169. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Cambodia


  • Ambassador Anatoliy F. Dobrynin, USSR
  • Llewellyn E. Thompson, Ambassador-at-Large, Department of State

I gave the Ambassador a copy of our press release on the question of actions our troops were authorized to take in self-defense along the Cambodian border.2 I said that I thought the American press had great exaggerated and distorted the significance of this development.

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Dobrynin said, from the statement in the press release, what did this really mean, that our troops would be making deep incursions into Cambodia or bombing Cambodian targets?

I replied in the negative and said that this was actually confined to situations in which there was a real need to shoot back in self-defense in order to preserve the lives of our troops involved.

Dobrynin asked how he should report this. Was this an official statement?

I replied that it was purely an informal explanation of our policy but that I could tell him, for his own information, that it was done at the suggestion of the Secretary. He expressed his appreciation and said that he had been confused, and he thought that the diplomats in Washington with whom he had discussed the matter, had also misunderstood what was involved.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 32–1 CAMB–VIET S. Secret. Drafted by Thompson and approved in S/AL on December 23.
  2. Apparent reference to a press release based on a statement made by the Deputy Director of the Office of News, Department of State, on December 21. For text, see American Foreign Policy: Current Documents, 1965, pp. 919–920.