• Short Summary

    Italian police mounted a major security operation as President Nguyen Van Thieu of South Vietnam started his visit to Rome today (Sunday).

  • Description

    Italian police mounted a major security operation as President Nguyen Van Thieu of South Vietnam started his visit to Rome today (Sunday).

    At least 200 police stood guard at Rome's military airport of Ciampino as the President's Air Vietnam Boeing 707 arrived. About 100 South Vietnamese students waved welcoming banners and flags.

    In central Rome, the previous day, 5,000 students and extreme left-wing youths held a protest march. Scores of security guards were out in the streets and there was no violence. There was a similar demonstration in Milan.

    During his visit, President Thieu is to have an audience with Pope Paul. His trip was preceded by three days of left-wing protests.

    SYNOPSIS: At Rome's Ciampino airport, tight security was in force on Sunday as a South Vietnamese airliner brought President Nguyen Van Thieu on a two day visit. News of his arrival had already provoked three days of left-wing demonstrations against President Thieu.

    The authorities had allowed about a hundred flag waving South Vietnamese students and Catholic priests to welcome President Thieu at the airport. The President responded to their banner waving by greeting them personally. A strong guard -- part of the two-hundred police on duty at the airport -- kept close to him at all times. The President was arriving from a week of talks with President Nixon in the United States. In Rome, his programme was to include audience with Pope Paul.

    The previous day in the centre of Rome, the demonstrations against President Thieu's visit reached a climax. Groups of young people and students, described by the police as extreme leftwingers, voiced their protest, shouting slogans and waving red flags. On this occasion, the demonstrators were probably outnumbered by the security forces at the outset. But they formed up into a column, estimated to be about five-thousand strong, and tried in vain to march on the South Vietnamese embassy.

    In Milan, there was a similar demonstration. Here, since there was no South Vietnamese diplomatic mission, the marchers headed for the American consulate.

    Security was again tight. In the days preceding President Thieu's arrival, dynamite had been discovered in the garden of the South vietnamese embassy in Rome, and the flat formerly occupied by a Saigon diplomat had been set on fire. President Thieu's visit has been described as private, and has been given low-key treatment by the Italian government.

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    Reuters - Source to be Verified
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