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Friday, 8 May 1970

Mr McMAHON - First, if I may give the honourable gentleman the background of the United States and Vietnamese operations in Svay Rieng province - that is, the Parrot's Beak and Fish Hook areas - and later in the San River area immediately opposite Pleiku the facts are that for some time now, according to intelligence reports, it has been thought that there would be renewed hostility in terms of high point operations in the northern provinces of South Vietnam. Only yesterday we received a report that a largescale high point operation had, in fact, taken place. Similarly, too, mere have been largescale deployment operations in the Mu Gia area and in other parts of Vietnam. The whole trend of events has been one of a redeployment of North Vietnamese regiments. This supports the theory that high point operations will take place. In Laos the North Vietnamese have moved further south than ever before and have in fact occupied the town of Attopeu which is very close to the Cambodian border and, according to the latest reports, they have moved even further south. In Cambodia, North Vietnam and Indo China the forces have surrounded villages and administrative centres. There is no doubt that these operations are combined with those in Laos and South Vietnam. In fact, from captured documents we know that these operations are co-ordinated and are intended to help the North Vietnamese and the Vietcong in their operations in South Vietnam.

Now, as to the United States and South Vietnamese purpose in entering the 3 areas 1 have just mentioned, primarily and fundamentally it is with the objective of saving the lives of American, South Vietnamese and free world forces there. But it also has a secondary objective, and that is to ensure that during the forthcoming months the supply depots existing there are destroyed and cannot be used for attacks into the Hi and IV Corps areas of South Vietnam. As to our own purpose, we have made it clear on a number of occasions that what we want is freedom and independence and the right of these countries to determine their own future. On the contrary, it is the policy of the North Vietnamese and the Vietcong that there should be a coalition government in Vietnam not elected but forced upon the people by the North Vietnamese. The secondary policy of the North Vietnamese is that American and all other allied troops should be withdrawn, although it is not their intention to withdraw the North Vietnamese troops or lo pacify the Vietcong. In other words, their intentions are destructive; our intentions are to ensure the freedom of the 3 free countries of the Indo-China peninsula.

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