Tran Thien Khiem

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An Army of the Republic of Vietnam general, Tran Thien Khiem was involved in suppressing the November 1960 coup against Diem,[1] overthrowing Diem with the Military Revolutionary Council (MRC) coup of November 1963 and overthrowing the MRC in a January 1964 coup.

Commander of the Saigon area, parts of which later became a Special Military District as well as III Corps tactical zone, he did not believe he had been given enough credit by the Military Revolutionary Council and "Big" Minh, so joined Nguyen Khanh's subsequent coup.[2]

Khanh, Minh and Khiem formed a triumvirate, althugh Khanh was reported "ill" a week later. Nguyen Xuan Oanh, an economist, was then named Deputy Prime Minister, over Buddhist calls for all-civilian government.

Khiem was sent away to be Ambassador to the U.S., a prestigious post but well out of the power struggle. [3]

He came back to South Vietnam in May 1968, and became Minister of the interior under Thieu, and then co-prime minister. While his history did not encourage trust in his allegiance, he seemed useful. By June, however, he was building his own political organization, and giving relatives key jobs. Khiem became Prime Minister in 1969, with many allegations of his group's financial dealings, including possible drug involvement. [4] Eventually, Thieu and Khiem began countercharging over financial matters, but really as means of political infighting.

In the preliminary discussions of the Paris Peace Talks, Le Duc Tho had originally demanded demanded the "Thieu-Ky-Huong" group be replaced as part of non-negotiable preconditions for negotiations. [5] Once Khiem replaced Huong, the North Vietnamese demand changed to removal of "Thiu-Ky-Khiem".[6]


  1. Moyar, Mark (2006), Triumph Forsaken, Cambridge University Press, p 110
  2. Karnow, Stanley (1983), Vietnam, a History, Viking Press, p. 336
  3. Karnow, p. 381
  4. McCoy, Alfred W.; Cathleen B. Read & Leonard P., II Adams (1972), The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia, Harper Colophon,pp. 205-210
  5. Henry Kissinger (1973), Ending the Vietman War: A history of America's Involvement in and Extrication from the Vietanam War, Simon & Schuster, p. 89
  6. Kissinger, p. 115n