56. Memorandum From Acting Secretary of State Ball to President Kennedy0
- The Burma Problem
In his memorandum dated April 23,1 Mr. Bundy expressed your concern over the situation in Burma and your wish to know whether there is anything we can do about it which we are not already doing.
Mr. Bundy also asked if there is any way in which we might get closer to Ne Win and influence him against pursuing “so pro-Chinese a course.”
The attached background paper reflects the Department’s opinion that Ne Win is following a course that is not particularly pro-Chinese by Burmese standards. Although his policies are not very helpful I see little to be done that we are not already doing, to influence the situation directly.
In view of the psychological bent of the Burmese we are limited to indirect means to influence the direction of Burmese policies and improve relations with the Ne Win regime.
Last year we invited Ne Win to visit the United States as a Presidential guest but he was unable to come. We will be watching for development of conditions in Burma which may make it appropriate to reextend this invitation. We are also keeping alert for opportunities to bring Ne Win in contact in Rangoon with important US officials and other Americans when this can be done without our appearing to be making special efforts to woo him. For example, we understand that Chester Bowles will be in the area in July and hope he will be able to visit Rangoon.
In our indirect efforts, we are seeking to enlist the help of non-Communist Asian nations. For example, we have tried to encourage Thailand to work with Burma to eliminate potential difficulties over Chinese Irregular troops still in the area. Also, we are suggesting that Souvanna and the Indian Government help promote Burmese understanding of the Laos problem.