189. Telegram From the Embassy in France to the Department of State 1
171. From Governor Harriman. At noon July 8, I had one-hour conversation with Souvanna followed by luncheon with Prince and Princess, Lao Ambassador and wife, Mrs. Harriman and members Embassy staff.2 Prince said his present plans called for meeting with De Gaulle and lunch with Couve de Murville on July 12, London visit July 20–21, Moscow July 24, New Delhi July 28 and return to Vientiane prior August 2 to attend marriage of King’s son in Luang Prabang; indicated Princess and youngest son intended join him in New Delhi to proceed Vientiane.
Main points of conversation:
- I expressed our admiration for leadership and courage shown by Prince in dealing with difficult problems faced by his country and assured him continued support and cooperation of U.S. in difficult task preserving Laos independence. Added that we respected RLG military effort and particularly performance of officer cadets in defeating PL/DRVN attacks. Prince expressed appreciation for U.S. support and indicated his determination to continue on same course.
- I stressed our continued support for 1962 Geneva Agreements and noted importance RLG maintaining strong position by making clear responsibility for any breach lay with PL and Communist side. Prince fully agreed noting that after coming elections he intended reappoint PL ministers to their present posts, knowing of course they would not occupy them. In this connection, Prince said that every effort must be made not to embarrass Soviets and to make it easier for them to support RLG, with which I expressed full agreement.
- Prince said he attached great importance to persuading USSR and UK, as co-chairmen 1962 agreements, to reconvene the conference of 1954. He noted that this much more satisfactory to him than reconvening conference on 1962 agreements since he had laid down a prior condition to latter, namely, that all PL troops be withdrawn from the Plaine des Jarres; reconvening 1954 conference would permit participation Laos without fulfillment such precondition and would permit discussion of any aspect problems of three countries former Indochina. He said he had [Page 376] expressed his desire that 1954 conference be reconvened to Soviet and UK Ambassadors prior his departure to Vientiane and they had referred to govts. He intended press matter both in London and Moscow during upcoming visits. I assured him such proposal had our full support but stressed importance his presenting idea purely as his own. Prince indicated full agreement and understanding.
- On Viet Nam, I pointed out President had made clear willingness have discussions without preconditions but in light Communist rejection all proposals for talks, determination to continue defend South Viet Nam including bombing. Prince replied he happy our policy in SVN so firm and agreed bombing should continue, noting that bombing of routes from North Viet Nam into Laos had already made it impossible for Communists to launch planned spring offensive and permitted RLG establish control in large areas.
- Indicating I assumed Prince would continue head government for some time even beyond the five years he had undertaken, I asked if younger men were being developed and showing promise. In reply he stated only that he thought Sisouk showed greatest promise among younger men. In this connection, it was noted that all RLG ministers would be back in Vientiane for elections.
- Referring to President’s SEA development proposal,3 I said we hoped Prince would show active interest in such program as it must have broad Asian sponsorship. Prince replied he thought establishment of Asian Bank highly important and that he would of course support all development efforts in area. He indicated particular interest in Nam Ngum Dam project, noting with appreciation that he understood U.S. expert had just recommended planning capacity should be increased to 80,000 kw and that U.S. support be augmented; added he thought we wise to try to obtain participation as many other countries as possible in development Laos and SEA. In this connection, he said he intended ask Soviets in Moscow to contribute to program, pointing out that RLG supported Soviets claim to be Asian power and that Soviets should prove they truly Asian by supporting SEA development. I assured him we would welcome Soviet participation in this effort.
- With particular reference India, Prince said he disappointed in their performance as far back as first Bandung conference when Nehru showed he dominated by Chou En-lai; he still disappointed but considered it essential India remain as Chairman ICC and that it adopt more realistic attitude toward Asian problems. I commented that we were helping Indian military build-up against possible future ChiCom ag [Page 377] gression but we concerned that Shastri, while agreeing our position in SVN privately, publicly called for cessation our bombardments; said I thought Indians might be better advised to call for cessation of hostilities by both sides. Prince said disappointment with India had led him make strong effort increase roles both Soviets and Japan in this area.
- Other subjects touched on included: Souvanna’s request to move Phoumi to south Thailand; irresponsible activities of Sukarno and Sihanouk; strengthening moderates at Algiers Conference; Souvanna’s opinion of relationship between Moscow, Peking, Hanoi and character NLF (details in airgram).4
- Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 7 US/HARRIMAN. Confidential; Limdis. Repeated to Vientiane, London, Moscow, and New Delhi.↩
- In telegram 17 from Vientiane to Paris, July 7, Sullivan suggested that Harriman, who agreed to meet with Souvanna Phouma, make three essential points: U.S. willingness to “see it through in Vietnam”; U.S. continued adherence to the 1962 Geneva Agreements and the Kennedy-Khrushchev understanding on Laos at Vienna in June 1961; and the need for reform and new blood in the Lao Government. (Ibid.)↩
- Reference is to President Johnson’s request for an additional $89 million for a Southeast Asia Aid program, the text of which is printed in American Foreign Policy: Current Documents, 1965, pp. 696–698.↩
- Not further identified.↩