The Foreign Relations of the United States series presents the official documentary historical record of major United States foreign policy decisions and significant diplomatic activity of the United States Government. The series documents the formulation of policies including important alternative views which were not adopted.

The Historian of the Department of State is responsible for the preparation of the Foreign Relations series. The editing of the series in the Office of the Historian, Bureau of Public Affairs, is guided by principles of historical objectivity and accuracy. Documents are not altered or excised without indicating where changes have been made. Every effort is made to identify lacunae in the record and to explain why they have occurred. Certain omissions may be necessary to protect national security or to condense the record and avoid needless repetition. The published record, however, omits no facts that were of major importance in reaching a decision, and nothing has been excluded for the purpose of concealing or glossing over a defect in policy.

At the time of the compilation of this volume in 1985 and 1986, the Department was guided in the preparation of the Foreign Relations series by official regulations first promulgated by Secretary of State Frank B. Kellogg on March 26, 1925. A new statutory charter for the preparation of the Foreign Relations series was established by Title IV of Public Law 102–138, the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, Fiscal Years 1992 and 1993, which was signed by the President on October 28, 1991. That new charter requires that the Foreign Relations series “shall be a thorough, accurate, and reliable documentary record of major United States foreign policy decisions and significant United States diplomatic activity.” The new charter also requires that the Foreign Relations series be published “not more than 30 years after the events recorded.”

Structure and Scope of the Foreign Relations of the United States Series

This volume is part of a subseries of volumes that documents the most important issues in the foreign policy of President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s administration for the years 1958 through 1960. In planning [Page IV] the 1958–1960 triennium, the editors chose to present U.S. policy toward East Asia in five separate volumes. Volume I is devoted to U.S. relations with and policy toward Vietnam during the opening stages of the second Indochina war. Volume XVI presents the record of U.S. policy toward Cambodia and Laos as well as as an overview of U.S. regional policy for East Asia. Since the conflict in Vietnam greatly affected neighboring Cambodia and Laos, the contents of volume XVI are closely related to those in volume I. There is also a close relationship between volume XVI and the other East Asia volumes: XV, South and Southeast Asia (with compilations on Thailand and the Philippines); XVII, Japan and Indonesia; and XVIII, China and Korea.

A combined microfiche supplement for volumes XV and XVI contains un-annotated compilations of key papers on U.S. relations with Burma and Singapore and Malaya, as well as supplementary documents on U.S. regional policy in East Asia and on Cambodia and Laos.

Sources for the Foreign Relations Series

The law requires that the published record contained in the Foreign Relations series must reflect all major foreign policy decisions and activities and include relevant documentation from all government agencies and entities involved in foreign policy formulation, execution, or support. The historical records of the Presidents and their national security advisers together with the still larger body of documentation in the Department of State are the principal sources for the Foreign Relations series. The National Archives and Records Administration, including the Presidential libraries that it administers, is the main repository and coordinating authority for historical government records and a major source for the documents and information included in the series. Specific sources used in preparing this volume are described in detail in the List of Sources, pages XIIIXVII.

Principles of Selection for Foreign Relations, 1958–1960, Volume XVI

In selecting documents, the editors placed primary consideration on the formulation of U.S. policy in the Eisenhower administration and on the most significant U.S. diplomatic and military relationships with foreign governments. The formal institutional records of the National Security Council, both memoranda of discussion and the numbered papers, have been carefully examined and extensively included. The editors had complete access to memoranda of discussion at National Security Council (NSC) meetings and other institutional NSC documents included in the Whitman File at the Eisenhower Library, as well as more informal foreign policy materials in that file and in other [Page V] collections at the Eisenhower Library. These Presidential files were supplemented by copies of NSC and White House documents in Department of State files.

During the 1958–1960 period, the Department of State had the lead in the formulation and execution of policy. Secretaries John Foster Dulles and Christian A. Herter advised President Eisenhower, and they and their assistants took part in the deliberations of the National Security Council and its ancillary bodies. The Department was also foremost in exchanges of views and negotiations on policy matters with foreign governments. The editors had complete access to all Department of State files: the central decimal files; the special collections of the Executive Secretariat; the various specialized decentralized (lot) files originally maintained by Department policymakers at the bureau, office, and division level; and the embassy files of the pertinent Foreign Service posts.

The editors also had access to Records of the Office of the Secretary of Defense maintained by the Washington National Records Center and to declassified JCS files at the National Archives. Copies of classified JCS materials were obtained from the Joint Staff on a request basis. National Intelligence Estimates and Special National Intelligence Estimates for this triennium were available from the Bureau of Intelligence and Research, Department of State.

