20. Telegram From the Embassy in Burma to the Department of State1

557. During call on U Kyaw Nyein yesterday subject of U Nu’s visit to Soviet Union2 came up. I said I had of course been concerned over some aspects of visit and he asked me what specifically and in reply I mentioned prospect that Burma would soon be receiving great number of Russian, Polish and other Communist technicians.3

Kyaw Nyein said we should try to understand Burma’s position. It is absolutely essential for it to dispose of its rice surplus. The Iron Curtain countries come to Burma’s aid in this respect. They cannot send enough goods in return under the barter deals but can send technicians. Their technicians will also be needed for some of the goods they would furnish.

Then making clear he was not speaking for GUB but rather personally he referred to his conversation with Senator Dirksen (Embtel 1276 June 23 in which he expressed fear GUB was being sucked into Soviet orbit). He asked if I had noticed concerted effort being made by Communist countries, first Russia then China, Poland, East Germany and Czechoslovakia, to promote trade with Burma. Rumania and Hungary would be next.

Remarking that “we or at least some of us in the Government are still anti-Communist,” he added that US Government was well aware of his feeling on this subject. He had visited Soviet Embassy for first time at November 7 reception because he was Acting Foreign Minister. But what can we do and what can you do to help us he asked?

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He thought it extremely important that our two Governments should reach agreement on PL 480 negotiations thus assuring increasing contacts between our two Governments for the next two or three years. I remarked and he agreed that negotiations seemed be proceeding successfully.

I asked if there was any way we could help them militarily.4 He said that if it were possible for us to train more Burmese Officers in our service schools that would be of great help.

In this connection he expressed his personal concern over effect visit of Burmese military mission to China might have on officers accompanying mission. He had not realized until I raised subject with Prime Minister (Embtel 320 September 235) that practically entire army high command had gone to China. Army had always been anti-Communist. CPR had however given Burmese military mission extreme red carpet treatment throughout and he hoped this would not tend to lessen their previous anti-Communist feelings.

Speaking further of Chinese influence he said that even his own Minister [Ministry] would be responsible for bringing in many Chinese technicians required to put up textile mills being obtained from CPR. They would be here for at least a year and a number for a longer period.

I reviewed serious efforts US Government has made to assist Burma not only financially but also militarily. I said our efforts to assist Burma had been made increasingly difficult by barter agreements and ever increasing contacts between Burma and Soviet orbit countries. We unlike totalitarian countries were subject to the wishes of the people and had to observe our own laws. [Garble] further ideas on the subject. He promised do so.

Comment: We have received from number of reliable sources indications that U Kyaw Nyein, U Ba Swe and Bo Khin Maung Gale6 have been increasingly concerned by commitments U Nu has reportedly made during his visit to Russia. Some competent observers feel there will have be showdown between U Nu and these Socialist [Page 29] Party leaders which might possibly result in U Nu’s loss of Premiership following coming elections.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 790B.13/11–1655. Secret.
  2. U Nu visited the Soviet Union in late October and early November; the text of a joint statement issued by him and Soviet Premier Bulganin is printed in Documents (R.I.I.A.) for 1955, pp. 482–484.
  3. U Nu stated at a press conference in Moscow that an agreement in principle was reached that the Soviet Union would provide increased technical assistance to Burma in return for Burmese rice. (Telegram 540 from Rangoon, November 10; Department of State, Central Files, 033.90B61/11–1055)
  4. Later that day Satterthwaite reported in telegram 558 that regarding discussion of U.S. military assistance, U Kyaw Nyein referred to General Ne Win’s visit to the United States and his failure to obtain firearms. Satterthwaite mentioned the efforts Ambassador Sebald had made for Burma to obtain arms at reduced prices, but U Kyaw Nyein “did not seem disposed to discuss subject so I thought it better to drop it especially in view his own pessimistic attitude toward present trend of ever closer relations with Soviet orbit.” (Ibid., 790B.13/11–1655)
  5. Telegram 320 reported on a September 23 conversation between Satterthwaite and U Nu, U Kyaw Nyein, and U Raschid during which the Ambassador expressed personal concern about the visit of the Burmese military mission to the People’s Republic of China. (Ibid., 790B.5893/9–2355)
  6. Burmese Minister for Home Affairs.