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Vietnam ceasefire



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VIETNAM CEASEFIRE

\ Press Statement, E. G. Whitlam, Canberra, 24 January 1973

j The Prime Minister, M r Gough Whitlam, made the following statement this after­ ! noon welcoming President Nixon’s announcement of a ceasefire agreement in j Vietnam. He said:

I am confident all Australians will rejoice at President Nixon's historic an­ nouncement. The Australian Government greets his statement with full -approval and the deepest satisfaction. I personally extend the warmest wishes to President Nixon on an achievement which establishes him firmly in the foremost ranks of modern statesmenship.

The conclusion of a ceasfire agreement is a hopeful first step towards the goal of an eventual reconciliation between the contending forces in Vietnam. Many months of patient and difficult negotiation will be required before progress to­ wards this goal can be achieved. The divisions caused by years of hatred, bitterness

and mutual suspicion will add to the difficulties Of an already complex task. As the fighting recedes, opportunities will emerge for relief and reconstruction work in the devastated areas of Vietnam—North and South— and in Indo-China as a whole. It is in this field that the Australian Government sees itself as making a particular contribution.

It is still too soon for detailed aid programmes and machinery to have been worked out but as I agreed with Mr Kirk in Wellington at the weekend, Aus­ tralia, along with New Zealand, is prepared to take part in an international rehabilitation programme throughout Indo-China. We stand ready to subscribe on a generous basis to international efforts to restore and develop all the ravaged countries of Indo-China. Indeed, it is to be hoped that, as the energies of the people, particularly in South and North Vietnam, become more and more engaged in the tasks of peaceful reconstruction, so there will be a movement from antagonism to reconciliation and co-operation throughout the whole area.