430. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Thailand 0
Washington, February 17, 1962, 4:31 p.m.
1234. For Attorney General from Harriman.
- At direction of President this supplements Deptel 929.1
- If Sarit becomes “rough”2 President feels not necessary for you just to take it but at your discretion you may “hit back” without of course getting into useless recriminations. Following suggested for your consideration in consultation Young.
- President is determined on Lao policy of seeking peaceful solution and convinced that it is right one. Long run success of coalition government requires continuing support by all concerned. He feels it in Thai best interests as well as our own. He had thought Sarit had come to agree on this during months of negotiation and was therefore startled to learn that Sarit had at least at one time been advising and encouraging Phoumi behind our back to resist US advice and counsel. It is Phoumi’s intransigence that so far has blocked formation Souvanna coalition government and thus peaceful solution for Laos. Sarit actions vis-à-vis Phoumi are partly responsible for Phoumi attitude and therefore Sarit can be partly blamed for present impasse. We are glad that Sarit has now apparently abandoned this tack despite personal reservations on outcome this policy. All friends of Phoumi and supporters of free independent Laos must speak with one voice to Phoumi. We count on Sarit to use his influence to bring Phoumi to reason. There is great danger in any other course.
- Source: Department of State, Central Files, 751J.00/2–1762. Secret; Niact. Drafted by Koren; cleared by U. Alexis Johnson and McGeorge Bundy; and approved by Harriman. Repeated to Vientiane.↩
- In telegram 929, February 16, Harriman informed Robert Kennedy that he regretted that Sarit involved the Attorney General “in the jungle of Lao problem.” Harriman suggested that if Sarit raised the question, Robert Kennedy should reply that it was not the purpose of his visit to discuss Laos, but he would be prepared to listen to Sarit’s views. Harriman then provided background on U.S. policy for the Attorney General’s benefit. (Ibid.)↩
- On February 8, Sarit informed the press he planned to ask Robert Kennedy very direct questions about Laos: what did the United States intend to do; would it allow Laos to go neutral and then Communist; who would rid Laos of the Communists when they took over. (Telegram 1182 from Bangkok, February 12; ibid., 033.1100-KE/2–1262)↩