472. Memorandum of a Conversation, Department of State, Washington, May 3, 19551

SUBJECT

  • Call on the Secretary by Field Marshal P. Pibulsonggram, Prime Minister of Thailand

PARTICIPANTS

  • The Secretary
  • His Excellency Field Marshal P. Pibulsonggram, Prime Minister
  • The Honorable Dr. Rak Panyarachun, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs
  • The Honorable Mom Luang Peekdhip Malakul, Director General of Protocol, and Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • The Honorable Lt. General Mom Luang Kharb Kunjara, Secretary General to the Prime Minister
  • His Excellency Pote Sarasin, Thai Ambassador
  • The Honorable John E. Peurifoy, U.S. Ambassador to Thailand
  • Walter S. Robertson, Assistant Secretary, Far Eastern Affairs
  • Rockwood H. Foster, Thai and Malayan Affairs, Department of State

The Prime Minister called on the Secretary in order to convey his respects and that of his Government.

The Prime Minister expressed his deep appreciation to the Secretary for the warm hospitality extended to him in the United States, and presented the Secretary with a silver bowl as a token of his esteem. The Secretary thanked him warmly for the beautiful gift.

The Prime Minister was asked if subversive efforts against Thailand had increased or decreased since Prince Wan had read his excellent paper on the subject2 at the Manila Pact Conference in Bangkok. The Prime Minister replied that no decrease was evident, and the level of subversive efforts continued as before.

The Prime Minister stated that Prince Wan had spoken with Chou En-lai at Bandung and that Chou En-lai had asked Prince Wan to visit him in Peking and meet with Pridi Phanomyong3 Chou En-lai [Page 822]had informed Prince Wan that Pridi was not the leader of the Thai autonomous area in southern Yunnan, but was merely living in Communist China as a refugee. The Prime Minister expressed the opinion that he did not believe Chou En-lai’s statement on Pridi’s real status in Communist China and that he had cabled Prince Wan instructing him not to visit Peking. A message had been received back from Prince Wan replying that he would not accept the invitation.

Chou En-lai had attempted to convince Prince Wan at Bandung that Communist China was not hostile to Thailand. The Prime Minister expressed the opinion, however, that Communist China had not decreased its efforts to subvert Free Southeast Asia and considered the Viet Minh position in the two northern provinces of Laos to be a spearhead aimed at the rest of mainland Southeast Asia.

Prime Minister Pibulsonggram consented to a flight over Thailand without landing on June 24, Thai National Day, by U.S. air force planes based on Guam. There followed a general discussion of the possible route which such an overflight might follow, perhaps over Viet-Nam, Cambodia, or Laos. The opinion was expressed, however, by Mr. Robertson that the gain for the Free World from this overflight might not be commensurate with the propaganda opportunity given to the Communists. The Prime Minister made no reply to this observation.

The Prime Minister expressed his appreciation for the fine cooperation which U.S. organizations in Thailand had given to his Government, and expressed his pleasure at the channels which had been set up between himself and Mr. Dulles.

In closing, Ambassador Peurifoy informed the Secretary of the commendable efforts being made by the Prime Minister to utilize U.S. aid more efficiently through reforms in the Thai Government and adjustment of the Thai national budget.

The visit ended with an exchange of courtesies and appreciation of the hospitality extended both by the United States to the Prime Minister during his current visit, and by the Thai Government to the Secretary of State at Bangkok during the Manila Pact Conference.

  1. Source: Department of State, Secretary’s Memoranda of Conversation: Lot 64 D 199. Confidential. Drafted by Foster.
  2. A summary of Prince Wan’s remarks before the conference on this subject were transmitted in Secto 9 from Bangkok, February 23, which is scheduled for publication in the multilateral compilation in volume XXI.
  3. 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 from March to August 1946, and went into exile in China after leading an unsuccessful attempt to overthrow the Pibulsonggram government in February 1949. Thereafter, Pridi was a continuing source of concern to the Thai Government. Thai officials were concerned that Pridi might be used by the Chinese Communists to launch a “Free Thai” movement, based on the Thai Autonomous Area of Yunnan, to undermine the Government of Thailand. An assessment by the Embassy in Bangkok of Pridi and his potential for political disruption in Thailand is in despatch 564 from Bangkok, June 10. (Department of State, Central Files, 792.00/6–1055)