491. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Thailand1

3173. Verbatim Text. If you perceive no objection request you deliver note (with memorandum) from Secretary to Sarit quoted below accordance plan outlined Deptel 3120.2

1. Note (non-essential words omitted):


I have honor acknowledge receipt your letter of May 12, 1958 and the memoranda enclosed therewith pertaining to program to combat Communist activities Thailand and economic and military aid programs.3

I am confident that exchange of views on these subjects between you and various representatives of US Government, as summarized in attached memorandum, will further promote Thai-US understanding and help maintain close bonds between our two nations. US will continue do everything possible assist Thailand preserve its stability, independence and prevent Communist advances in Southeast Asia as well as world at large.

I am gratified that US Army medical authorities have confirmed success your medical treatment Washington and I wish you continued good health.

Accept Excellency the assurances of my highest consideration. John Foster Dulles

2. Memorandum (non-essential words omitted):

“Thai-US Discussions

Memoranda presented US Government May 12, 1958, by Field Marshal Srisdi Dhanarajata on behalf Thai Government have been studied carefully in light discussions between him and US Government representatives. Latter gratified by opportunity afforded these discussions to exchange views on problems confronting our two countries. They also have been much impressed by Field Marshal’s concern for welfare Thailand and its people, his clear-sighted realization Communist objectives Thailand, concern over threat his country arising from Communist infiltration efforts there, and recognition importance to Thailand’s security of its link with US and other SEATO allies.

[Page 1036]

US Government representatives welcome his interest in possible means countering Communist subversion. They have examined with care various proposals which have been presented this subject, and hope discussion he has initiated may be continued Bangkok with view to strengthening programs established for this purpose.

Re military matters it has been ascertained that a number of items recommended for strengthening Thailand’s military posture have already been programmed in previous years, and some are included in proposed program presented Congress for FY 1959. Certain other items do not appear meet MAP criteria and will require further detailed discussions at staff level with JUSMAG Bangkok. Assisting Thailand’s efforts maintain its security and increase its defensive strength continues to be fundamental part US policy toward Thailand.

Suggestions regarding economic development projects presented by Field Marshal have been given careful attention. United States recognizes a nation’s economic vigor is important factor in its total strength, and intends, to extent permitted by available funds, continue assist Thailand maintain its economic progress. Connection Thai Government’s concern regarding economic political situation northeast Thailand, 30 percent of US economic aid so far given has gone that area where there are serious economic needs.

Almost all economic projects listed by Field Marshal appear to have been proposed as part of defense support program. An important consideration which has influenced US Government’s discussions with Field Marshal regarding Thailand’s economic problems is fact proposed defense support program formulated on basis needs Free World nations faced by Communist threat have already been presented Congress. Thailand’s aid requirements, prepared after consultation with Thai Government last Fall, taken into account in program recommended to Congress this Spring. Pending Congressional action, not possible make commitments, or even agreements in principle, regarding defense support aid in coming fiscal year because extent funds which may be made available cannot be predicted.

Nevertheless, discussions which held with Field Marshal have established valuable basis for review by Embassy and USOM to determine if Thai Government’s economic proposals might be fitted into program for coming fiscal year, should funds become available, through shift in priorities within presently planned aid level for Thailand. This connection useful to know that Nakorn Rajasima–Ubol Highway, which understood was not scheduled for construction by the Thai Highway Department until 1963–66, may now have higher priority in view Thai Government. Should be noted this respect that from fiscal year 1954 up to including current fiscal year 1958 US economic aid funds in amount $55.7 million have been made available for highway construction Thailand, constituting more than half of all economic assistance provided Thailand during that period, and that the cost of completing highways upon which work now in progress is estimated at about $64 million.4 To embark on construction another [Page 1037] highway would almost certainly require deferment or cancellation high priority highway projects already underway. It also noted aid desired for tank irrigation in northeast which Thai Government had previously indicated could handle without further assistance, after more than 100 tanks had been built in northeast with US assistance.

If Government wishes initiate change in priorities in regard these projects, USOM Bangkok will be pleased consider feasibility providing assistance for these projects, within presently planned aid level, provided sufficient funds available in coming years. On similar basis USOM Bangkok would be willing consider specific proposals for self-help land settlement, land improvement cooperatives, bridge construction on Ranong–Takuapa Road,5 farm credit, paddy and farm product marketing cooperatives, and home industry development. Consideration of Banphai–Ubol highway might be more difficult because it understood that earlier plans for highway development Thailand did not include this highway as part primary highway system which was to receive priority attention.6

US regards Thailand as valuable honored friend and ally, and shares concern expressed by Field Marshal for welfare Thai people. During past eight years US has extended to Thailand total aid of about $415 million of which approximately $170 million has been economic assistance. US welcomes Field Marshal’s statement that he has urged his government to improve foreign private investment climate Thailand, and believes such investment would greatly accelerate Thailand’s economic development. US will continue do everything possible to help Thailand maintain its stability and independence. Number of actions in addition defense support program which promote these objectives have been taken during Field Marshal’s visit: namely, a) agreement reached on Thai portion regional telecommunications project under which Thailand would receive $17 million (a $10 million grant and $7 million loan); b) US Government lending institutions have determined that, upon completion formalities and satisfactory clarification certain technical points, they will give prompt and serious consideration to loan applications to assist in financing thermal electric power plant Bangkok and improved and enlarged distribution facilities in and near Bangkok (estimated at a total cost of between $30 and $40 million); and c) DLF and Thai Government agreed upon terms of loan to assist Thailand in acquiring dredge for use in Chao Phraya River. As further token US concern for Thailand’s welfare, cobalt-60 equipment for treatment cancer and a quantity of vaccine to alleviate cholera epidemic have been presented Field Marshal for Thai people. More [Page 1038] than ten tons vaccine and equipment provided by private and international agencies to help in fighting cholera have been flown to Thailand by US Government.

US Government confident that continuation at Bangkok of helpful discussions initiated by Field Marshal will further promote Thai-US understanding and contribute to increased cooperation which made possible by his efforts during his visit to US.”

FYI. Supplemental comments follow.7

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 792.551/6–2858. Confidential; Priority; Limit Distribution. Drafted by Bushner; cleared with the Department of Defense, ICA, DLF, Export-Import Bank, and Walter Reed Hospital; and approved by Secretary Dulles. Repeated to CINCPAC for POLAD.
  2. Supra.
  3. None printed. (Department of State, Central Files, 792.5–MSP/5–1358)
  4. The Embassy requested deletion of the words from “and that the cost” through the end of the sentence because the origin of the figure $64 million was not clear. The Department concurred. (Telegram 3552 from Bangkok, June 30, and telegram 5 from Bangkok, July 1; both ibid., 792.551/6–3058)
  5. The Embassy requested deletion of the words “on Ranon–Takuapa Road” because of doubts whether such bridges have adequate military justification for inclusion in the Department of State program. The Department concurred. (Telegrams 3552 and 5)
  6. The Embassy requested addition of the following sentence: “In addition, this highway might be difficult to justify under present defense support criteria.” (Telegram 3552) The Department replied that this sentence should not be used since it was contrary to the position taken in Congressional presentations that the Department of State was not limited to direct support of military efforts. (Telegram 5) The Embassy agreed to withdraw the proposed addition. (Telegram 22 from Bangkok, July 2; Department of State, Central Files, 792.551/7–258)
  7. Infra.