122. Telegram From the Consulate in Hong Kong to the Department of State 1
Hong Kong, May 29, 1971, 1630Z.
3515. Subject: Report of Under Secretary’s Talk with Prime Minister: Thai SGU Units.
- Following is cleared record of Under Secretary’s conversation May 27 in Bangkok with Thai Prime Minister Thanom Kittikachorn on Thai SGU units in Laos.
- After general discussion of security situation in Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, and Thailand, Under Secretary raised question of Congressional restrictions on use of funds. Because of these restrictions funds have been provided through [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] to support Thai SGU units in Laos. The Under Secretary asked for Thai views on the issue, noting that Senators Case and Fulbright have raised the SGU publicly, and that it may be necessary for Assistant Secretary Green to testify before Congress. In such event, and although in executive session, the Assistant Secretary would have to testify truthfully and candidly. Under Secretary Irwin expressed gratitude for what the Thai have done, and regret for the publicity.
- Foreign Minister Thanat commented with irony that everything had come out already, and attributed this to fact that two former Foreign Service officers, Lowenstein and Moose, had unearthed the information for the Senate. (After the meeting, Assistant Secretary Green and Deputy Assistant Secretary Sullivan pointed out to Thanat’s private secretary, Birabhongse Kasemsri, our inability to control the actions or statements of Lowenstein and Moose in their present status.) The Under Secretary again stated the regret of President Nixon and Secretary Rogers for the publicity. Thanat again remarked that, as virtually all has been revealed already, Assistant Secretary Green’s testimony shouldn’t have a great deal more impact. Under Secretary Irwin explained that anti-war elements in the U.S. will try to prove that funds have been used illegally, and Assistant Secretary Green explained how his testimony may well have to go beyond what has already appeared in the press and cover in specific detail some of the arrangements which are not now public knowledge.
- Ambassador Unger called attention to the manner in which the RTG has heretofore explained the presence of Thais in Laos, i.e., that there are individual Thai fighting in Laos as volunteers with the RLG forces but no regular Thai forces are there. He suggested that this provided a satisfactory general basis for our answers to queries. Thanat responded that he has used this formula, and that no regular Thai troops are in Laos. He emphasized that such RTA cadre as are with the SGU units have officially signed resignations from the Thai army, and that all persons now in Laos are “volunteers” [less than 1 line of source text not declassified].
- Assistant Secretary Green pointed out that there are two sides to the issue—a legal side and a political side. Leaving aside the legal aspect, it is important to argue the question on the basis of why the SGU units are used, in terms of the protection of US forces in Vietnam and the fact that the countries of the area are helping one another in accordance with the Nixon Doctrine. Green said that this should also carry a signal to the other side, and asked the Foreign Minister if such [Page 258]a signal acted as a deterrent to NVN. Thanat did not reply directly, but remarked that both the Chinese and the North Vietnamese had accused the Thai of enlarging the war. These accusations have been made not only in propaganda attacks but from private sources speaking on behalf of the Chinese and North Vietnamese.
- This meeting also provided an opportunity to call attention to General Sanga’s remarks (Deptel 93462)2 and counsel against any comments which might suggest that regular Thai military are in Laos.