427. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Thailand0

1134. Embtels 1098, 1124.1 President has agreed that in order relieve at least some of Thai concern re SEATO you should now give RTG full assurances and explanations regarding Manila Pact contained Deptel 1055.2 You should inform RTG these given with President’s personal approval. Suggest that if RTG desires this in writing you develop draft and submit to Dept for approval.

You should make clear to RTG that in view our obligations under SEATO we see no reason for bilateral treaty. View existing commitment under Manila Pact, it would be difficult defend need for such additional treaty to Congress. Feel certain Thanat must be aware of this from his talks here last October. You should stress also fact that RTG has in Manila Pact at least as much and perhaps more from US than we could give in bilateral (Deptel 1055).

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Do not understand what Thanat means by “neutral policy outside SEATO” with continued US security guarantees.3 This indicates he does not grasp fundamental fact US guarantees stem from Manila Pact. As you suggested to him Manila Pact is thus indispensable as instrument through which US assurances formalized and given substance. You should point out to RTG in strongest and clearest possible terms that if Thailand destroys SEATO by irresponsible and unwarranted actions such as proposed public statement or boycott Paris meeting it thereby destroys legal basis of our bilateral obligations.4

Appears from reftel that Thanat may actually accept validity US assurances you have given him. We therefore find it difficult understand his concern over whether possible future action by US would be called “SEATO action” or “action taken under the Manila Pact.” We have assured him our commitment under Article IV (1) of Pact not conditioned on prior unanimous consent all SEATO members. US could give no greater assurances at this time through other vehicle. Commitments other SEATO members are additional bonus for RTG. Discussion re what action called therefore appears miss fundamental point.

Regarding voting procedures you should if queried inform RTG we still studying subject and will be prepared discuss in near future.

You might wish remind RTG that as evidence our good faith and determination safeguard Thailand we have in past raised possibility stationing US combat troops in Thailand but this not acceptable to RTG. We now in process sending US engineer battalion to Thailand for road construction in move which has important by product increasing US military presence in area. Our offers build dams, assist in road construction and in many other fields are all evidence our good faith and real concern for continued well-being and friendship Thailand.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 379/2–362. Secret.
  2. In these telegrams, January 31 and February 3, Young reported that “we are heading into a tangle over SEATO,” and summarized a long list of hostile remarks by Sarit and Thanat about SEATO during the last few days’ discussions on Laos. (Ibid., 379/1–3162 and 379/2–362)
  3. Document 424.
  4. According to telegram 1098, Young asked Thanat what Thailand really wanted and Thanat answered “some form of Thai neutral policy outside of SEATO.” Young reported that Thanat stated that this solution would be the best thing for Thailand and the United States and assumed that U.S. security guarantees for Thailand would remain in being in some form. Thanat did not express, according to Young, any clear-cut concept and Young did not press him.
  5. In telegram 1777 from Bangkok, February 12, Young reported that he orally conveyed to Sarit and Thanat that the Manila Pact was the “indispensable legal instrument” for the U.S. commitment to Thailand, the commitment was not conditioned on prior unanimous consent of SEATO countries, and the United States would help defend Thailand against aggression by means short of armed attack at the same level it was doing so in South Vietnam. Young told Sarit that President Kennedy understood his concern. Sarit stated that an unchanged SEATO was an unacceptable guarantee for Thai security. “America is not SEATO and SEATO is not America,” Sarit maintained, “I don’t like action required by treaty.” (Department of State, Central Files, 379/2–1262)