The Foreign Relations of the United States series presents the official documentary historical record of major foreign policy decisions and significant diplomatic activity of the United States Government. The Historian of the Department of State is charged with the responsibility for the preparation of the Foreign Relations series. The staff of the Office of the Historian, Bureau of Public Affairs, under the direction of the General Editor of the Foreign Relations series, plans, researches, compiles, and edits the volumes in the series. Secretary of State Frank B. Kellogg first promulgated official regulations codifying specific standards for the selection and editing of documents for the series on March 26, 1925. These regulations, with minor modifications, guided the series through 1991.

Public Law 102–138, the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, established a new statutory charter for the preparation of the series which was signed by President George H.W. Bush on October 28, 1991. Section 198 of P.L. 102–138 added a new Title IV to the Department of State’s Basic Authorities Act of 1956 (22 U.S.C. 4351, et seq.).

The statute requires that the Foreign Relations series be a thorough, accurate, and reliable record of major United States foreign policy decisions and significant United States diplomatic activity. The volumes of the series should include all records needed to provide comprehensive documentation of major foreign policy decisions and actions of the United States Government. The statute also confirms the editing principles established by Secretary Kellogg: The Foreign Relations series is guided by the principles of historical objectivity and accuracy; records should not be altered or deletions made without indicating in the published text that a deletion has been made; the published record should omit no facts that were of major importance in reaching a decision; and nothing should be omitted for the purposes of concealing a defect in policy. The statute also requires that the Foreign Relations series be published not more than 30 years after the events recorded.

Structure and Scope of the Foreign Relations Series

This volume is part of a subseries of volumes of the Foreign Relations series that document the most important issues in the foreign policy of the administrations of Richard M. Nixon and Gerald R. Ford. The subseries presents a documentary record of major foreign policy decisions and actions of both administrations. This specific volume documents the U.S. policy towards East and Southeast Asia, 1973–1976. Although this volume is meant to stand on its own, it is best read in conjunction with two other volumes: Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, Vol. XVIII, China, 1973–1976; Vol. X, Vietnam, January 1973–May 1975.

Focus of Research and Principles of Selection for Foreign Relations, 1973–1976, Volume E–12

This volume includes documentation on U.S. relations with Japan, North and South Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, ANZUS, Papua New Guinea, the Pacific Islands, the Philippines, SEATO, and ASEAN from 1973 through 1976. The chapter on Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos covers the period from May 1975 through 1976. A chapter on Thailand and Burma will be added once it has been fully cleared for publication.

U.S. policy toward East and Southeast Asia during these years sought to rebalance U.S. policy following the subordination of other concerns to the waging of the Vietnam War. The policies of the Nixon and Ford administrations were also affected by the evolving Sino-American relationship, the Nixon doctrine, and the challenge of pursuing economic growth within a fluctuating international monetary system. During 1975 and 1976, the United States spent a great deal of time reassuring its Asian allies of its commitment to remain engaged in the region, many of whom expressed alarm following the collapse of pro-American governments in South Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos.

In regard to Japan, U.S. and Japanese diplomats remained preoccupied with economic issues, particularly trade disputes, monetary instability, and concern over the international supply of oil, although newer issues, such as environmental policy and space cooperation, assumed a more prominent place within the bilateral relationship. In Korea, the United States sought to modernize the ROK military and regularize its presence on the peninsula, which still rested upon institutions from the era of the Korean War.

Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore posed a variety of challenges to American diplomacy. U.S. aid to Indonesia became a topic of debate within the U.S. government, due to budgetary pressures and congressional questions about the Indonesian occupation of East Timor. U.S. relations with Malaysia focused mainly upon expediting military and development aid to that country. Malaysia’s stability received attention in discussions between the United States and Singapore, especially following the collapse of South Vietnam. Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew met repeatedly with U.S. officials, mainly because they found him a good sounding board for American policies toward East Asia.

Disagreements with Australia and New Zealand put strains upon the ANZUS alliance. Australian criticism of U.S. bases and the election of Jim Cairn as Australia’s Deputy Prime Minister produced concern within the U.S. foreign policy establishment. Meanwhile, the governments of the United States and New Zealand clashed over the latter’s desire for a South Pacific nuclear free zone.

U.S.-Philippine relations became increasingly difficult. At the beginning of 1973, U.S. policy-makers were watchful of the challenges posed by the Philippine insurgency, the growing authoritarianism of President Ferdinand Marcos, the capricious behavior of Imelda Marcos, and border disputes involving the Philippines and its neighbors.

