Saigon Envoy Announces Decision to Exchange Diplomats with Israel

South Vietnamese Ambassador Vu Van Thai announced here today that his Government “has decided to establish full and normal ‘de jure’ diplomatic relations with Israel, as a result of negotiations with Israeli diplomats just concluded in Bangkok. ” The Ambassador said the decision was conveyed to him in an official cable just received by his Embassy from Saigon. He said “this decision resulted from the detailed recent negotiations in Bangkok between Israeli and Vietnamese diplomats. “

Ambasador Thai expressed “great pleasure” at the news and voiced hope that the establishment of diplomatic relations with Israel would “denote the beginning of a larger Israeli program of assistance. ” He recalled his visit to Israel in 1958, the deep impression made upon him by the kibbutzim, and the importance his Government attaches to training by “Nahal, ” the soldier-farmer concept developed in Israel. He cited his country’s “need and desire for Israeli technical assistance and supplies.”

The Ambassador revealed that contacts with Israel for expanded assistance have been developing since July, 1964, and came to a climax after the recent Honolulu conference “where President Johnson visualized and urged a more active Israeli role” in support of Saigon.

Immediately after the Honolulu talks, said the Ambassador, “procedural diplomatic discussions with Israel were undertaken in Bangkok, leading to the decision now reported from Saigon to create full diplomatic relations with Israel.”

The Ambassador also revealed another cable from Saigon, disclosing that his Government, at the end of 1965, accepted an Israeli invitation to train 15 South Vietnamese agricultural experts in Israel.

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