490. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Thailand 1

3120. Friendly farewell meeting between Sarit and Robertson took place June 23. Substance follows:

After Robertson expressed gratification Sarit’s successful checkup, Sarit explained travel plans (communicated to Ambassador through another channel). Robertson stated pleased U.S. could assist with travel arrangements.

Sarit emphasized need for written reply his memoranda to help offset criticisms which might arise if gave oral report only. Also asked written reply be supplemented by oral comments. At Sarit’s request Robertson agreed written reply would be provided through you direct to Sarit rather than government by end of week, with copy to Thai Embassy for Thawi and Pungpop who will remain here for a short time.

Robertson indicated completion $17 million in loans and grants for Thai portion telecommunications program in offing and arrangements almost completed for loans of between $30 and $40 million for thermal electric power plant and distribution system. He then pointed out distinction between loan assistance for economic development (such as these loans and loans being arranged for Philippines) and grant aid under “defense support” program which intended help our allies maintain defense capacity without deterioration their economies. [Page 1034] Field Marshal claimed he understands these principles, as do educated Thai, but ill-educated people in opposition party make issue of them because Thai people oppose foreign loans in general. Added he and government will “try to explain” situation.

In response Robertson inquiry if Sarit desires issuance draft press release showed him last week (appropriately revised), Sarit indicated would like see new draft before deciding.2 Robertson agreed and stressed question of issuance of release entirely matter Sarit’s wishes.

Taking account of reliable reports Sarit’s dissatisfaction certain aspects previous meetings with Department officials, Robertson said believed some statements he and Secretary made had been misinterpreted. Stated no other ally for which U.S. feels stronger friendship than Thailand and termed a complete misunderstanding reported statement by Chalermchai that Secretary had indicated to Sarit “where dollars concerned friends don’t count”.3 In fact, Robertson stressed, Secretary said U.S. and allies fighting Communism on fronts all around world and if gave aid only to friends rest of world would fall to Communists with result U.S. and allies such as Thailand would be surrounded. Also explained he himself had spoken very frankly to Sarit as would to close friend and had no idea Sarit would take offense at queries re leftist newspapers. Expressed regret over any misunderstanding, to which Sarit responded he did not mind as he also likes speak frankly.

Sarit spoke of serious political situation Bangkok and “faults and improper activities” on part government. May have to “take action”. Would like return to “surprise friends“, show his concern with situation at home. Some might welcome him, others not. Regrets still not feeling up to par. Expressed thanks for transportation assistance, medical treatment, apologized if any misunderstandings. Conversation ended cordially.

Will telegraph written reply to Thai memoranda, supplemental oral comments and draft press release in next few days.4

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 792.551/6–2358. Confidential; Limit Distribution. Drafted by Bushner, cleared by Kocher, and approved by Robertson. Repeated to CINCPAC exclusive for Admiral Stump and for POLAD.
  2. The text of a draft joint press release was sent to Bangkok in telegram 3039, June 13. (Ibid., 792.551/6–658)
  3. According to a note attached to a memorandum of Dulles’ conversation on May 14 with Sarit (Document 476), the drafting officer of that memorandum indicated that Dulles had actually used the word “inadequate” rather than “limited” in referring to the funds Congress provided for programs to fight Communism abroad. (Ibid., Secretary’s Memoranda of Conversation: Lot 64 D 199)
  4. A revised text of the draft joint press release was sent to Bangkok in telegram 3174, June 28. (Ibid., Central Files, 792.551/6–2858) No press release was apparently issued by the two governments, however, following the conclusion of the talks, probably due to Sarit’s hasty departure for Thailand on June 24.