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    U.S. President Lyndon Johnson delivered a forceful defense of his policies in Vietnam before a?

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    "The road to peace could go from deeds to discussions or it would start with discussions and to deeds. We are ready to take either route. We are ready to move on both of them. But reciprocity must be the fundamental principal of any reduction in hostilities. The United States cannot and will not reduce its activity unless and until there is some reduction from the other side. (APPLAUSE).

    "We will negotiate a reduction of the bombing whenever the government of North Vietnam is ready...and there are almost innumerable avenues of communication by which the government of North Vietnam can make their readiness known. To this date and this hour, there has been no sign of that readiness. Yet we must and we will keep on trying.

    "So let me conclude by saying this: I so much wish that it were within my power to assure that all those in Hanoi could hear one simple message: America is committed to the defense of South Vietnam until an honourable peace can be negotiated. (APPLAUSE).

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    Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved

    Background: U.S. President Lyndon Johnson delivered a forceful defense of his policies in Vietnam before a joint session of the Tennessee state legislature on Wednesday (March 15). The president defended the bombing of North Vietnam as military necessary to make the infiltration of men and supplies into South Vietnam more costly for North Vietnam. He said the United States would not stop bombing or reduce its military efforts without some "reciprocity" from North Vietnam. He said the U.S. remained ready at any time to seek peace, but very forcefully warned North Vietnam that the United States was committed to the defense of South Vietnam.

    Mr. Johnson announced that Henry Cabot Lodge was stepping down as Ambassador to South Vietnam and would be replaced by Ellsworth Bunker, the present U.S. Ambassador to the Organization of American States. He also announced that he was sending additional " top - flight " military personnel to assist the U.S. commander in Vietnam and a special presidential deputy to oversee pacification efforts.

    Our film contains excerpts of Mr. Johnson's speech as shown below. Immediately before the first sentence quoted, Mr. Johnson indicated that the United States did not necessarily seek to reduce the warfare before starting talks.

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