One principal emphasis of the compilation on the East Asia-Pacific region is the formulation of major regional policies at the highest level of the U.S. Government, as documented by the discussions and the policy papers of the National Security Council. Another major emphasis is the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization and the ANZUS Pact. The editors reconstructed a selective but representative record of each of the three annual meetings at the foreign minister level of SEATO and of the consultations, formal and informal, among the ANZUS foreign ministers. Other crucial components of the compilation include the activities of the SEATO Military Advisers and various proposals for a SEATO role in the resolution of the Laos crisis. A small selection of documents treats the evolution of U.S. economic policy in the region, with emphasis on the rejection of proposals for massive U.S. assistance in favor of the encouragement of regional economic and technical cooperation.

The microfiche supplement contains a larger selection of materials on economic topics such as the Colombo Plan, documents regarding views exchanged at special conferences of U.S. Chiefs of Mission in East Asian posts, and other materials supplementary to the topics outlined above.

Documents in the printed compilation on the East Asia-Pacific region are primarily of NSC, White House, and Department of State origin, with a small portion coming from the Joint Chiefs of Staff and [Page VI] the Department of Defense. During the declassification review of the original manuscript for the compilation, deletions were made from the record of multilateral diplomacy in the print volume. The deletions, made principally for the purpose of protecting information received from and given to foreign governments in confidence, do not, in the opinion of the editors, substantially impair the comprehensiveness of the overview of U.S. foreign policy and national security deliberations presented in the documentation originally selected.

The focus for the Cambodia compilation is the friction between South Vietnam and Cambodia over border incidents and the attempt by the government of Ngo Dinh Diem to overthrow Cambodia’s leader, Prince Norodom Sihanouk. The assessments and recommendations of the U.S. missions in Saigon, Bangkok, and Phnom Penh were especially important in documenting these tensions. The focus shifts partly back to Washington in 1958 when the Eisenhower administration debated the issue of reducing U.S. assistance to Cambodia as a penalty for closer relations with the Sino-Soviet bloc. The Eisenhower administration handled a 1960 Cambodian request for jet aircraft and jet training of pilots at the interagency level under the auspices of the NSC, placing the focus of policy again in Washington at the interagency level.

The ability of the United States to discover and then to discourage South Vietnamese subversion against Cambodia involved the U.S. intelligence community. The editors consulted documents originated by the Central Intelligence Agency that are in the Eisenhower Library and the Department of Defense. That research was accomplished with the full cooperation and assistance of the CIA.

While the editors are satisfied that the broad outline of the choices facing U.S. policymakers and the main courses of action taken by the Eisenhower administration are adequately covered, the need to protect intelligence methods and sources (which also applies to material obtained from the Central Intelligence Agency) meant that some of the details of U.S. policy in Cambodia were not declassified. Current foreign policy considerations required that the details of the tension between Cambodia and another of its neighbors not be cleared for publication. Nevertheless, the documents on Cambodia printed and cited in this volume and included in the microfiche supplement give a good overall picture of U.S. policy toward and relations with Cambodia.

Most of the documents printed or cited in the Cambodian compilation are from the central files and from some selected decentralized or “lot” files of the Department of State. A small but significant portion of the records are from the Department of Defense’s Assistant Secretary for International Security Affairs Office and from the records [Page VII] of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. President’s Eisenhower’s interest in Cambodia was limited and the documentation printed and cited from the Eisenhower Library is mostly of a briefing and informational nature.

The Laos compilation comprises the greatest part of this volume, reflecting the fact that during the 1958–1960 period the Pathet Lao insurgency grew from a small conflict into the Eisenhower administration’s last major crisis in East Asia. The focus of the compilation alternates between Washington, Vientiane, and Bangkok. The volume begins with a visit to Washington by Lao Prime Minister Souvanna Phouma and concentrates on his discussions with high-ranking Eisenhower administration officials. In early summer 1958, the emphasis shifts to the elections in Laos for the supplemental seats in the National Assembly. The extent to which the United States was prepared to assist anti-communist candidates is documented in some detail. Until the so-called “emergency” in mid–1959, the compilation concentrates on events in Laos. With the threat to Laos from the Pathet Lao and possibly from North Vietnam, Washington policymakers considered some far-reaching alternatives in Laos.

When the emergency receded in late 1959, the lack of coordination among U.S. Government agencies supporting different Lao anticommunist factions became more apparent. Here the need to protect intelligence sources and methods has somewhat blurred the record of the competition among various agencies for control of U.S. policy in Laos. Nevertheless, the reader can discern the broad outline of the conflict. That the Thai Government had close ties to Lao anti-communist politicians is already well-known. Both U.S.-Thai mutuality of interest and U.S.-Thai disagreement over policy in Laos is documented adequately, but sometimes the details of the implementation of joint Thai-U.S. policy have not been declassified.

