277. Letter From President Johnson to Prime Minister Thanom Kittikachorn1

Dear Mr. Prime Minister:

I thank you for your kind letter of May 25,2 which was received for me by Secretary Rusk at his meeting last week with Mr. Bunchana Atthakor, Deputy Minister of National Development in your cabinet.3

I know the concern that you must feel for your nation and its people at this time of crisis in Southeast Asia. I am closely aware of the problems presented to your country by this crisis, and particularly by events in Laos.

In your letter, Mr. Prime Minister, you referred to Americaʼs defense commitments in various parts of the world. Americaʼs defense commitment to Thailand is clear, and as I said when we met in Bangkok in 1961, “America keeps its commitments”.

We regard Communist advances in Laos as a threat to the security of the United States as well as that of Thailand. In accordance with this concept, I have authorized Ambassador Martin to open consultations with you looking toward joint Thai-US military planning of measures to be taken in the event of a Communist drive toward the borders of Thailand. I understand joint planning meetings will begin in Bangkok this week. We must be prepared to act promptly and effectively to check such a drive if necessary.

At same time, we must overlook no opportunity for a peaceful settlement which preserves the interests of our two nations. For this reason we are willing to undertake consultations such as those in which we are mutually engaged in Vientiane, and we would be willing to see convened consultations such as those recently proposed by the Poles.

We believe, however, that Communist acceptance of the preconditions laid down by Prime Minister Souvanna Phouma of Laos must precede any convention of a conference on Laos such as that held in Geneva in 1962.

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Our willingness to keep the door open to negotiations must not be mistaken either by our friends or our enemies as reflecting any wavering of our resolve. It does reflect truly our purpose, which is peace. But the Americans who have died to check the spread of Communism in the Far East, those who even now are dying for that cause, provide the most eloquent testimony of our determination that peace shall not be bought at the cost of freedom.


Lyndon B. Johnson
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Thailand, Vol. V, 10/66–2/67. Secret. This letter was transmitted to Bangkok in telegram 2315, June 19, and was drafted by Pickering, cleared by Trueheart, William Bundy, McGeorge Bundy, and Rusk. (Department of State, Central Files, POL 1 ASIA SE–US)
  2. Not printed. (Johnson Library, National Security File, Special Head of State Correspondence, Prime Minister Thanom)
  3. An account of the Rusk-Atthakor meeting of June 10 is in telegram 2247 to Bangkok, June 10. (Department of State, Central Files, POL 1 ASIA SE–CHICOM) A summary of a memorandum left by Atthakor with Rusk, in which the Thai Government requested that the United States provide a pool of road building equipment and additional funds for assistance in the Northeast, is in telegram 2260 to Bangkok, June 11. (Ibid., Central Files, AID (US) THAI)