The uncertain ceasefire in Vietnam was still being punctuated by fierce fighting between Communist and South Vietnamese troops even as U.
The uncertain ceasefire in Vietnam was still being punctuated by fierce fighting between Communist and South Vietnamese troops even as U.S. Vice-President Spiro Agnew arrived in Saigon on (January 30) to discuss "post war relations".
The uncertainty was heightened for about 20 hours on Monday and early Tuesday the North Vietnamese members of the Military Commission refused to leave their aircraft at Saigon airport. They were protesting against the South Vietnamese demand that they fill in entry permits, which they said constituted recognition of the regime of President Nguyen Van Thieu. Early Tuesday morning the North Vietnamese left the plane after formalities ware waived.
South Vietnamese troops, meanwhile were still fighting in several areas. along Highway 1 near Saigon, government troops were engaged in some fierce battles with North Vietnamese and Viet Cong troops.
The number of attacks in South Vietnam since the ceasefire was sighed on Saturday(January 27) has dropped almost in half, but the South Vietnamese say this is because the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese are concentrating on holding he land they now occupy.
Since the ceasefire was signed, almost 300 government troops have been killed and Government estimates of Communist dead have been set as high as 1,700.
SYNOPSIS: Saigon...where United States Vice-President Spiro Agnew arrived Tuesday to discuses post-war relations. He was greeted by the U.S. Ambassador to Saigon, Ellsworth Bunker, but the South Vietnamese government gave a cool reception, sending only its acting foreign minister to meet Mr. Agnew. Saigon is the first stop on a seven-nation tour of Southeast Asia for the vice-president. The trip is apparently designed to assure the southeast Asian leaders of continuing U.S. interest after the end of an active military role.
Security was tight as Mr. Agnew arrived, and armed military police surrounded the Saigon airfield on Monday as North Vietnamese members of the military ceasefire commission refused to leave their plane, for 20 hours until South Vietnamese immigration formalities were waived. The North Vietnamese said that signing official papers would amount to recognition of the South Vietnamese Government's authority.
Meanwhile, South Vietnamese government troops, North Vietnamese and Viet Cong soldiers clashed repeatedly in direct contravention of the ceasefire agreement. Just off Highway 1 near Saigon these government troops moved into the jungle to flush out communist troops. In a five hour battle, the South Vietnamese claimed the Communists fired more than four hundred rockets and mortar bombs into a hamlet. The South Vietnamese called up armour.
Since the ceasefire was formally signed on Saturday there has been fierce fighting between government troops backed by M-48 tanks, and Communist troops near Saigon.
In the two days immediately after the ceasefire, three hundred South Vietnamese troops and an estimated seventeen hundred Communist troops were killed. There has been no estimate of civilian casualties.