16. Memorandum From the President’s Deputy Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Rostow) to President Kennedy0


  • Laos Task Force Meeting, Tuesday, February 14, 1961
As Parsons has informed you, our neutralization proposal is now being communicated to governments in all directions.1
The question of the timing and character of the communication to the USSR is still not decided; but it will be discussed this week by Parsons, Thompson and Bohlen.
General Phoumi’s offensive is going very slowly. It is meeting severe resistance. The level of support through the Soviet airlift has been expanded. They evidently understand, at least as well as we do, the role of controlling the Plaine des Jarres in the inevitable negotiations about the political constitution of the Laos government. There is some anxiety that General Phoumi understand clearly that the launching of our diplomatic initiative should not be an occasion to slacken his efforts. A cable on the relation between the diplomacy and military action in Laos will be dispatched.2
There is no shortage of supplies; and no need to consider an alteration in your decision on the airfield.
Parsons would like you to be alerted to the possibility that your assistance might conceivably be invoked in either of the two following circumstances: either to help push the King of Laos into accepting our proposal; or your personally welcoming this proposal when he puts it forward.
  1. Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Countries Series, Laos General, 2/8/61–2/15/61. Top Secret.
  2. In a memorandum to Parsons, February 14, Anderson summarized international reactions to the U.S. proposal for a neutralized Laos. Pakistan, Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, and Thailand all favored the idea. France welcomed it, but feared it was too late to be effective. King Savang and Phoumi also favored the concept. Only the Philippines was noncommittal. (Ibid.)
  3. Telegram 865 to Vientiane, February 14. (Department of State, Central Files, 751J.00/2–1461)