15. Telegram From the Embassy in Thailand to the Department of State 1
Bangkok, July 10, 1969, 1049Z.
9229. Ref: State 113614.2
- Reftel arrived just as I was departing with Secretary to the Cabinet John Whitaker to call on Foreign Minister Thanat. During our review [Page 29]with Thanat of President’s forthcoming visit to Thailand, I found an occasion to refer to Bangkok Post publicity regarding Fulbright charges. I reviewed the subject with Thanat on the basis of paras 1 and 2 reftel. Thanat seemed perplexed concerning the charge that there is a top secret agreement which commits the U.S. beyond the SEATO Treaty. When I mentioned Project Taksin, he seemed nonplused but his secretary, Birabhongse, confirmed to him that Taksin is a military contingency plan. Thanat expressed the opinion that all military contingency planning is within the SEATO context, but Birabhongse informed him that Taksin is purely bilateral. In any case, Thanat fully understands that military contingency plans do not affect commitments and are only operational details to be used if, as and when it is agreed to do so.
- I read to Thanat the suggested statement in para 3 reftel and he commented “that seems very good.” As for himself, he said that if he is questioned publicly, he will simply say that he has no knowledge of any additional Thai-U.S. defense agreement beyond SEATO. Based on our own judgment, as well as this interview with Thanat, we concur with the suggested statement.
- We will forward additional comments re reply to Senator Fulbright. We believe the question of historical context is very important particularly since we will be talking in those terms to Pincus and Paul who will undoubtedly report to the Senator. We reiterate our desire to see proposed reply before it goes forward.
- On incidental interest, Thanat remarked that Fulbright’s charges appear to be similar to some of the things written in The Washington Post and he speculated on the possibility of some kind of “cabal” between Fulbright and The Washington Post. This quite inevitably led him into a pithy review of his feelings about Stanley Karnow,3 who he hopes will not seek to visit Thailand during the President’s visit (being reported septel).