169. Telegram From the Consulate in Australia to the Department of State 1

Secto 93. 1. June 28 Secretary Rogers met with Thai SEATO Council Member Pote Sarasin to review several points in US-Thai relations as well as bearing on developments in Southeast Asia of summit talks and subsequent US contacts with USSR and PRC.

2. Secretary Rogers thanked the RTG for their prompt and generous assistance in accommodating US forces required for the increased air activities in North and South Vietnam. Pote said Thailand regarded this as fulfilling its obligations under SEATO. He noted that in so doing Thailand encouraged considerable criticism from neutral countries and made it more vulnerable to communist hostility, as was evident from increase in insurgency.

3. Because of this increase the RTG had asked Vice President Agnew for additional assistance, a reply to which Pote said had been received promptly and in the affirmative. With the growing threat, the Thais were concerned about their arms and equipment being inferior to the enemy and he asked about continuing US assistance; he expressed particular concern about the Wolff amendment on narcotics which would cut off all aid. Secretary said he could understand the Thai concern on these matters but explained that these were manifestations of US politics particularly in an election year and he said he expected that we would be able to help with what was essential.

4. Pote then referred to the summit meetings and subsequent contacts in Peking and Hanoi and said that Marshal Thanom, NEC Chairman, [Page 369]had instructed him to ask the Secretary on a very confidential basis what bearing those conversations had had on the situation in Southeast Asia including an end to the Vietnam war. Secretary Rogers explained to Pote that in spite of the lengthy conversations there was not very much of a specific nature that could be cited although we do believe as a result of the talks that both the Russians and Chinese doubt the wisdom of an extended continuation of the war in Vietnam. After some further discussion on this point the Secretary made clear that we have left neither Moscow nor Peking in any doubt about our taking very seriously our continuing commitment to our allies and SEATO, which of course means above all our commitment to Thailand. We have felt that neither the Soviets nor the Chinese challenge this.

5. Pote volunteered that the Thais have been urging their neighbors to accept the expanding role of the Japanese in Southeast Asia even while carefully looking out for their own interests; he felt this was important in order not to drive Japan back into a militaristic frame of mind. He also volunteered that the Thai leaders will be forming a new, constitutional government quite soon, attributing the delay to some lack of decision on the part of Chairman Thanom and their desire to have thoroughly worked out beforehand the framework for future administration. Secretary Rogers said we well understood the Thai situation. He also referred to narcotics control, thanking the RTG for its close cooperation and urging them to do anything more that they can. Finally, he acknowledged the crucial role of the Thai volunteers in the defense of Laos over the recent dry season.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Conference Files 1971–1972: Lot 73 D 323, Secretary’s Trip to SEA. Secret; Limdis. Drafted by Unger on June 29, cleared by Lissy (S), and Pedersen (C), and approved by Rogers. Repeated to Bangkok.