141. Telegram From the Embassy in Thailand to the Department of State 1
Bangkok, November 16, 1971, 1207Z.
Johto 2/15421. From Ambassador. Subj: Under Secretary Johnson’s Audience with His Majesty the King.
- This morning Undersecretary Johnson, accompanied by myself and John Getz, was received in audience by His Majesty the King. The discussion ranged widely over various aspects of the current situation in Thailand, particularly in the field of economic development, noting forward progress particularly in the northeast since the period when the Under Secretary was Ambassador here.
- Under Secretary Johnson then expressed concern about the worldwide narcotics problem and noted with satisfaction the progress that was being made toward the development of a Thai/U.S. program in this field. He referred specifically to my appointment with General Prasert earlier this morning. The Under Secretary then mentioned the problem of finding an economic alternative to opium production for the hill tribes in northern Thailand and said that he understood His Majesty was sponsoring some useful work in this field.
- The King responded readily and talked at length about the experimentation going on with a number of crops (for example, peaches, soy beans, vegetables, and coffee). He explained the need for proceeding carefully, “unofficially,” and sometimes at greater cost to be sure that the hill tribesmen would be won over and would become willing participants. He discussed the importance of being sure there was a market (His Majesty advocated cooperatively organized rather than commercial canning industries) and the need for transport to market. Not unexpectedly, this led His Majesty to emphasize the heavy requirement for aircraft, particularly helicopters and stol planes.
- Discussion was very friendly and constructive throughout, and His Majesty made none of the critical and pessimistic comments about the RTG or the situation in Thailand which had so strongly marked some earlier conversations with American visitors.2
- Under Secretary has seen and approved this message.
- Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, ORG 7 U. Secret; Limdis.↩
- One such conversation was Secretary Connally’s with the King on November 3 at Chitralada Palace in Bangkok, as reported in telegram Conto 30/9579 from Djakarta, November 5, in which Unger reported that the King “found the government’s efforts inadequate and its performance in some cases deficient.” (Ibid., Conference Files 1966–72: Lot 70 D 387, Box 526)↩