110. Telegram From the Embassy in Thailand to the Department of State 1
Bangkok, March 11, 1971, 0957Z.
- Late yesterday afternoon Amb. Kennedy was received in audience by Their Majesties the King and Queen; also present were Mrs. Kennedy, Mrs. Whittle, Mrs. Unger and myself. Amb. Kennedy at the outset explained President Nixon had asked him to convey his greetings to His Majesty, reaffirm his high regard for Thailand and close interest in developments here, his determination to continue working closely with countries in this region to assure their security, and to solicit any message which His Majesty would like to convey to the President through Amb. Kennedy.
- The President’s letter of invitation to Their Majesties was then presented.4 His Majesty was obviously pleased but expressed his doubt about leaving his country this year in view of the many pressing problems and unsettled situation here. Amb. Kennedy made it clear that the President hoped that if this year were not possible, next year might be. (I arranged with His Majesty’s aide to get the King’s more considered reply for transmittal to the President as soon as it is ready.)
- The remainder of the discussion between His Majesty and Amb. Kennedy was taken up in a lengthy and intense discussion by the King of several critical issues now facing Thailand. First on the list and obviously of profound concern to His Majesty was Thailand’s severe internal and external economic problems deriving from the depressed price of rice and the important contribution to this problem made by U.S. PL–480 sales, above all to Indonesia. His Majesty’s review of the problem was along familiar lines but I think we must not underestimate the strength of his feelings on this matter and his conviction that the rice problem will have not only mounting economic consequences but serious political repercussions as well, potentially very damaging to U.S.-Thai relations. Without going into detail His Majesty also alluded to the problem of disposal of rubber surpluses.
- The other major topic was a review by His Majesty of the growing insurgency problem. Here his principal emphasis was laid in the first place on the need for equipment (above all helicopters) for the border patrol police who should receive support largely according to the same criteria as the military forces since their role is largely a military one. He also made clear his dissatisfaction with inept administration and even oppression by public officials as a contributory factor to the growth of the insurgency.
- At the close of the audience His Majesty expressed appreciation for the President’s having sent Amb. Kennedy and the opportunity it provided for him to convey his messages in return.
- Amb. Kennedy has approved this message.
- [sic] foregoing message classified Exdis because ref A. Unless Dept. sees objection suggest it be reduced to simple confidential.