478. Memorandum of a Conversation, Department of State, Washington, August 12, 19551


  • Conditions in Thailand and Relations with Cambodia and Laos


  • General Phao Sriyanon
  • His Excellency Pote Sarasin, Ambassador of Thailand
  • Colonel Siddhi
  • Secretary of State
  • PSAJames D. Bell, Acting Director

Ambassador Sarasin conveyed to the Secretary his condolences and those of his Government on the death of Ambassador Peurifoy. The Secretary remarked that Ambassador Peurifoy’s death was a great loss and that the Ambassador, an exceptionally able man, had already had a brilliant career at a relatively young age.

The Secretary stated he understood that General Phao had had a conversation earlier with Mr. Hollister.2 General Phao stated that he had talked to Mr. Hollister and found him sympathetic to Thailand’s problems.

Ambassador Sarasin stated that in conversation with Ambassador Peurifoy General Phao had learned of our desire that Thailand strengthen its relationships with its neighbors, particularly Cambodia and Laos. The Secretary stated that this was the case and recalled that Thailand had in fact recently taken a number of actions along this line. General Phao stated that he had arranged for training police from both Cambodia and Laos. Ambassador Sarasin referred to the recent transit agreement for goods coming in and out of Laos. Ambassador Sarasin then asked if the Secretary had further suggestions for action along these lines. The Secretary said that we placed a good deal of importance on the strengthening of relations of all the States in the area and said that we would like to see the Lao Government strengthened in its struggle against the Pathet Lao. Ambassador Sarasin stated that he believed that aid and assistance provided through [Page 833] Thailand would possibly be more acceptable than aid from a Western country.

The Secretary asked General Phao for his estimate of the situation in Cambodia. General Phao said that he believed that Prince Sihanouk Norodom was losing ground and might even be in danger of losing the elections. He attributed this in part to the fact that Sihanouk having once been King lacked the ability to establish close contact with the people. It was General Phao’s view that Sihanouk had been greatly influenced by Nehru during his visit to India. He thought that Sihanouk as a result had moved away from an anti-Communist position and had become more neutralist. General Phao said that he had discussed the Cambodian situation with Ambassador Peurifoy and had inquired as to which element in Cambodia we thought Thailand should support. He said Ambassador Peurifoy had agreed that it was probably desirable to support both Sihanouk and Son Ngoc Thanh.3 He said that if Son Thanh were to win the election he wanted to be in a position to influence him to support the West. He said that Son Ngoc Thanh was not a Communist but that if he were ignored by the anti-Communist world he might well be converted by the Viet Minh.

  1. Source: Department of State, Secretary’s Memoranda of Conversation: Lot 64 D 199. Official Use Only. Drafted by Bell.
  2. See Supra.
  3. Son Ngoc Thanh, leader of the Democratic Party of Cambodia, which unsuccessfully opposed the government of Prince Sihanouk in the Cambodian elections of September 1955.