The latest round of Peace Talks begin this week in Paris, bringing with them renewed hope of an end to war in Indo-China.
GV Workers in paddy field PAN to road
SV Convoy of troops along road
GV Workers in paddy-field (2 shots)
SV Ducks across road
CU ZOOM OUT..ducks in market-place
SV Women shoppers in market
CU Fish in pan ZOOM OUT TO woman filleting
SV Newspaper stand and people reading Nixon and Peace Talks headlines (2 shots)
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Background: The latest round of Peace Talks begin this week in Paris, bringing with them renewed hope of an end to war in Indo-China.
But to the people of South Vietnam, Washington and Paris are far away -- not only geographically, but also in terms of peace. In 1972 when the world spoke of the war "running down" and of peace being "at hand", South Vietnamese military forces suffered their greatest casualties on record. Apart from the countless civilians killed and wounded, the armed forces officially lost 27,000 killed in action and several times that figure wounded and missing.
As the talk of peace increases, North Vietnamese forces around Saigon and especially in the Mekong Delta south of the city, increase their efforts to obtain as much territory as possible before a ceasefire is declared.
In addition to their military troubles, the South Vietnamese -- in common with the rest of Indo-China -- have just suffered from a severe drought that has left them with the poorest rice harvest for many years.
Despite these difficulties, the army and people of South Vietnam appear to be keeping up their morale. Bulletins from Radio Saigon are still guarded about the prospects for peace, but soldiers on patrol along the highways often gaily call out "Hoa-Binh" (pron. hwah-bin) or "peace" and make the Vee-fingered peace sign. The drought has forced food prices up, but food still appears to be plentiful. Numerous flocks of ducks swim amongst the paddy-fields, and duck often figures on Saigon menus.
SYNOPSIS: While the world focuses its attention on the latest round of peace talks in Paris, the South Vietnamese themselves seem far removed from the activities of Henry Kissinger and Le Duc Tho. Troops patrolling the Mekong Delta south of Saigon shout "Peace" as they drive past, while Radio Saigon bulletins suggest that the war will go on.
For farmers in the Delta, the problem of food is the main preoccupation. Roaming Vietcong are not their only enemy -- they have also suffered from a severe drought, and the poorest crops for many years. But rice is not the only product of the paddy-fields.....
Ducks are plentiful, and often appear in the market-places and menus of Saigon and the surrounding Delta towns. Despite the drought, food-supplies appear to be abundant, although expensive. For the time being, the problem of what to have for the next meal is more important then Washington or Paris.....
Fish are another useful protein supplement from the numerous streams and pools of the Delta...
But developments in Paris are still closely watched, and the chances of peace discussed in every market-place. Since the last-minute failure of the talks in December, however, the South Vietnamese are cautious of making optimistic plans for the future....