28. Telegram From Secretary of State Rogers to the Department of State 1
New York, September 24, 1969, 2030Z.
Secto 44/3193. Subj: Secretary’s Bilateral with Thai ForMin, Sept 23.
- Following summary based on uncleared memcon, noforn and FYI only subject to revision upon review:
- Secretary began substantive conversation by asking if ForMin Thanat would agree to a slight alteration in troop reduction scheduled. He said we would like to complete draw down by July 1 to meet our fiscal year.2 ForMin agreed to July 1 date, saying RTG would leave scheduling to us. Secretary said he understood troop reduction announcement wording was agreed3 and we would like simultaneous [Page 63]announcement in Washington and Bangkok, leaving handling Bangkok release to RTG. Thanat said his govt would follow US lead. Secretary responded that he would discuss exact timing with President and be in touch with ForMin.
- Secretary asked Thai appraisal prospects success Thanat’s ICJ candidacy and asked what we could do. After saying opposition spreading rumors US would prefer his withdrawal in order retain services as ForMin, Thanat said Colombian vote crucial. Amb Yost noted we had spoken to Colombians and received reply they committed to Indian candidate. Thanat raised possibility Colombia could vote for both Indian and himself. Amb Yost said we would check it out. It was agreed that work in SC was the most important, Amb Yost informed Thai that Finns presently studying issue. Secretary volunteered to discuss Thanat’s candidacy with Colombian ForMin at LA dinner this evening and recommend vote for Thanat and Indian. Amb Anand said Thanat now had 7 votes for SC but 8 needed and 9 better.
- Secretary turned to present attack on US administration in Washington on Laos. Thanat asked what we proposed to do. Secretary said we have time to prepare and he would have better fix following his return from Washington later this week. Thanat said in his view all part of same problem. It first focused on Thailand, now shifted to Laos, including charge US backing Lao units and 5,000 Thai troops in Laos, this last charge ridiculous. He regretted lack press coverage Lao reps GA address including fact 40,000 North Vietnamese troops now in Laos. Thanat said he was going to Washington Oct 3 to address Institute Foreign Affairs and, if Secretary agreeable, would hit North Vietnamese troop figures and fact no regular Thai army troops now in Laos. Secretary agreed that this approach would be helpful and expressed wish to see Thanat in Washington.
- Thanat asked about results Gromyko dinner previous evening. In particular, anything new on Vietnam. Secretary replied he had not raised matter since we had previously made clear our willingness accept Russian initiatives to aid in settling Vietnam conflict. He said we do not want to appear overeager or panicky, which we are not. As result, neither Vietnam or China discussed. Secretary offered his opinion that Russians not settled on many aspects of foreign policy and these matters pretty much up in air. Only positive aspect was tone of meeting. Sov proposals on European security conference cloudy, only wished large conference to ease tension. ForMin and Secretary agreed that there was equally little substance in Asian security proposal. ForMin mentioned Sov overtures re Aeroflot service and Secretary observed that they appear willing only supply good will but no help.
- ForMin said he supported US gestures to gain settlement but wished reaffirm need for US to maintain strong position. If such position [Page 64]held, he felt confident something would develop. Secretary reiterated that it was firm intention President maintain firm position on Southeast Asia.
- ForMin asked if it would be possible for him to have more advanced consultation on US troop replacement. Secretary replied we will of course consult and asked if he were referring to B–52 36-hour pause or cessation B–52 action. He assured Thanat that we had no intention cease B–52 activities. Secretary then outlined our hope for evenly paced troop withdrawal, discussed problem of leaks which reduce President’s flexibility, and undertook to give Thai more advanced notice. He said we expect to consider this problem again in mid-Nov.
- Secretary asked if RTG considering troop reduction in Vietnam. ForMin replied not without full consultation with Vietnam allies and not unless reduction would not affect SVN war effort. In response to Secretary’s suggestion that Thai need troops for internal use, Thanat replied that RTG might possibly require them in northeast.
- ForMin then asked about effect of Cooper amendment. Secretary replied it intended prevent use of US ground forces in undeclared war and would not affect US commitments under SEATO. In response to ForMin’s question re Chinese invasion, Secretary said that if Chinese attacked, SEATO obligation would become operative. Secretary went on to say concern was mainly over possible use US ground forces in Laos. He said this was a one-year amendment on an appropriation bill and he would get exact wording and discuss with Thanat in Washington. ForMin asked if it were not similar to Tonkin Gulf Resolution and Secretary replied negatively and repeated previous explanation. Secretary promised to get exact amendment wording and give a memo on subject to Thanat in Washington.
- Tone of meeting very cordial and Thanat appeared pleased with answers to points raised.
- Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL US. Secret; Priority. Repeated to Bangkok.↩
- In a September 19 memorandum to the President, Kissinger recommended approval of the withdrawal of the 6,000 troops by July 1, 1970, noting that, at his request, the Departments of State and Defense had compromised their divergent views. Laird had wanted the troops out by December 31, 1969, while State “as a result of a working level agreement with the Thais in Bangkok” had the withdrawal projected to September 1970. Kissinger noted that “State believes this revised schedule will be readily accepted by the Thais and Mel agrees providing you approve.” Nixon checked and initialed his approval on September 23. (Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box TS 64, Memoranda to the President, 1969–74, Feb. 1969–Feb. 1970. Another copy is in the National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 560, Country Files, Far East, Thailand, Vol. II)↩
- The text of the agreed joint announcement is in telegram 164797 to Bangkok, September 27. (Ibid.)↩