49. Memorandum of Conversation1
- RTG Views on Laos
- Thanat Khoman, Foreign Minister of Thailand
- Ambassador Sunthorn, Thai Embassy, Washington
- Ambassador Anand, Thai Permanent Representative to the United Nations
- The Secretary
- John B. Dexter, Country Director for Thailand and Burma
The Secretary asked how the Thai view things in Laos. Thanat responded that they were worried and that just before he left Bangkok there had been several Security Council meetings on the subject. He said they are not sure of Communist intentions. Possibly the Communists merely intend to secure the Ho Chi Minh Trail, but there are other indications that they may also have designs on Thailand. He cited the Chinese road. (He noted as a “nuance” that in the construction, after a certain village had been reached—he could not recall the name—the Chinese no longer used Chinese personnel but only Pathet Lao or North Vietnamese.) He said the Thai fear that the road is being constructed to serve potentially as another “Ho Chi Minh Trail” if the Chinese choose to move against Thailand in the future.
The Secretary remarked that since his last conversation with Thanat the war in Vietnam had been going worse for the North Vietnamese and that both infiltration and the intensity of combat were considerably reduced. Thanat observed that this was offset by increased Communist efforts in Laos. He added that there was also increased guerilla infiltration into Thailand. He said his Prime Minister was much concerned and had asked him specifically to express his concern to the Secretary.
Thanat said the Thai would be willing to help the effort in Laos by operating helicopter gunships and added that the RLG would also like them to do this. He said the Thai had trained personnel to operate them but would need help. He indicated vaguely that they might require additional helicopters (though he may have been referring to equipment needed to convert existing helicopters to gunships).