128. Memorandum of Conversation1

PARTICIPANTS

  • Foreign Minister Thanat Khoman
  • Dr. Henry A. Kissinger, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
  • Mr. Leonard Unger, U.S. Ambassador to Thailand
  • Dr. K. Wayne Smith, Senior Staff Member NSC
  • Mr. John H. Holdridge, Senior Staff Member NSC
  • Mr. M. J. Wilkinson, Political Officer, American Embassy Bangkok

SUBJECT

  • Dr. Kissinger’s Discussions with Foreign Minister Thanat on Vietnam and Chinese Representation

Dr. Kissinger referred to the just-completed discussions with Prime Minister Thanom and other senior Thai leaders, and noted that many important matters had been covered. We would want to continue to discuss the questions of US defense support for Thailand and support for the Thai SGU’s.

Dr. Kissinger went on to say that with respect to US policy toward China and the Vietnam negotiations, we would try to keep the Thai fully informed so that they could have complete confidence in what direction we were going, and would not be confronted with any drastic surprises. We were not planning any such surprises. Foreign Minister Thanat wondered if speedy contacts with the Chinese might be [Page 279]included among the list of surprises, and Dr. Kissinger observed that he was talking more about developments connected with Vietnam. The Thai had no doubt been surprised on one or two occasions over our troop withdrawal decisions.

Foreign Minister Thanat asked Dr. Kissinger for his thoughts about the Paris talks. Dr. Kissinger replied that, speaking candidly, he did not expect much to happen over the next two months. We couldn’t be sure about the purpose of the PRG proposal and would have to see how to interpret it. It could have been designed either to exploit US public opinion and increase pressure on us, or to mark the beginning of real negotiations. There was a chance that the North Vietnamese had decided to engage in serious negotiations because pressures on them-selves and developments vis-à-vis the Soviets and the Chinese made them believe that this was a good time to settle. On the other hand, they could be waiting for next year’s US elections. We simply didn’t know. Their proposal contained slightly more forthcoming language. It was consistent with what they had said before, but also consistent with what they might say if they were opening up. We would get word to the Foreign Minister about our reaction.

Foreign Minister Thanat asked, would the South Vietnamese make a counterproposal? Dr. Kissinger replied that we and the South Vietnamese had not decided how to handle the question of our response. This would depend to some extent on the President’s judgment following his, Dr. Kissinger’s, return. He was going to Paris to meet Ambassador Bruce—he would not see Mme. Binh, though—and would review the situation with Bruce, but not do any negotiating. Perhaps we would make a counterproposal, but within the framework of the President’s October 7, 1970 position. We would not accept a cease-fire for us and none for our allies, and could not stop economic and military aid to these allies while the North Vietnamese received such assistance from the Chinese and the Soviets. On the question of our withdrawals and the timing, we were withdrawing anyway, but the December 31 date was unacceptable. We had not set a deadline because we wanted to relate this issue to the negotiations.

Foreign Minister Thanat called attention to the fact that all countries having troops in South Vietnam had said that they would withdraw, but the other side hadn’t said anything about reducing its forces. This was a strong point for our side. Ambassador Unger agreed that the other side was setting a double standard which could be exploited. Dr. Kissinger stated that we would review the situation. We had a problem with public opinion in that many people didn’t care what was fair—the radicals did not complain over the North’s invasion of the South, but would put up great cries of indignation if the South threatened to invade the North. Foreign Minister Thanat surmised that this was because people didn’t want the US to become involved.

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Dr. Kissinger cautioned Foreign Minister Thanat not to expect anything much in Paris. We would move very slowly, and spend the next two weeks pointing out the negative aspects of the PRG proposal. At the time he had left Washington, we had no idea that this proposal was forthcoming.

Foreign Minister Thanat asked about the US decision on the Chinese representation issue in the UN, and Dr. Kissinger expressed the view that it would be made before the end of the month. Our problem was how to say something constructive which would not infuriate both Chinas. We had discussed with the Thai and others various formulae, such as a two-thirds vote for expulsion and a simple majority for admission. Foreign Minister Thanat’s idea of voting on the expulsion issue first before that of admission was intriguing, and he, Dr. Kissinger, would explore this when he returned. There were of course a number of combinations, including sticking to our present policies.

Foreign Minister Thanat suggested that the two resolutions for requiring a two-thirds majority to expel Taiwan and admit the PRC by a simple majority might be put forward at the same time, or within a few hours of one another. These would be two separate resolutions, but expulsion would come first. He was not sure, though, what the rule was if somebody wanted to alter the order. Admittedly, it might be difficult to put one slightly ahead of the other. This matter could be left to the “arm twisters.”

Dr. Kissinger said that he was impressed by the Foreign Minister’s concern. Would it be possible to vote by paragraph (on the Albanian Resolution) in such a way that the expulsion issue would never arise? Foreign Minister Thanat thought that this could be done very easily. Ambassador Unger thought that this procedure would need to be agreed upon by a substantial majority. Foreign Minister Thanat said that even if the (Albanian) expulsion resolution came first, we could ask for a two-thirds vote, which could be approved by a simple majority.

Dr. Kissinger reiterated that the President would make his decision before August 1, and it would probably be some variation of these ideas. We would inform the Thai, and Mr. Newman would take this up with the Foreign Minister. Foreign Minister Thanat declared that the Thai would go along with the President’s decision.

Dr. Kissinger wondered what the Foreign Minister thought about sticking with the present formula? Foreign Minister Thanat said he did not believe this had any chance. Dr. Kissinger asked if it still might not be possible to get a majority for the Important Question? Foreign Minister Thanat said that he didn’t know the answer to this. Dr. Kissinger suggested that if we could get a majority for that, we could postpone the matter for another year even if there was a bigger majority for the [Page 281]Albanian Resolution. Foreign Minister Thanat observed that this would happen only if the people who wanted the PRC in the UN relented. Ambassador Unger interjected to say that if the people who wanted the PRC in felt that it would be satisfactory to the PRC, then they might relent. Dr. Kissinger added that if these people thought that the PRC wouldn’t come unless Taiwan were expelled, Taiwan would be expelled anyway and then we would have paid a price. This would be the worst possible case. Foreign Minister Thanat mentioned that the strength of those who were willing to have the PRC in the UN without pushing Taiwan out needed to be established.

Dr. Kissinger declared it was his instinct that the US would move to some position such as that which they had been discussing. There had been no final decision as yet as to making expulsion a two-thirds vote. When this decision was reached, we would make sure that the Thai were informed ahead of time. Foreign Minister Thanat remarked that those who wanted the PRC in were just about the same in number as those who wanted Taiwan in. Dr. Kissinger concluded by saying that was just about our own estimate.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 563, Country Files, Far East, Thailand, Vol. V. Top Secret; Sensitive. Drafted by Holdridge and approved by Kissinger on August 5. The meeting was held at Government House.