21. Telegram From the Embassy in Thailand to the Department of State0

1236. Rome for Attorney General Kennedy. Attorney General made courtesy call on SEATO SecGen Pote Sarasin mid-afternoon Feb. 19. In response Attorney General’s query Pote said main needs of SEATO were emphasis on unity and US leadership. Added that SEATO had served deter overt aggression but must now address itself to subversive threat. Said he convinced non-SEATO Asian countries also recognize their freedom depends on US support. Inquired whether US considers SEATO important in context overall US strategy.

Attorney General acknowledged certain drawbacks inherent in democratic association free nations; noted US had differences with allies here also and could not dictate to them as could leader Communist bloc. Said he realized some SEATO members have smaller stake in SEA than US; however such drawbacks more than offset by military, economic and psychological advantages of collective action. Thus US regards SEATO as important, but at same time will fulfill its commitments under treaty irrespective of actions of other members.

Attorney General agreed US called on provide leadership. Said President and administration realize US support needed by many countries [Page 49] and fully prepared to provide it particularly where will of people and government to help themselves provides basis for effective US assistance. Explained that in case Laos apparent absence such basis and extremely difficult logistic situation weighed more heavily in US decision seek peaceful settlement than did caution of certain allies. (Contrasted conditions in Vietnam where US able give effective help and is determined to win. Expressed confidence conditions in Thailand would permit similar US support if need should arise.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 033.1100–KE/2–2062. Confidential. Repeated to Canberra, London, Manila, Karachi, Paris, Wellington, CINCPACPOLAD, and priority to Rome.