482. Memorandum of a Conversation, Department of State, Washington, May 29, 1958, 4:30 p.m.1
- Economic Aid to Thailand
- Ambassador Thanat Khoman, Embassy of Thailand
- FE—Walter S. Robertson, Assistant Secretary for Far Eastern Affairs
- FE—Gardner E. Palmer, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Economic Affairs
- SEA—Eric Kocher, Director, Southeast Asian Affairs
- SEA/E—Frank S. Wile
Ambassador Thanat Khoman called upon Assistant Secretary Robertson, at the latter’s request, on May 29, 1958, at 4:30 p.m. Mr. Robertson had asked the Ambassador to come in so that he could clear up any misunderstanding which might have arisen at their earlier meeting on May 27, 1958.2
Mr. Robertson opened the discussion by stating that it would be natural for the Thai to assume that, because the United States was able late in 1954 to grant $25 million to Field Marshal Sarit and $28.2 million to General Phao, the current Thai request for increased grant aid could be similarly accommodated. He explained that the Sarit and Phao grants were funded under a $700 million appropriation in FY 1955 for the support of the Armed Forces of nations in Southeast Asia in connection with the Indochina War. Mr. Robertson then pointed out that these funds no longer exist, and that all other reserves are exhausted.
In connection with his explanation made to the Ambassador at the earlier meeting (May 27) regarding the difference between requested and appropriated funds, Mr. Robertson reviewed the history of MSP global appropriations from FY 1955 through FY 1958 and pointed out that Congressional cuts during this period had amounted to over $3.5 billion. He emphasized how important it is that Field Marshal Sarit understand the limitations imposed on the Mutual Security Program and assured the Ambassador that the United States would study the list of projects to determine which of them might be fitted into the present program. Mr. Robertson also assured the Ambassador that the United States is not insensitive to the needs of the Thai, that we have a great admiration for Thailand and that we place a high value on her friendship.
Ambassador Thanat Khoman thanked Mr. Robertson for his explanation and observed that the Sarit and Phao grants had not been considered in the current request for an increase in grant aid. The Ambassador believed that there might be a misunderstanding on Mr. Robertson’s part about Field Marshal Sarit’s memorandum.3 The Thai did not expect the United States to grant the full amount requested; rather, Thailand hoped to implement some of the projects through loans and others by means of substitutions in the present aid program. He said that Field Marshal Sarit attaches particular importance to the first three projects (Korat-Ubol highway construction, tank irrigation and highway rehabilitation) and hopes the United States can provide [Page 1017] assistance for these projects. Such a “gesture”, according to the Ambassador, by indicating a willingness to help Thailand, would enhance the prestige of the present Thai Government.
Mr. Robertson thanked the Ambassador for his call and reiterated that it is important that each government understand the problems of the other. He concluded by expressing his regret that Field Marshal Sarit’s health would not permit him to attend a luncheon in his honor which had been scheduled for June 3.