29. Letter From the Deputy Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs (Johnson) to Secretary General Pote Sarasin0

Dear Pote: I have delayed replying to your letter of April 181 in the hope that the situation with regard to a Council meeting would further [Page 62] clarify itself. However, as you know from Ken Young, there is still some uncertainty. We had hoped that there could be a meeting here in the Fall at the time of the UNGA, and that we could see you here at that time, but there is still opposition by some to this. My own feeling was that the urgency of a meeting was somewhat lessened in the light of the developments during Thanat’s visit,2 and that it would do more harm than good to air differences which were still irreconcilable. I certainly do not see SEATO drifting into oblivion for, as you know, it is still the fundamental basis for our policy in the area. I would hope that events in the last few days would have given reassurance to Thailand in this regard.

I have been closely following the development of the countersubversion office and felt it important that we first make sure that such an office could perform a real function. We also thought it important that there be a full common understanding on the functions of the office and that we distinguish rather carefully between our bilateral activities and the role of a SEATO office so as not to create new misunderstandings. Our feeling is that a SEATO office can make its greatest contribution if its function is technical and advisory rather than as a channel for bilateral assistance. On such a basis we are prepared to support it fully and to nominate a qualified candidate. I know that Ken Young has been keeping in touch with you on this.

It is always good to hear from you. Pat joins me in sending our kindest regards.


  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 379/4–1862. Personal. Drafted by Johnson with assistance from Peters.
  2. In this personal letter, Pote Sarasin stated that it was a great setback that the SEATO Council meeting was not held, because it was the most important event of the year. The lack of a meeting gave the impression that SEATO was breaking up. Pote Sarasin stated that such a meeting was a normal function of SEATO and if member nations took a negative attitude to the organization, it would certainly drift into oblivion. Secondly, Pote Sarasin suggested that the counter-subversion office of SEATO could only be effective if members took it seriously, and hoped that the United States would produce a good candidate to head the office. Pote Sarasin concluded that SEATO was being severely tested and negativism could cause its demise. (Ibid.)
  3. See Documents 11, 433, and 435.
  4. Printed from a copy that indicates Johnson signed the original.