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

938. Embtels 896, 922.2 Had interview with Kyaw Nyein on his return from Interior. He apologized for delay in giving views on informal [Page 7] arms proposal but said had been unable present matter fully to Ne Win and Ba Swe who both frequently absent from Rangoon. (This I find hard to believe in relation matter to which such importance attached by Burmese.) Kyaw Nyein asked me repeat proposed terms and promised his reactions by about 8th.

He asked again whether formal agreement essential and why must be made public. I explained that exchange notes required and that we obligated report eventually to Congress and UN but that considerable delay possible and report could be inconspicuous. He asked why we could not find formula whereby transaction could be handled as sale at reduced price even if limited to surplus items (which he said would be good enough for Burma). My answer explained that our lawyers had found such sales impossible under present laws unless items actually surplus and that US surpluses strictly limited at present.

It significant that Kyaw Nyein arranged have present at interview Thakin Tha Kin, Joint Secretary General AFPFL, which I interpret reflect desire have witness who could verify to colleagues propriety subject matter and defend Kyaw Nyein against possible charges his relations with us unneutral.

Comment: I gained distinct impression from interview that primary concern Burmese is conceal gift aspect from opposition and from Chinese Communist to whom commitments publicly made not accept such gifts. Personally believe that unless we can find formula to eliminate gift aspect entirely or satisfy Burmese that could be handled with complete and permanent secrecy our proposal not likely be accepted.3

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 790B.5–MSP/4–855. Secret.
  2. Telegram 896 from Rangoon, March 24, reported that U Kyaw Nyein had not responded to the proposal for U.S. military assistance to Burma. (Ibid., 790B.5–MSP/3–3055) Telegram 922, March 30, reported that U Kyaw was away from Rangoon for a few days. (Ibid., 790B.5–MSP/3–2455)
  3. Acly reported in telegram 1042, April 30, that he had raised the subject with Kyaw Nyein, who replied that he had asked General Ne Win to discuss the matter with the Embassy. Acly commented that the obvious indifference and silence convinced him that the Burmese Government was not interested in the U.S. proposition. (Ibid., 790B.5–MSP/4–3055)