246. Telegram From the Delegation to the Conference on Laos to the Department of State0

Confe 977. For Harriman from Sullivan.

I had two hour private session with Pushkin this morning in effort gauge his views re immediate conference future and re events Laos. He was cordial, frank, and relaxed.


Re Laos, he maintained at some length that only problem was “Nosavan clique” and its supporters, among which he listed US military advisers, who were counseling stubborn resistance rather than cooperation. He had confidence in Kennedy, Harriman and Brown, but was not sure they were in full control. He advised pressure be brought on Phoumi by curtailment US financial assistance.

I replied that US would use what influence it had, through means its own choosing, counsel Boun Oum and Phoumi reach honorable compromises. We expected hard bargaining prevail at Vientiane and had no way knowing what position shadowy Pathet Lao figures such as Kaysone and Nouhak would take but had seen no compromise from them in past. Would not presume suggest means by which Soviets should influence these men reach compromise, but trusted Abramov would be helpful. Suggested latter stay in touch with Brown. As for allegations military obstructionists, every country had its Stalinists, but I could assure Pushkin Brown was in control our policy Laos.


Re conference, I said ChiCom speech in Dec. 18 plenary had caused me concern because it appeared foreclose any possibility settlement either SEATO or private armies issues. I would appreciate Pushkin’s interpretation.

Pushkin attempted minimize importance ChiCom speech by saying it merely reflected bad relations between US and China. Went on at some length describe sequence events re SEATO and ended by saying formula which MacDonald had presented (i.e. reciprocal note taking by SEATO Council Reps and conference plenary) was satisfactory solution. He considered SEATO settled.

As for private armies he regretted fact that US persisted raising this issue. It could be settled only in Laos. Argument then followed course familiar to you, but ended on a note which I consider significant. This was Pushkin’s rather carefully phrased statement that he would not “turn formal logic into a matter of principle,” and would not reject [Page 544] entirely concept that language might be developed for inclusion in our documents “provided it did not violate principle of non-interference in internal administrative problems of Laos.”

He said that “all five” American texts which he had seen on this subject violated this principle. He listed five texts as (1) original American draft of Protocol, (2) draft given him by Harriman and (3), (4), and (5) those variations given him by MacDonald. When I pressed him for the sort of language which might be acceptable, he replied that such proposals were US problem; he preferred no language at all.

I did not carry conversation further, since I do not believe it would be fruitful at this juncture. However, I did repeat my understanding that he would be willing consider possibility including some language in documents if, in his interpretation, such language did not violate principle non-interference internal Lao administration. He nodded agreement.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 751J.00/12–2061. Secret. Repeated to Bangkok, London, Moscow, New Delhi, Paris, and Vientiane.