6. Memorandum From Secretary of State Rogers to President Nixon 1

SUBJECT

  • Congratulatory Message to Thai Prime Minister

Recommendation

For reasons set forth below, I recommend that you approve the attached message of congratulation to Marshal Thanom on his reappointment as Prime Minister.2 This message includes a general restatement of our security commitment to Thailand.

Discussion

On March 7 the King designated Field Marshal Thanom Kittikachorn as Prime Minister under the new Thai Constitution. A message from you congratulating him on his reappointment would be appropriate.

We believe it would be in our interest to use this message as an occasion for reaffirming the U.S. security commitment to Thailand.

We have reliable intelligence that the Thai leaders are currently in a mood of questioning and doubt with regard to the firmness of the U.S. intentions in Southeast Asia. This has been heightened by the Communist offensive in Viet-Nam (which the Thai view as a breach of the “understandings” which led to the total bombing halt) and the U.S. reaction to it. They are also apprehensive about the forthcoming Senate Foreign Relations Committee review of U.S. commitments. Many of these concerns have been reflected in recent public statements by the Thai Foreign Minister.

While initially reassured by your election, the Thai leaders are in some doubt about the policies of the new Administration. They have made it clear that they are hoping for a full discussion of where we expect to go in the war in Viet-Nam and the Paris peace talks during the SEATO and TCC meetings. But it will be risky to leave them in doubt regarding our basic intentions in the two and a half months until these meetings.

Early in the last two Administrations the President sent a message reaffirming in general terms the United States security commitment to [Page 13]Thailand, so there are precedents for such a message. Conversely, the absence of a message could be noted by Thai leaders and add to their concern in their present mood.

WPR
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 15–1 THAI. Secret. Drafted by Spear and cleared by Godley and William P. Bundy.
  2. Attached but not printed.