218. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Laos1

1176. Vientiane’s 1660, 1657, 1643, 1637, 1636, 1601, 1578, 1571, 1556, 1494.2

Vientiane authorized reply Khamphan Panya’s note (Embtel 1494) along following lines:
Acknowledge receipt note and refer to conversation reported Embtel 1494 in which Khamphan Panya stated request intended cover training as well as material and equipment needs.
State U.S. remains convinced necessity improve training ANL and desires assist this purpose. However realize this must be accomplished in manner minimize international complications.
State U.S. hopes be able improve ANL training as originally proposed in closest cooperation with French Military Mission. We consider such continued cooperation most important. FMM with its organization in being in Laos and its familiarity ANL represents valuable asset for Laos. Hope RLG can reach agreement with French whereby FMM will provide at least four specially qualified French officers or non-commissioned officers for each of twelve training teams.
Whatver solution is found between RLG and French U.S. wishes most emphatically maintain along with ANL closest coordination and cooperation with French military personnel engaged in this and other military training activities Laos. As Foreign Minister stated he had made same approach to French Ambassador and informed him of note to us a copy of this reply is being provided French Ambassador.
In delivering note you should refer to portion on minimizing international complications and point out it essential avoid so far as possible strengthening ChiCom-DRV-Soviet arguments for reactivation ICC or affording DRV and ChiComs ready pretext for border violations. Support of U.K. and Canada as well as minimum concern on part India is necessary if current bloc efforts reactivate ICC are to be parried without causing complications these friendly countries. Similarly French too, thus far, insist on continuing validity Geneva accords. Therefore U.S.-RLG desire implement more effective training scheme in which U.S. participates must be realized in manner and at time best calculated not jeopardize allied support through appearance taking precipitate or provocative action. U.S. remains prepared assist in training if RLG formally requests but must reserve decision on timing and method in light international developments and outcome RLG-French discussions. In this connection you may state Department fully supports your statements to Phoui (Embtel 1637) re need retain French cooperation and at least token participation training. Finally (with reference Embtel 1657) you may suggest to Phoui substitution paragraph 2 draft RLG letter to French along lines you propose3 despite text our note paragraph 1 above which records our desire for RLG-French agreement.
As soon as note delivered4 Department will inform French Embassy here of substance thereof and of our understanding D’Arrivere’s view which we consider has merit. Will further state that if French cannot soon reach agreement with RLG, U.S. will regretfully feel obliged, given urgent ANL training need and necessity justify continued budgetary support, consider other means accomplish purpose set forth paragraph 1 B above.
Embassy Paris should promptly communicate substance paragraphs 1 and 3 above to Daridan.5 We hope cover some ground with Couve here.
(FYI. Concur line Vientiane Embassy officer took with Colonel Delafon re Seno. We have made clear in past importance we attached to continued French presence Seno. However see no point now in becoming involved jurisdictional issue which appears to have become largely prestige question between France and RLG. End FYI)
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 751J.5/3–2859. Secret; Niact. Drafted by Parsons and Corcoran; cleared by Jenkins, Kocher, WE, and the Office of the Secretary of Defense; and approved by Robertson. Also sent priority to Paris and repeated to Saigon and CINCPAC for POLAD.
  2. In telegram 1660, March 28, the Embassy sent the informal thoughts of the Country Team on recasting the form of U.S. military training contributions to Laos. (ibid.) Regarding telegram 1657, March 28, see footnote 3, Document 216. In telegram 1643, March 26, Smith reported that Ambassador Gassouin stated that the French Foreign Ministry was not taking military assistance to Laos seriously. (Department of State, Central Files, 751J.5/3–2659) Telegram 1637 is printed as Document 216. In telegram 1636, March 25, the Embassy reported that the French Military Attaché in Laos, Colonel Delafon, was soon to leave for Paris and wished a clear indication of the U.S. position on Seno and military training. (Department of State, Central Files, 751J.5/3–2559) Regarding telegrams 1601 and 1578, March 19 and 15, see footnotes 2 and 5, Document 216. In telegram 1571, the Embassy reported preliminary tripartite discussions on the training issue. (Department of State, Central Files, 751J.5/3–1359) Regarding telegrams 1556 and 1494, March 11 and February 26, see footnote 6, Document 216. Telegrams 1660 and 1643 are included in the microfiche supplement.
  3. Apparent reference to paragraph 2 (G) of the Lao draft letter to the French as translated in telegram 1657 from Vientiane. It originally read: “Therefore RLG proposes to GOF a further meeting between interested French and Lao authorities in order to come to an agreement.” The Embassy suggested changing this language to the following:

    “In my letter of February 26 I mentioned that Defense Committee had requested me to make similar approach to American Ambassador for additional aid his government prepared to furnish ANL. I have not yet received answer from American Ambassador but in view of fact French proposals while generous do not seem susceptible of meeting ANL present and urgent needs I would like to propose that interested American, French, and Lao authorities meet at earliest opportunity to discuss entire problem of training ANL.”

  4. Done on April 1. (Telegram 1676 from Vientiane, April 1; Department of State, Central Files, 751J.5/4–159)
  5. Done according to telegram 3623 from Paris, April 1. Daridan expressed the view that the United States and France should avoid an open breach with the Geneva Agreements on Laos or a flagrant move which would provide India, the People’s Republic of China, or the Soviet Union additional ammunition for their argument in favor of reactivating the ICC in Laos. (ibid., 751J.5/4–159)