319. Telegram From the Embassy in Laos to the Department of State 1

1904. For Cumming and Parsons only from Ambassador. In private talk with me afternoon December 31 Phoui spoke at some length of “Lao-French conviction that CDNI–military would never have dared execute coup had CDNI–army elements not been encouraged by certain US groups in Laos.” According Phoui, his informants learned directly from CDNI and military that Generals Phoumi, Ouan and CDNI leaders, particularly Khamphan and Sopsaisana, had assured those of them who in past weeks expressed fears US support of CDNI and US military aid would cease in event takeover by threat of force that “US Ambassador only American backing Phoui government and that former would receive orders to ask new government as soon as formed what additional aid it desired.” “For past few weeks rumors also rife Vientiane that [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] has throughout crisis been guiding CDNI friends from [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] nearby, that CDNI to avenge Ambassador Smith’s dismissal of [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] had determined have Ambassasdor Smith shipped out as soon as new CDNI–military government formed.” Phoui confessed he himself had wondered whether such rumors not essentially true. (I explaned to him again that [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] had not been dismissed but had gone in normal rotation. Phoui merely remarked that [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] had made no secret of fact that he had not been due to leave for another two months.) Another story widely circulated by CDNI–military, Prime Minister said, was that “US aid granted by Congress not by State Department or Ambassador Smith; therefore Lao had nothing to fear from not following advice either latter.”

Phoui stated it absolute fact, not third hand, that General Amkha recently asked General Phoumi in front of other Generals how he expected US continue military aid if Phoui government ousted under [Page 724] military pressure? “Soldiers, he said, if US disavowed Generals’ action, would not be paid or fed and would soon desert.” Phoumi replied he had had “solemn assurances not from Ambassador Smith but from US authorities Vientiane most directly concerned2 that aid would go on regardless Ambassador Smith’s contrary recommendation and, in any event, FAL had on hand 3-month advance allocation funds.” (Queneau served as interpreter throughout conversation.)

I am transmitting above telegraphically because somewhat parallel accounts given Embassy officer by British and French intelligence based on various sources other than Phoui indicate they also believe CDNI–army must have considered they had sufficient assurances “not from Ambassador but from special services [less than 1 line of source text not declassified]” that US aid would continue regardless any action they might take against legitimate constitutional government. While too polite to say above British and French Ambassadors have clearly indicated not only to me but to Embassy officers that they feel warning that US aid would be suspended or strong intervention by UNSYG now only effective methods ensure avoiding dire consequences extremist actions CDNI left unchecked by friendly powers. Both Ambassadors remarked however that they did not consider it proper for them to suggest that US aid be suspended and therefore expressed intent concentrating on efforts to get SYG to supplement whatever individual or joint démarches US, British, French, Australian Embassies here may be authorized make.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files. 751J.00/1–260. Top Secret; Priority; [distribution indicator not declassified]. Received at 12:04 a.m., January 3.
  2. In telegram 1906 from Vientiane, January 2, [distribution indicator not declassified] Smith assured Parsons and Cumming that he did not believe that this reference was to PEO. Smith reported that Heintges had informed him that he favored an official warning to Ouan and Phoumi that U.S. military aid would be suspended if they took military action against a legitimate Lao government and that he had already informally warned them. (ibid., 751J.00/1–260; included in the microfiche supplement)