Vietnamese general celebrates Dien Bien Phu

19th April 2004, Comments 0 comments

HANOI, April 19 (AFP) - Fifty years after masterminding a decisive victory over French forces at Dien Bien Phu, Vietnamese General Vo Nguyen Giap has returned to the site of his greatest military triumph.

HANOI, April 19 (AFP) - Fifty years after masterminding a decisive victory over French forces at Dien Bien Phu, Vietnamese General Vo Nguyen Giap has returned to the site of his greatest military triumph.

The frail 92-year-old, who is second only to Vietnamese Communist Party founding father Ho Chi Minh as the most revered figure in Vietnam's recent history, began his four-day visit on Saturday.

The trip, which came a decade after his last visit to the city, 500 kilometres (310 miles) northwest of Hanoi, was part of celebrations marking the 50th anniversary of the battle.

On Sunday Giap paid his respects at a cemetery containing the remains of some of the estimated 10,000 Vietnamese soldiers who were killed during the 56 days of bitter fighting. He also met war veterans and local officials.

Because of his advanced age, the general, whose only military lesson came from an old encyclopeadia entry describing the mechanism of hand grenades, is unlikely to attend the main celebrations next month to mark the victory.

The fighting began on March 13, 1954, and on May 7 shell-shocked survivors of the French garrison hoisted the white flag to signal the end to one of the fiercest battles of the 20th century.

Around 3,000 French troops were killed or were reported missing and 10,000 were captured. The defeat led to the signing of the Geneva Accords on July 21, 1954 that split the country into North Vietnam and South Vietnam.


© AFP                                                   

                                                         Subject: French news

 

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