26. Letter from President Nixon to Cambodian Prime Minister Lon Nol1

Dear Mr. Prime Minister:

It was with the greatest pleasure that I read your letter of July 21,2 with its assessment of the dynamic forces your country can bring to bear against the Communist aggression to which it has been subjected. The strong and effective defense already presented by the Cambodian armed forces against this aggression and in support of Cambodia’s independence, neutrality, and territorial integrity, has inspired my own admiration and that of the American people. The fact that United States assistance has played some part in this defense is a source of deep personal satisfaction to me.

You have my assurances that the United States intends to continue to provide support for your country in its brave and determined struggle. On the military side, we will maintain our air interdiction activities. These, I am sure, will also continue to be of value to your own armed forces. We are now looking into means by which we may help to meet the other needs you have outlined, including your request for helicopters.3 In addition to the military assistance delivered during our fiscal year ending June 30, 1970, I have authorized an initial level of $40 million for such assistance during the current fiscal year. Our representatives in Phnom Penh will work closely with you in determining the priority needs to be met.

In the economic field, we are considering what economic assistance the United States may be able to offer, either acting individually or in concert with other friendly countries and international organizations, to relieve the strain of war on the Cambodian economy. I look [Page 51] forward to further discussions between our governments and with the International Monetary Fund on these requirements.

I can assure you, too, that we shall make available to you our experience in organization of the countryside and local security arrangements through visits by our experts who will hold discussions with yours, through training of Cambodians in other countries, and through encouraging third countries to provide experts in these fields.

As an indication of my continuing deep interest in Cambodia’s concerns, I have asked Vice President Agnew to visit Phnom Penh on August 28 for conversations with you and your associates. I hope that you will take the opportunity presented by the Vice President’s visit to speak with him fully and frankly on the problems which you are facing and on the assistance which you believe the United States may be able to render.4

Let me again convey to your Excellency my country’s friendship and sympathy for the people of Cambodia in their struggle. I am confident that the Cambodian sense of nationalism and liberty which you so eloquently described will prevail.5

Sincerely yours,

Richard Nixon
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 749, Presidential Correspondence, 1969–1974, Cambodia, Prime Minister, Lon Nol, 1970. No classification marking. Kissinger forwarded the letter to the President under an August 19 covering memorandum. The text of the letter was sent in telegram 133014 to Phnom Penh, August 15. (Ibid., RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 15–1 US/NIXON)
  2. See Document 6.
  3. In memorandum CM–178–70, August 25, Moorer informed Laird that he had worked out a plan with McCain and Abrams, which provided for helicopters to be operated and maintained by the VNAF but located in Phnom Penh where they would bear Cambodian Air Force markings and be used in support of the FANK until Cambodian pilots could be trained to fly them. Moorer added that the Department of Defense Office of General Counsel had approved the plan. (Washington National Records Center, OSD Files: FRC 330–76–76, Box 7, Cambodia 452)
  4. Agnew met with Lon Nol on August 28. A report of the meeting is in CINCPAC message 301920Z, August 31, which indicates that the two discussed a plan for $1.5 million in either MAP or AID funds, and Lon Nol expressed his gratitude. (Ibid., VP’s SEA Trip 8/70 Pt. 2)
  5. Lon Nol responded in an August 27 letter and declared the United States was “playing with distinction, its important, traditional international role as the defender of small States that are unjustly treated.” Eliot forwarded a translation to Kissinger, September 26. (Ibid., Box 749, Presidential Correspondence, 1969–1974, Cambodia, Prime Minister, Lon Nol (1970)