While the Department of State’s decimal files make up the bulk of the documents used for this compilation, there was strong interagency involvement, especially in crisis periods. Therefore, records from the files of the Eisenhower Library, the Secretary of Defense, the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff are included more extensively in the Laos than in the Cambodia compilation. At the Eisenhower Library, the NSC records in the Whitman File document the National Security Council’s discussions of Laos; and the White House Office Files, Staff Secretary’s Records, International Series, and Eisenhower Diaries contain briefing material for the President on the situation in Laos. Secretary of State Christian Herter’s telephone conversations concerning Laos are in the Herter Papers at the Eisenhower Library. The Joint Chiefs of Staff records are particularly useful in delineating the U.S. role in the 1958 [Page VIII] supplemental elections in Laos. Department of Defense records make up a significant portion of the documents printed, cited, and included in the microfiche supplement.

The editors wish to acknowledge the assistance of officials at the Dwight D. Eisenhower Library, in particular David Haight, and the Department of Defense, especially Sandra Meagher, who assisted in the collection of documents for this volume.

Completion of the declassification of this printed volume and the microfiche supplement, and the final steps of their preparation for publication, coincided with the development of procedures since early 1991 by the Central Intelligence Agency in cooperation with the Department of State that have expanded access by Department historians to high-level intelligence documents from among those records still in the custody of the Central Intelligence Agency. The Department of State chose not to postpone the publication of this volume to ascertain how such access might affect the scope of available documentation and the changes that might be made in the contents of this particular volume. The Department of State, however, is making good use of these new procedures, which have been arranged by the CIA’s History Staff, for the compilation of future volumes in the Foreign Relations series.

The declassification review process for this print volume resulted in the withholding from publication of 3 percent of the documents originally selected. Most of this material was in the Cambodia and Laos compilations and was withheld for the reasons described above. The remaining documents provide a full account of the major foreign policy issues and policies confronting the Eisenhower administration in East Asia, Cambodia, and Laos.

Editorial Methodology

The documents are presented chronologically according to Washington time. Incoming telegrams from U.S. missions are placed according to time of receipt in the Department of State or other receiving agency, rather than the time of transmission; memoranda of conversation are placed according to the time and date of the conversation, rather than the date the memorandum was drafted.

Editorial treatment of the documents published in the Foreign Relations series follows Office style guidelines, supplemented by guidance from the General Editor and the chief technical editor. The source text is reproduced as exactly as possible, including marginalia or other notations, which are described in the footnotes. Obvious typographical errors are corrected, but other mistakes and omissions in the source text are corrected by bracketed insertions: a correction is set in italic type; an addition in roman type. Bracketed insertions are also used to indicate text that deals with an unrelated subject (in roman type) or [Page IX] that remains classified after declassification review (in italic type). The amount of material not declassified has been noted by indicating the number of lines or pages of source text that were omitted. The amount of material omitted because it was unrelated, however, is not accounted for. All ellipses and brackets that appear in the source text are so identified by footnotes.

The first footnote to each document indicates the document’s source, original classification, distribution, and drafting information. The source footnote also provides the background of important documents and policies and indicates if the President or his major policy advisers read the document. Every effort has been made to determine if a document has been previously published, and this information has been included in the source footnote.

Editorial notes and additional annotation summarize pertinent material not printed in this volume, indicate the location of additional documentary sources, provide references to important related documents printed in other volumes, describe key events, and provide summaries of and citations to public statements that supplement and elucidate the printed documents. Information derived from memoirs and other first-hand accounts have been used when appropriate to supplement or explicate the official record.

Declassification Review

The Division of Historical Documents Review of the Office of Freedom of Information, Privacy, and Classification Review, Bureau of Diplomatic Security, Department of State conducted the declassification review of the documents contained in this volume. The review was conducted in accordance with the standards set forth in Executive Order 12356 on National Security Information and applicable laws.

Under Executive Order 12356, information that concerns one or more of the following categories, and the disclosure of which reasonably could be expected to cause damage to the national security, requires classification:

military plans, weapons, or operations;
the vulnerabilities or capabilities of systems, installations, projects, or plans relating to the national security;
foreign government information;
intelligence activities (including special activities), or intelligence sources or methods;
foreign relations or foreign activities of the United States;
scientific, technological, or economic matters relating to national security;
U.S. Government programs for safeguarding nuclear materials or facilities;
cryptology; or
a confidential source.

[Page X]

The principle guiding declassification review is to release all information, subject only to the current requirements of national security and law. Declassification decisions entailed concurrence of the appropriate geographic and functional bureaus in the Department of State, other concerned agencies of the U.S. Government, and the appropriate foreign governments regarding specific documents of those governments.


Under the supervision of former Editor in Chief John P. Glennon, David W. Mabon collected, selected, and edited the multilateral compilation and Edward C. Keefer the compilations on Cambodia and Laos. Dr. Mabon planned the volume and conducted the initial review. General Editor Glenn W. LaFantasie supervised the final steps in the editorial and publication process. Rita M. Baker and Althea W. Robinson did the technical editing. Barbara A. Bacon of the Publishing Services Division (Natalie H. Lee, Chief) oversaw the production of the volume. Breffni Whalen prepared the index.

William Z. Slany
The Historian
Bureau of Public Affairs

March 1992