11. Memorandum From the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs (Johnson) to Secretary of State Rusk 0


  • Talk with Thai Foreign Minister

Following are the principal points made by Thanat in a long private conversation I had with him Saturday1 night:

Thailand is determined to make the attempt to “do something” about SEATO. Government and public dissatisfaction is increasing. Their first preference would be for withdrawal of France and, secondly, that of the U.K. However, they realize that this is probably not practical politics. Their next preference would be for a change in voting procedures so as to permit decisions by majority or three-fourths vote.
If neither of the foregoing can be accomplished by the time of the next SEATO Council meeting, Thailand will, in all probability, announce its withdrawal from SEATO.
If changes necessary to make SEATO an effective organization cannot be accomplished and Thailand thus withdraws, it hopes very much to enter into a bilateral defense pact with the United States. The possibility of withdrawal from SEATO should not be interpreted as forecasting an attempt on the part of Thailand to recast its policy towards neutralism. It wants stronger rather than weaker defense arrangements.
SEATO does inhibit the strengthening of Thai regional relationships, not so much because it is SEATO but because of, first, French, and secondly, U.K. membership in SEATO, arising from those two countries’ previous colonial associations in the area. A bilateral defense pact with the United States would not inhibit the growth of Thailand’s regional associations.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 790.5/9–2661. Secret. Initialed by Rusk. For additional documentation, see Documents 433 and 435.
  2. September 23.