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ON THIS DAY

23 January 1973: Nixon announces Vietnam peace deal. The US president, Richard Nixon, has appeared on national television to announce “peace with honour” in Vietnam. Statements issued simultaneously in Washington and Hanoi confirmed the peace deal was signed in Paris at 1230 local time, bringing to an end America’s longest war. The ceasefire will begin at midnight Hanoi time on Saturday, 27 January, monitored by an international force made up of troops from Canada, Poland, Hungary and Indonesia. President Nixon’s speech from the Oval office at the White House was broadcast on national radio and television. He said: “Throughout the years of negotiations, we have insisted on peace with honour, I set forth the goals that we considered essential for peace with honour. “In the settlement that has now been agreed to, all the conditions that I laid down then have been met.” The conditions include the release of prisoners of war within 60 days and all American forces to be withdrawn within the same time period. An international conference will be held within 30 days, probably in Vienna, to guarantee the peace. American forces have been involved in the conflict in Vietnam for more than a decade. In 1967, there were 500,000 American troops deployed in Vietnam. For the people of South Vietnam, the president had this message: “By your courage, by your sacrifice, you have won the precious right to determine your own future and you have developed the strength to defend that right.”We look forward to working with you in future, friends in peace as we have been allies in war.” (Source: BBC)

24 January 1986: Leon Brittan quits over Westland. Trade and Industry Secretary Leon Brittan has become the second cabinet minister to resign over the Westland affair. Two weeks ago, Defence Secretary Michael Heseltine walked out of his cabinet post claiming his views on the future of the helicopter company were being ignored. Yesterday, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, revealed in a Commons statement that Mr Brittan had authorised the leaking of a letter which was critical of Mr Heseltine. The letter, from the Solicitor General, accused Mr Heseltine of “material inaccuracies” in his campaign for a European consortium rescue package for Westland. The prime minister and the rest of the Cabinet have been backing a deal with an American firm, Sikorsky Fiat. Calls for Mr Brittan to go have been mounting. Last night, he faced them from his own party, at a meeting of the influential Conservative backbench 1922 Committee. This afternoon, Mr Brittan went to see Mrs Thatcher and offer his resignation. He left Westminster stony-faced and went straight to Kings Cross to catch a train to his Richmond constituency. He said nothing to reporters gathered at the station – the news of his resignation was announced only after the train had left. Mr Brittan spoke to journalists on arrival in York. He said: “I think that any minister must have, if he is to work effectively, the full confidence of his colleagues. This morning I made inquiries and I felt that I did not have that confidence and I therefore asked to see the prime minister to tender my resignation.” In a statement, Mrs Thatcher said she had tried to persuade Mr Brittan to stay in the Cabinet. She hoped it would not be long before he returned to high office to continue his ministerial career. Labour leader Neil Kinnock said: “Mrs Thatcher has got a lot of answering to do to questions that she has dodged or avoided or ignored in the past several weeks.” (Source: BBC)

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