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

SUBJECT

  • Letter from Lon Nol

Our Embassy in Phnom Penh has cabled an informal translation of a letter to you from Lon Nol (Tab A).2

Lon Nol summarizes what is being done to meet the Vietnamese Communist attack, cites the factors which he believes will lead to Cambodian victory, and expresses appreciation for American support (he specifically singles out air support).

Lon Nol goes on to ask for troop and weapons carriers, helicopters and bridging materials to endow the FANK with greater mobility. He also asks “your intervention so that experts (camouflaged) may help us to profit from your experience, from your practices and also from your means as rapidly as possible.” This rather veiled request apparently is a proposal that we provide clandestine training to the FANK, and that we outfit units which we train.

The letter, incidentally, cites “the Republican objective” as one of the factors for Cambodian unity, and the seal on the letter is of a new design, omitting the royal symbols.

As our Chargé remarks, the letter appears to have been drafted personally by Lon Nol, and the French original is obscure. I believe we should await the original and obtain an expert translation before considering a reply.3

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 749, Presidential Correspondence, 1969–1974, Cambodia, Prime Minister, Lon Nol (1970). Top Secret; Sensitive. Sent for information.
  2. Attached, but not printed, is a retyped, undated, translation of Lon Nol’s letter, July 21. The translated text was sent in telegram 1687 from Phnom Penh, July 23. (Ibid.)
  3. The President wrote the following at the bottom of the page: “Give it a very affirmative reply and soon (Don’t wait for official translation.).” According to a memorandum from Robinson to Moorer, August 14, “Dr. Kissinger opened this morning’s NSC Staff Meeting with a scathing condemnation of State’s draft reply to Lon Nol’s ‘sincere letter of 21 July.’ Dr. Kissinger stated that a three week delay is inexcusable, particularly when the President has been expecting a response daily.” (Moorer Diary, August 14, 1970; National Archives, RG 218, Records of the Chairman) Nixon’s reply to Lon Nol is Document 26.