10. Memorandum From the SEATO Adviser, Bureau of Far Eastern Affairs (Peters) to the Deputy Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs (Johnson)0


  • Memorandum to the President on SEATO

John Steeves telephoned this morning to say that the Secretary has decided against signing the memorandum to the President on SEATO,1 on the ground that it would be unacceptable to the British and the French and would, in any event, be turned down on the Hill. When John asked what we do instead if Thanat presses the point, the Secretary seemed to have no specific idea for the immediate future. Accordingly, John thought that we could only repeat our previous reassurances, reaffirm our support of SEATO and otherwise listen to what Thanat has to say. John is having dinner with Thanat tonight (Tuesday) at the latter’s request and believes he will then ascertain what he has in mind.

John reports that in discussing the subject the Secretary again expressed interest in finding a way to dismantle the organization in lieu of a regional grouping by the nations of the area. He suggested that we might offer as an inducement to dissolve SEATO after they had formed a regional association. He seemed to be thinking in terms of a grouping for economic purposes, their security being assured by bilaterals from us and perhaps some overall guarantee under which we would play a secondary role. (This, of course, is the independent nations zone idea. John told the Secretary that we have explored this ground, know its advantages and pitfalls, and that thus far we have felt that any move to dissolve SEATO at this juncture would constitute an unacceptable defeat for U.S. policy.)

John said that Sihanouk independently had discussed his proposal along these lines when they met him yesterday.2 He described the conditions under which he would be an active promoter of regionalism which he said was incapable of realization so long as SEATO exists.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 790.5/9–1961. Secret.
  2. Attachment to Document 9.
  3. No other record of the SihanoukSteeves conversation has been found. Sihanouk was in the United States to attend the U.N. General Assembly session.