209. Telegram From the Department of State to the Commander in Chief, Pacific’s Political Adviser (Steeves)1

865. Re Polad 45 (DTG 160145Z).2 From Robertson.

United States as non-signatory Geneva Accords has consistently viewed question actions to be taken by RLG relating Accords almost entirely from political rather than legal point of view. We have felt moreover that sovereign RLG’s views as to Accord being terminated and its wishes as to future action should be respected.
In considering method execution Defense (Heintges) plan, for improving support ANL, in politically acceptable manner given interest ICC powers, current political trend in Laos and probable Chicom and Vietnamese Communist reactions, we envisaged chain of events in which:
RLG and French Government would agree to U.S. assistance to augment enlarged French military mission and French military establishments Laos view French inability to meet commitments training ANL without such assistance;
RLG informing neighboring countries via press and radio it desired increase ANL efficiency in discharge internal responsibilities for security, police action, disaster relief, civic action, pointing out no intention increase ANL capacity in relation external security and noting each neighboring country already possessed clear military superiority;
RLG inviting attention to reduction by one-third in size of Army since Geneva and even greater reduction in war potential;
RLG making clear no change in foreign policy contemplated and continued peaceful relations desired with all neighbors;
U.S. in agreement RLG, informally notifying UK Co-chairman and friendly ICC power Canada, not in Geneva context, but as individual governments interested in Laos that U.S., seeking increase effectiveness and reduce cost military assistance, responding to French and RLG requests for additional assistance in training personnel which would not increase external war potential Laos and would not in any event be used for aggression.
In view importance French cooperation to execution Heintges plan as drawn, Department felt it essential obtain clarification French attitude. This clarification still pending. We realize French government’s unwillingness cooperate might oblige us proceed on basis unilateral Lao request, in which case plan would have to be redrafted.
Consultation with Embassies, Ottawa, London, Paris, Saigon and Vientiane showed broad considerations affecting our relations with UK and Canada made it desirable approach those governments in advance in attempt obtain their acquiescence introduction large number active duty military personnel which would be de facto scrapping of Geneva machinery in Laos. As soon as French attitude clarified we plan approach UK and Canada to this effect. We do not expect or require firmal UK or Canadian approval before acting affirmatively on program. We do feel however that informing these friendly powers of our intentions in advance will minimize possible adverse effects our relations which could result should we act without their knowledge in matter in which they have heretofore cooperated closely. UK, Canada and France took initiative terminating ICC activities Laos and kept us fully informed their actions.
Appears Department thinking along essentially same lines your views set forth reftel. Grateful for your thoughtful presentation. Will keep you informed developments.
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 751J.5–MSP/1–2059. Secret; Limit Distribution. Drafted by Corcoran; cleared in SEA, FE, and EUR/BNA; and approved by Robertson. Repeated to Vientiane.
  2. Document 206.