Memorandum by the Assistant Secretary of State (Sayre) of a Conversation With the Thai Minister (Abhibal Rajamaitri)

In pursuance of instructions from the Secretary, I made an appointment to see the Thai Minister at his summer cottage at Oster-ville, Massachusetts, telling him that I had to be in New England on other business but was anxious to talk over a personal matter with him.

I reached Osterville at 5:43 p.m. on July twenty-fifth and took dinner with the Minister and spent the evening with him. As I know the Minister intimately, I allowed the visit to seem more of a social than an official one.

After dinner I had a long talk with the Minister and told him that I had heard certain disquieting reports about the possibility of the Thai Government abandoning its traditional policy of detachment and strict neutrality and told him of my concern lest pressures emanating from Japan should become so strong that Thailand might become involved in the struggle now in progress between Japan and China. The substance of my remarks is set forth in the accompanying cable memorandum.

In reply, the Thai Minister told me that so far as his advices are concerned he believed the reports to be ill-founded and without justification. He told me in strict confidence that the Thai people fundamentally [Page 120] mistrusted the Japanese. He went on to say that the Thai Cabinet, of which he was a former member, felt strongly that Thailand should continue its policy of strict neutrality. As an instance of this policy, he told me, in the strictest confidence, that Thailand had been approached by Great Britain and I understood him to say that Great Britain had undertaken to defend Thai ports in return for a promise by Thailand to side with Great Britain in the event of war. This offer had been refused by his Government on the ground of its traditional policy of strict neutrality.

As a matter of fact, however, I feel that the Thai Minister, being out of direct touch with what is currently going on in Bangkok, has no direct knowledge of the most recent developments and that his opinion, sincere as it is, is not therefore to be relied upon.

At the close of our friendly and intimate conversation I read over to the Thai Minister a statement which I had prepared in the form of a cable in order succinctly to set forth the thoughts which I had expressed to him. He asked me to leave a copy of this statement with him and promised to send it to his Government by cable. A copy of this statement is attached herewith.

F. B. S[ayre]

Draft Telegram

Kalyan32 had long and friendly talk informally with me today not as American government official but as former adviser and friend of Thailand. He said in substance following:

“I feel sure you are confident of my disinterestedness and genuine concern and affection for Thailand. I have been much concerned over recent disquieting rumors of possibility of Thailand’s abandoning its traditional policy of strict neutrality toward powerful rival governments struggling for ascendency and yielding to insistent pressure for permitting use of Thailand facilities for assisting designs of Asiatic power. I sincerely hope reports untrue. Thailand’s independence and welfare in past have been based largely on its steadfast policy of detachment and independent neutrality in rivalry between Great Britain and France. Today a struggle of even larger scope is in progress between two Asiatic powers with European powers vitally concerned in outcome. I feel keenly that independence and welfare of Thailand depend even more vitally than in past on its scrupulously maintaining a position of strict and impartial neutrality in this pending struggle. Once this policy is sacrificed I fear Thai independence may be seriously threatened and Thailand lose its ancient heritage.”

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He hopes I will make his concern clear to Thailand Government and emphasize that he is prompted not by desire of officious meddling but solely because of his affection for Thai people and his concern lest any other course lessen or impair the respect and sincere regard which American people hold for Thai people.33

  1. Mr. Sayre.
  2. The Chargé in Thailand, in his telegram No. 28, August 11, 11 a.m., reported the Thai Minister for Foreign Affairs had “issued emphatic denial [of] rumors of change in neutrality policy and reaffirming policy of equal friendship with all powers alike.” (792.00/32)