Conference files, lot 60 D 627, CF 289

Memorandum of Conversation, by the Deputy United States Representative ( Robertson )1

secret

Participants:

  • Prince Wan, Thai Minister of Foreign Affairs
  • Ambassador Sarasin, Thai Ambassador to the United States
  • Walter Bedell Smith, Under Secretary of State
  • Walter S. Robertson, Assistant Secretary of State

Subject:

  • Revival of Thai Plan of June 1953 for UN Peace Observation Commission in Indochina

General Smith opened the conversation by summarizing Department’s telegram to Geneva number 761.2 He reviewed the circumstances of last June when due to French opposition we had to reverse our position and request the Thais not to present a plan at that time. He stated that if they would now revive the petition, we would make a firm commitment to push it through the Security Council to a Soviet veto and then urgently convene the General Assembly.

Prince Wan said that he agreed in principle and that he felt his Government would agree in principle but there might be some question as to timing. He stated he strongly felt that although the 16 powers participating in the Geneva Conference represented the UN in a sense, the UN as an institution had not been brought into consideration of the Indochina question. He went on to say that neither Bidault’s nor Eden’s proposals for guarantee of the agreements that might be reached seemed to be within the framework of the UN, and that he had told Bidault that in his opinion the UN rather than the participants in the Conference should be the guarantor. As to timing, however, he questioned whether they had as good a case now as they had in June 1953 and that it might be advisable to wait until there was an invasion of Laos before reviving the request. The Cambodian complaint, he said, was already before the UN and at the moment they (the Thais) did not feel that there existed a threat to Thailand. However, if our intelligence had information to the contrary he would be glad to have it.

General Smith said that in his opinion the situation was more threatening now than it was last June, that there was mounting tension throughout the area, that no one knew when the attack would come or where and it was highly desirable to have the POC on the [Page 809] ground before the event, if possible, rather than afterwards. Time was of the essence as it would necessarily take time to get action by the Assembly. General Smith pointed out that the Russian tactic here at Geneva is to bypass the UN and he agreed with Prince Wan that the UN should be brought back into the situation as involving one of its primary responsibilities to preserve the peace. He said he thought Thailand was the best country to ask for POC since it was an experienced and independent UN member. Prince Wan seemed impressed by these observations and said Ambassador Sarasin was leaving for Bangkok Sunday night and would discuss the matter with the Prime Minister. Prince Wan added that the composition of the POC had not been particularly considered last June, but in view of the experience in Korea was it not probable that Russia would attempt to load the commission with Communists or Communist sympathizers. General Smith replied that he thought we had strength enough in the UN to prevent the success of such a move and that we had in mind such countries as Pakistan, India, Uruguay, New Zealand and Sweden. General Smith asked Prince Wan’s approval to discuss the proposal with the British and the French and Prince Wan agreed.

General Smith then referred to the conversation he had on yesterday with Ambassador Sarasin 3 with reference to measures for strengthening Thai armed forces and asked Prince Wan about the offer of bases in Thailand for the free world attributed to the Thai Chief of Staff. Wan said he had no official knowledge of such an offer but realized the desirability of defensive air base facilities. General Smith stated that if Thailand is willing to grant such bases, it might be desirable to negotiate agreements now for a fighter wing base which he thought would greatly increase the strength of Thailand’s position. Prince Wan said he would consult with his Government.

  1. This discussion and one held on May 14 between Smith and Sarasin were summarized in telegram Secto 230 to the Department of State, May 16. (396.1 GE/5–1654)
  2. Dated May 13, p. 790.
  3. For a memorandum of conversation of this discussion, May 14, see p. 801.