113. Letter From President Eisenhower to Prime Minister Sihanouk1

Dear Prince Sihanouk: I appreciate very much the friendly sentiments which you expressed in your letter of April 13, 1959, from Paris and I read with interest your further explanation of several points raised in your earlier letter of February twenty-third.

With respect to your observation that Cambodian rebels are openly claiming United States support, I wish to assure you most emphatically that the Government of the United States is in no way supporting any efforts to overthrow the Monarchy or the duly constituted Government of Cambodia. Any claims to the contrary, whatever the source, are without the slightest foundation. I shall request the [Page 314] United States Ambassador at Phnom Penh to discuss with the appropriate officials of your Government the nature of such claims and the means to counter them should this be deemed necessary.

Your comments on the marked improvement in relations between Cambodia and Thailand are most reassuring. I trust that the reiteration by you and President Diem of the desire for friendly relations foreshadows a similar, mutually profitable understanding between Cambodia and Viet-Nam. You may be sure that the United States will follow the development of amicable relations among the countries of Southeast Asia with active and sympathetic interest. In particular, I hope that it may soon be possible for positive steps to be taken toward the resolution of the outstanding differences between your country and its neighbors. American Ambassadors in the area stand ready to encourage the development of mutual confidence, and, wherever possible, to lend friendly assistance to specific endeavors toward this end.

I have taken serious note of the comment toward the end of your letter indicating your desire to enlist the interest of the United States in the future of a small country such as Cambodia, and I wish to reassure you on this score. As a matter of principle, the disparity in size and material resources of our two countries in no way affects the genuine concern of the United States in Cambodia’s welfare. It is also part of American tradition that we feel a keen sympathy and understanding for the aspirations of other countries, whether large or small, to achieve and maintain their freedom. Finally, as a matter of purely personal association, I recall that my inauguration as President occurred in the same year that Cambodia, largely through your efforts, finally gained the full measure of national independence.

I believe you will agree that active American interest in Cambodia has been demonstrated not only in words but also in tangible assistance intended to help your country maintain its independence and further develop its material resources. This assistance has been provided in complete conformity with the respect of the United States for Cambodia’s sovereignty, which includes respect for Cambodia’s sovereign right to choose its own means of protecting Cambodian independence and contributing to the common goal of world peace. As long as Cambodia subscribes to these aims, you may confidently rely on American friendship and understanding.

Since last communicating with you I have heard of your operation in Paris. I take this opportunity to convey my best wishes for your speedy and complete recovery.

[Page 315]

With warm regard,

Sincerely,

Dwight D. Eisenhower2
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 751H.00/5–859. Confidential; Presidential Handling. Transmitted in telegram 969 to Phnom Penh, May 8, which indicated that the letter was delivered to Nong Kimny for forwarding to Prince Sihanouk in Paris. Telegram 969, which is the source text, was drafted by Askew and cleared by John Eisenhower in the White House, Kocher, Jenkins, and Herter.

    The text of this letter, drafted by Askew, was approved by President Eisenhower on May 7. (Memorandum from Herter to Eisenhower, May 6; ibid., 751H.00/5–559) Telegram 969 also notes that a paraphrase of the letter was sent to Bangkok and Saigon.

  2. Telegram 969 bears this typed signature.