235. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Cambodia1

1064. Phnom Penh’s 1319 repeated New Delhi 167 London 99 Paris 152 Ottawa 96 Vientiane 100 Saigon Bangkok Unnumbered.2 We agree advisability issuing statement U.S. policy re Cambodia prior Sangkum Congress. Though statement may not change fundamental prejudices Sihanouk, it should at least clear record, cut ground from under current wildly distorted press campaign, and give Sihanouk face-saving way to resume normal and comparatively calm relations with U.S.

Unless you see objection please transmit following letter, revision of draft proposed reference telegram, from Secretary to Nong Kimny:3

“Dear Mr. Foreign Minister:

I am disturbed to learn that recent statements from various quarters have given increasing publicity to allegations that the United States has been attempting to coerce Cambodia into the SEATO alliance under the penalty of withholding economic aid, and that the United States has obliged the independent and friendly nations of Viet-Nam and Thailand to impose measures of economic warfare upon Cambodia for the same alleged end.

I regret that these allegations have been made since they are utterly false and could harm the friendly relations existing between our two countries.

The American Ambassador on April 2 officially advised Their Majesties the King and Queen of Cambodia that the United States at no time had made any official public observation on Cambodian foreign policy.4 United States policy in Cambodia is based on a simple precept: That is, the United States through its military and economic aid programs seeks to assist the Cambodian Government in its endeavor to maintain the sovereign independence of the Kingdom. This assistance is extended only at the wish of the Royal Cambodian Government, which officially requested military aid on May 20, 1954 and military and economic aid on September 1, 1954.

Although the United States believes that the free nations can most effectively meet the threat of Communist aggression through collective defense, nevertheless United States policy recognizes that certain countries, though determined to defend themselves against aggression or subversion of their independence, have preferred not to join regional security arrangements. That choice we respect. The [Page 516] United States does not seek ties of mutual defense with any country unless that country believes that this application of the principle of collective security will better assure its independence.

Recognition of the position of these countries in no way prevents the maintenance of close and cordial relations with them. In giving economic and military assistance to friendly countries to improve their capacity to defend themselves against aggression or subversion, the United States is guided primarily by consideration of its own national interests. It considers it to be in its national interest to help in the economic and social advancement of all free nations.

I trust that this letter will dispose of the false allegations concerning our policy, which, I venture to repeat, aims only at assisting free nations to preserve their liberty and independence.

May I take this occasion to extend warm personal greetings and best wishes for success in the new mission to which you have been called.”

In delivering letter recommend you orally state U.S. intends publish as soon as Department apprised of delivery message.

Wire niact after letter handed Nong Kimny in order permit Department and USIA publicize immediately.5

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 611.51H/4–1756. Secret; Niact. Drafted by Byrne; cleared by SEA, FE, SOA, G, and P; and approved and signed by Dulles. Repeated to New Delhi, Vientiane, Saigon, Bangkok, London, Paris, and Ottawa.
  2. See footnote 4, supra.
  3. Dulles wrote in the opening phrase to this paragraph: “Unless you see objection please”.
  4. See Document 232.
  5. The Embassy did so in telegram 1404 from Phnom Penh, April 19. (Department of State, Central Files, 611.51H/4–1956) The letter was released on April 19; for text, see Department of State Bulletin, April 30, 1956, pp. 727–728.