Following a Government Council decision, President Ho Chi Minh took over the foreign affairs portfolio. The same day, in a “Letter to Farmers” in the Ministry of Agriculture’s Piece of Land newspaper, the President said: “We have two important duties to fulfill now: famine relief in the North and fighting our enemy in the South.”
File photo of President Ho Chi Minh
The President sent an appeal to the French Congress and Government saying: “Vietnamese and French have suffered a lot from the war and a lot of their blood has been spilt. I love my country and compatriots as well as France and the French people. Therefore, for the benefit of both the Vietnamese and French, I call on the French Congress and Government to take measures to restore the situation as it was before November 20, 1946, and cooperate with the Vietnamese people to execute the Provisional Agreement and build a sustainable friendly relationship between the two countries.
The same day, in an appeal to the United Nations, he said: “Our people solemnly announce their sincere desire for peace, but our people are also determined to fight to the last to protect our sacred rights and interests – our territorial integrity and our independence.
“Our foreign policies will be carried out based on the following principles: 1. In its relationship with Laos and Cambodia, Vietnam respects their independence and want to cooperate with them on the basis of absolute equality between independent countries; 2. In its relationship with democratic countries, Vietnam is willing to deal with them through an open and cooperative policy…”
The same day, the President received the head of the Bureau of Asian Affairs of the US Department of State, who arrived in Hanoi. He also met Bernard Fall, a reporter from Paris-Saigon-Hanoi, whom he told: “Our compatriots and I sincerely want to achieve peace. We do not want wars. We want to avoid war in any case … Vietnam needs to be reconstructed and does not want to become a place to bury dead bodies…
“But if a country imposes a war on us, we will have measures to confront it … France has a powerful military and if a war occurs, it will be very terrible, but the Vietnamese people are resigned to any loss except the loss of freedom … Both France and Vietnam should not harm themselves in a devastating war and it is very hard for a country to reconstruct itself from the rubble after a war.”
Speaking at the ninth conference of the Party’s central executive committee, the president said: “The higher position a politician holds, the calmer he should be … Our criticism must help consolidate the international solidarity, not be aimed at speaking ill of each other … Our Party and people should love and show gratitude to peoples of countries who sympathize with our country. We should not be excessively worried about some differences of opinions with them.”
By Duong Trung Quoc* and his assistants
*The author is a historian and member of the National Assembly