279. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Courtesy Call


  • The President
  • William P. Bundy, Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs
  • Laurence G. Pickering, Officer-in-Charge, Thai Affairs
  • H.E. General Prapass Charusathiara, Deputy Prime Minister of Thailand
  • H.E. Sukich Nimmanheminda, Ambassador of Thailand
  • Dr. Malai Huvanandana, Deputy Under Secretary of the Ministry of Interior of Thailand
  • (Ambassador Sukich acted as interpreter)

Following an exchange of amenities and gifts, the President recalled with pleasure his earlier meeting with General Prapass in Bangkok in May of 1961. The President went on to express his deep appreciation for the support Thailand is providing to the Free World effort in Southeast Asia, mentioning specifically the T–28 pilots and the artillerymen now in Laos.

Mr. Bundy noted that the Deputy Prime Minister was to be congratulated for his excellent support of programs to further economic development in the critical Northeastern area, which borders on Laos. General Prapass said that these programs, and many others, were being carried out to give the people of Thailand a real incentive to fight against communism. He cited as an example of another such program the self-help land settlement program, under which undeveloped land is made available to landless farmers. The President agreed that if the people own their own land, their incentive for defending their country is greatly increased.

General Prapass expressed thanks for the economic assistance provided his country through USOM. The President acknowledged the Generalʼs thanks. He said that his Administration would fight for a good foreign aid bill for this year, and expressed confidence that a good one would be enacted.

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General Prapass said that at the time he left Thailand he had noted considerable concern about US determination to take the necessary actions in Southeast Asia. He said this concern was created largely by statements in the Congress and in the press to the effect that the US effort and investment in Southeast Asia were mere waste, creating the impression that the US might be planning to abandon Southeast Asia. However, he added, the subsequent strong statements made by the President, plus the appointments of General Taylor and Ambassador Johnson, had completely removed this concern according to reports received from the Prime Minister since arriving here. The President expressed great pleas-ure at this news. He said he hoped that General Prapass would tell the newsmen of the US that some of the things we were doing had in fact helped the situation in an important Southeast Asian country.

The President concluded by saying that so long as Thailand continued its fight against communism, it could rely fully on the continued friendship and support of the US.

As he was preparing to leave, General Prapass expressed his heartfelt thanks to the President for making it possible for him to have the successful operation for cataracts at the Walter Reed Hospital.2

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Thailand, Vol. I, Memos, 11/63–11/64. Secret; Limit Distribution. Drafted by Pickering. The meeting took place at the White House. According to the Presidentʼs Daily Diary, July 24, this meeting began at 6:25 and lasted until 6:40. (Ibid.) In a July 24 briefing memorandum to the President Thomson and Komer informed Johnson that his meeting with Prapass (Praphat) “is basically to butter up Thailandʼs probable next Prime Minister.” (Ibid., National Security File, Country File, Thailand, Vol. I, Memos, 11/63–11/64) Rusk and Harriman also sent Johnson a briefing memorandum, July 23. (Ibid.)
  2. On July 11, just after his operation, Prapass and other Thai officials met with William Bundy and other Department of State officials at Walter Reed Hospital. Their conversation was similar to the conversation between Prapass and the President. (Memorandum of conversation, July 11; Department of State, Central Files, POL 27 VIET S) On July 30 Prapass met with Secretary of Defense McNamara and other U.S. officials at the Pentagon. They discussed the situation in Laos, Northeast Thailand—where McNamara encouraged Prapass to stress special forces over conventional military forces—South Vietnam, and specific Thai-U.S. bilateral military issues. (Memorandum of conversation, July 30; Washington National Records Center, RG 330, OASD/ISA Files; FRC 68 A 306, 333 Thailand)