indicated this remained the position of the U.S. and the question was whether or not this meant there would be an increasing compatibility between the statements made by the two sides. Rusk didn’t elaborate whether or not there was. But he did say there were serious violations of a ceasefire by the North Vietnamese and Vietcong during the Holidays.
Rusk’s statement then switched to the Middle East where he said the goal was still peace, along with his hopes for a treaty banning the spread of nuclear weapons.
The News conference continued with reporters asking questions, primarily surrounding the situation in Southeast Asia and the developing story in Cambodia. Questions were asked over the possibility of a Geneva-styled conference and the U.S. taking steps to insure the neutrality of the country. Rusk indicated a willingness on the part of the U.S. for a conference on Southeast Asia in general, including Laos as well as Cambodia and North and South Vietnam, but for the moment wasn’t seeing a reciprocation on the parts of the Vietnamese. In essence, everything up in the air and on the table – and the war continued.
Here is an edited-for-time recap of the press conference given on January 3, 1968.