19. Telegram From the Delegation at the SEATO Council Meeting to the Department of State1

Secto 9. There follow summaries at afternoon session February 23, agenda item 2.

[Page 42]

Begin French Summary:2

Geneva Agreements3 failed provide SE Asian security; on contrary result has been intensification Communist subversive efforts directed by Moscow and to some extent by Communist China. Manila Pact was particularly appropriate supplement to Geneva, especially as extended to Indochina by Protocol. Despite charges some quarters Manila Pact in conflict Geneva Agreements, France signed Pact and has assumed its share responsibility under it. Eventually French will be able extend full effective support to Treaty.

Most grateful for courage the SE Asian members in joining Pact. Important other concerned areas understand motives Pact members. We must attract other Asian nations to membership.

Communists at Bandung will attack Bangkok meeting and Manila Pact, but fortunately Asian Pact members present at Bandung will defend us; in any case, our interests will be better served at Bandung to extent Bangkok meeting endorses freedom and independence and supports ideas implied in five principles. Reviewed Viet Minh subversive activities Vietnam underscoring constructive record Diem government in land reform, other measures social betterment, democratic progress. Expressed sincere hope government will overcome still-existing obstacles. Noted despite extreme difficulty refugee resettlement, serious social and political tensions accompanying similar movements in recent past thus far avoided Vietnam.

Called upon membership to extend all feasible aid to Vietnam, assuring Council any such aid deeply appreciated by Vietnamese people.

In Cambodia, Viet Minh underground activities abetted by Khmer cooperation constitutes continuing element instability; nevertheless, King’s progressive actions have had sound effect as evidenced by decisive results referendum.

End French Summary.

Begin Pakistan Summary:4

There are three kinds of danger of aggression from outside, internal subversion, and a combination of both. Strongest motivating force in life is religion. As long as this is true, danger of Communism lessened. However, the will to survive also is strong force and if desperate people will seize upon any promise of salvation. As weakness invited aggression, military and economic strength must be built against aggression and subversion. Problems which have arisen in [Page 43] Indochina can be attributed to fact that people were denied their national aspirations.

There is no significant Communist danger from within Pakistan. However, some Communist cells have been formed in industrial areas. Communists have provoked serious riots, one costing 400 lives. They have also set one province or area in the country against the other. Care should be taken to watch for Communist use of pseudonationalism. One must emphasize importance of spiritualism and moral values to fight Communist ideology.

End Pakistan Summary.

Begin Philippine Summary:5

Philippines agree with excellent “comprehensive, and accurate analysis made by Secretary Dulles.” They have little to add. They believe strong defensive arrangements are necessary. Are grateful for Secretary Dulles’ kind words with respect to Philippine paper on subversion.6

End Philippine Summary.

Begin Thai Summary:

Prince Wan reviewed situation Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia, then gave detailed account of developments Pridi’s7 “Free Thailand” movement. Prince Wan then suggested following measures to counter-subversion: (a) Strengthening internal security forces, (b) Elimination of internal elements capable of serving outside infiltration, (c) Exchange of essential information pertaining to subversive activities, (d) Strengthening of free institutions by reforming system of internal administration of countries concerned so as to bring about stability required in preventing and countering Communist propaganda and infiltration and (e) Promotion of economic, social and cultural advancement of peoples in particular in less developed area to deprive Communism of conditions in which it breeds best.

He then made reference to “46,000 Vietnamese refugees” in Thailand stating their leaders inspired by and in constant touch with Viet Minh. He estimated 90 percent wished to be repatriated to Viet Minh territory. He recommended decentralization of administrative powers so that the people can have a more direct share in administrative responsibility. He said his government was particularly interested [Page 44] in the economic development of Laos, Cambodia and South Vietnam. He recommended economic cooperation under Article 3 as a means to prevent subversion.

Prince Wan then incorrectly referred to the establishment of a “mobile combined security force,” which he stated had been mentioned by the Secretary some time ago and said that Thailand was attracted by this idea. He stated such a course would provide useful training, improved coordination and have psychological value.

He stated his government favors a permanent secretariat and offered all facilities to establish it at Bangkok. He pointed to the realization of independence by Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam and to forthcoming elections in Malaya as strengthening the principles of self-determination, self-government and independence embodied in Treaty and Pacific Charter.

Pathet Lao activities in Northeast Laos represent continuing serious threat to established authority. France is assisting government to meet and overcome this threat.

End Thai Summary.

Begin New Zealand Summary:8

Though rather far removed from immediately threatened area, New Zealand deeply concerned by southward Communist movement. Agrees wholeheartedly with Secretary’s point of view on Japan expressed in morning session, would regard Communist domination of Japan as most critical danger to entire treaty area.

Shares Australia’s deep concern over Indonesian future. Is certain Communists will exploit Bandung propaganda-wise but hopes Asian SEATO members at Bandung will give true picture Manila Pact motivations. On Indochina, feels next twelve-eighteen months most critical period and agrees outside aid desirable. However advisability assistance qualified by question on whether Indochinese support their governments. Hopes recent reports not unduly optimistic.

Believes Bangkok discussions will help New Zealand people understand urgency Southeast Asian situation and facilitate their decision as to how best to assist.

End New Zealand Summary.

Begin UK Summary:9

Agrees with Secretary that with unity we can meet threat overt aggression and is prepared to have meeting military representatives during Bangkok discussions. Believes consultations experts on subversion equally important. Agrees with French Pact membership should be expanded. In addition, military and anti-subversive preparations, [Page 45] action to effect economic and social benefits highly important. In conduct of Pact affairs, members must at all costs not open themselves to charge of interference domestic affairs independent governments.

Reviewing briefly progress in Malayan problems, stated Communists cannot accomplish objectives lacking overwhelming outside support. Having largely failed in military effort, they now concentrate on infiltration in schools, trade unions, et cetera. Indicated will make concrete substantive comments as specific agenda items are considered.

End Summary.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 396.1–BA/2–2355. Confidential. Repeated to Manila, Saigon, Karachi, New Delhi, Rangoon, Djakarta, Singapore, London, Paris, Vientiane, Phnom Penh, Canberra, and Wellington.
  2. The French Representative was Henri Bonnet, Ambassador to the United States until January 1955.
  3. For texts of the Geneva Accords signed July 20 and 21, 1954, see Foreign Relations, 1952–1954, vol. XVI, pp. 1505 ff.
  4. The Representative of Pakistan was Prime Minister (also Foreign Minister) Mohammed Ali.
  5. Carlos P. Garcia, Vice President and Secretary of Foreign Affairs, was the Representative of the Philippines.
  6. MP(C)(55) D–3/1, “Philippine Experience in Combatting Communist Subversion”, February 23, is an enclosure to a covering memorandum from the Working Group to the Secretary General of the meeting, same date, neither printed. (Department of State, FE Files: Lot 56 D 679, Bangkok Conference—Agenda)
  7. Pridi Phanomyong was the leader of the Free Thai underground resistance movement against the Japanese during World War II. He was Prime Minister of Thailand March–August 1946 and went into exile in China after leading an unsuccessful attempt to overthrow the Pibulsonggram government in February 1949.
  8. The New Zealand Representative was T.L. Macdonald, Minister of External Affairs.
  9. Foreign Secretary Sir Anthony Eden represented the United Kingdom.