48. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon 1


  • U.S. Relations with Cambodia

Secretary Rogers has recommended (Tab I),2 the issuance of a border declaration on Cambodia in two or three weeks, following consultation with our allies. He has also recommended that you approve the draft letter (Tab B)3 thanking Sihanouk for the release of four American airmen and acknowledging his letter of February 25.

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Rogers’ recommendations are consistent with the course of action you approved in early February looking toward a resumption of diplomatic relations with Cambodia. After issuing the border declaration, Rogers plans to send a diplomatic officer to Phnom Penh to explore reopening our embassy there. These actions assume a continued favorable attitude toward resumption of relations on the part of Sihanouk. In his messages to you, in conversations with diplomats in Phnom Penh, and in public statements, Sihanouk has consistently encouraged a resumption of relations.

I agree with Secretary Rogers’ recommendations, but would urge that we push for somewhat faster action on the border declaration if the consultations with our allies go well.



That you approve the issuance of a border declaration, with instructions to Secretary Rogers that we should aim for delivery in about 10 days.4

Alternatively, I prefer to stick to three-week time table

That you approve the draft letter at Tab B.
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 505, Country Files, Far East, Cambodia, Vol. 1, 8–69. Secret; Exdis. Sent for action.
  2. Tab I, attached but not printed, is a memorandum from Rogers to Nixon, March 26, entitled “U.S. Relations with Cambodia,” in which Rogers recommended that Nixon “approve the issuance of a declaration recognizing the territorial integrity of Cambodia within its present frontiers, as a further step toward resumption of diplomatic relations on satisfactory terms.”
  3. The draft letter to Sihanouk and Sihanouk’s February 25 letter to Nixon were attached to Rogers’ March 26 memorandum. According to an April 2 memorandum from Moose to Walsh, the President approved the border declaration and transmission of the letter to Sihanouk through the Australians. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 505, Country Files, Far East, Cambodia, Vol. 1, 8–69) The border declaration was delivered to Sihanouk by the Australian Ambassador on April 16. It read: “In conformity with the United Nations Charter, the U.S.A. recognizes and respects the sovereignty, independence, neutrality, and territorial integrity of the Kingdom of Cambodia within its present frontiers.” (Telegram 55018 to Bonn and 10 other posts, April 10; ibid., RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 1 CAMB–US) Sihanouk called a press conference on April 18 to thank Nixon for the “gesture of equity and justice” and expressed the conviction that “inevitable border incidents” would not cause another rupture in U.S.-Cambodian relations. (Memorandum from Kissinger to Nixon, April 18; ibid., Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 5, President’s Daily Briefs)
  4. Nixon initialed the approve option.