229. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Presentation of Credentials by Lao Ambassador


  • The President
  • Mr. Samuel D. Berger, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Far Eastern Affairs
  • Mr. James W. Symington, Chief of Protocol
  • Mr. Chester C. Carter, Deputy Chief of Protocol
  • Mr. Norman Armour, Jr., Assistant Chief of Protocol
  • Ambassador Khamking Souvanlasy

After the formal presentation of credentials the group moved to the Treaty Room where the President and the Ambassador had a brief talk.

In reply to the President’s query concerning the current situation in Laos, the Ambassador said that when he left there were no political problems and there had been practically none over the past year. However, the recent attacks by Pathet Lao and North Vietnamese forces in the Attopeu area had worsened the military situation.

The President asked how Prime Minister Souvanna Phouma felt about the situation and the Ambassador replied that the Prime Minister was very much encouraged by the improvement in the political situation over the past two years, to the extent of feeling optimistic about the future. Because the military situation remained difficult he continued to rely on assistance from friendly nations, and particularly from the U.S. in containing invasion and aggression. The Ambassador added that both Souvanna Phouma and the King were following with apprehension the developments in Vietnam, as they were fully aware of the repercussions on Laos of the unfortunate turn of events in Vietnam.

The President commented that we were deeply distressed over the present state of the Government of Vietnam, and that we hoped some measure of stability might be attained. From a military standpoint, we were daily increasing an already substantial commitment. There was no doubt that the attitude of the Government of Vietnam regarding its political stability would affect what we might do.

The Ambassador said that Laos had been encouraged by the visits of the Vice President and of Ambassador Harriman. He noted that both had given Laos assurances of U.S. support and friendship. As a consequence [Page 455] Laos felt more capable of defending and safeguarding its sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity, and neutrality.

The President remarked that he had received very good reports from both the Vice President and Mr. Harriman. The Vice President had been anxious to include Laos on his itinerary, to follow up on the contacts he had previously made with Lao leaders. The Vice President was encouraged by the progress he had noted.

The very cordial meeting ended with a friendly exchange of amenities.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 17–1 LAOS–US. Confidential. Drafted by DeSebera of Language Services and James P. Murphy of SEA, neither of whom are cited as participants. Approved in the White House on April 16.