265. Informal Notes of a Telephone Conversation Between the Secretary of Defense (McElroy) and the Acting Secretary of State, Washington, September 9, 1959 4:20 p.m.1

Secretary McElroy said he was anxious to have a meeting with CDD, Gen. Twining and the President re Laos. He said they’re getting quite uncomfortable about what’s going on but they don’t want to go to the President on their own and he understands CDD has been talking to him about this. Secy McElroy said they’re afraid if we have to do something in a hurry that there’s not enough being done in advance. CDD said this is the first he was aware they felt this way. He said he knew they felt we should send some of our people up in front lines to gather intelligence information, but we felt this wouldn’t be too good at this time. However, he said if there were additional things they wanted, he thought it would be a good idea for Secy McElroy, Gen. Twining and himself to have a talk, and after that, if necessary, to have a talk with the President.

Secy McElroy said he thinks things need to move on such matters as were covered in a memorandum from Nate Twining (JCS) on Laos2 which has as primary requirement determination of whether we’re going to continue to let the present agreement with the French override the feeling we have over here about this training going on or development of some capability to wage guerrilla warfare. He thinks this is a good deal more fundamental than observation business. He said that things they think should be done they are told can’t be done because of UN, but that UN action may provide opportunity to do things that couldn’t be started otherwise. CDD agreed it made sense to promptly talk this matter out. Secy McElroy said he was perfectly agreeable to have the meeting with CDD and without the President, and CDD said he just doesn’t want to waste the President’s time before we find out whether a real difference exists and have the facts and if there is a difference he agreed they should meet with the President promptly. CDD added that he had talked to the President briefly yesterday3 about this and the President is very concerned and wants us to be in the strongest position for anything we may need to do. Secy McElroy said we are lacking a clear decision on whether we are going to do what is required to hold this piece of real estate. CDD said we’ve already made that decision but it’s a question of the best way to go about it. Secy McElroy said he’s afraid we may be given responsibility of holding it after there’s only about a square yard left, and CDD agreed that nobody wants that to happen.

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It was agreed that Secy McElroy, General Twining and Mr. Irwin would meet in CDD’s office tomorrow (Thursday, September 10) at 2:00 p.m., and that Messrs. Parsons, Wilcox and Robert Murphy would also be present.4

  1. Source: Department of State, Secretary’s Memoranda of Conversation: Lot 64 D 199. Secret.
  2. Document 254.
  3. See Document 262.
  4. See Document 268.