Events in Indochina greatly affected U.S. relations with the rest of East Asia. This volume chronicles U.S. interactions with Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam, from the evacuation of Saigon and Phnom Penh until the end of 1976. Meanwhile, the United States’ declining presence in Indochina contributed to a modification of its defense posture and alliances with Asian countries. Among the most important of the changes during this period were the dissolution of SEATO and the establishment of ASEAN.

Editorial Methodology

The documents are presented chronologically according to Washington time. Memoranda of conversation are placed according to the time and date of the conversation, rather than the date the memorandum was drafted.

Editorial treatment of the documents published in the Foreign Relations series follows Office style guidelines, supplemented by guidance from the General Editor and the chief technical editor. The original document is reproduced as exactly as possible, including marginalia or other notations, which are described in the footnotes. Texts are transcribed and printed according to accepted conventions for the publication of historical documents in the limitations of modern typography. A heading has been supplied by the editors for each document included in the volume. Spelling, capitalization, and punctuation are retained as found in the original text, except that obvious typographical errors are silently corrected. Other mistakes and omissions in the documents are corrected by bracketed insertions: a correction is set in italic type; an addition in roman type. Words or phrases underlined in the source text are printed in italics. Abbreviations and contractions are preserved as found in the original text, and a list of abbreviations is included in the front matter of each volume.

Bracketed insertions are also used to indicate omitted text that deals with an unrelated subject (in roman type) or that remains classified after declassification review (in italic type). The amount and, where possible, the nature of the material not declassified has been noted by indicating the number of lines of pages of text that were omitted. Entire documents withheld for declassification purposes have been accounted for and are listed by headings, source notes, and number of pages not declassified in their chronological place. All brackets that appear in the original document are so identified by footnotes. All ellipses are in the original documents.

The first footnote to each document indicates the source of the document, original classification, distribution, and drafting information. This note also provides the background of important documents and policies and indicates whether the President or his major policy advisers read the document.

Editorial notes and additional annotation summarize pertinent material not printed in the volume, indicate the location of additional documentary sources, provide references to important related documents printed in other volumes, describe key events, and provide summaries of and citations to public statements that supplement and elucidate the printed documents. Information derived from memoirs and other first hand accounts has been used when appropriate to supplement or explicate the official record.

The numbers in the index refer to document numbers rather than to page numbers.

Advisory Committee on Historical Diplomatic Documentation

The Advisory Committee on Historical Diplomatic Documentation, established under the Foreign Relations statute, reviews records, advises, and makes recommendations concerning the Foreign Relations series. The Advisory Committee monitors the overall compilation and editorial process of the series and advises on all aspects of the preparation and declassification of the series. The Advisory Committee does not necessarily review the contents of individual volumes in the series, but it makes recommendations on issues that come to its attention and reviews volumes, as it deems necessary to fulfill its advisory and statutory obligations.

Presidential Records and Materials Preservation Act Review

Under the terms of the Presidential Records and Materials Preservation Act (PMRPA) of 1974 (44 U.S.C. 2111 note), the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) has custody of the Nixon Presidential historical materials. The PRMPA and implementing public access regulations require NARA to review for additional restrictions in order to ensure the protection of the privacy rights of former Nixon White House officials, since these officials were not given the opportunity to separate their personal materials from public papers. Thus, the PRMPA and implementing public access regulations require NARA formally to notify the Nixon Estate and former Nixon White House staff members that the agency is scheduling for public release Nixon White House historical materials. The Nixon Estate and former White House staff members have 30 days to contest the release of Nixon historical materials in which they were a participant or are mentioned. Further, the MRMPA and implementing regulations require NARA to segregate and return to the creator of files private and personal materials. All Foreign Relations volumes that include materials from NARA’s Nixon Presidential Materials Project are processed and released in accordance with the PRMPA.

Nixon White House Tapes

Access to the Nixon White House tape recordings is governed by the terms of the PRMPA and an access agreement with the Office of Presidential Libraries of the National Archives and Records Administration and the Nixon Estate. In February 1971, President Nixon initiated a voice activated taping system in the Oval Office of the White House and, subsequently, in the President’s Office in the Executive Office Building, Camp David, the Cabinet Room, and White House and Camp David telephones. The audiotapes include conversations of President Nixon with his Assistant for National Security Affairs, Henry Kissinger, other White House aides, Secretary of State Rogers, other Cabinet officers, members of Congress, and key foreign officials. The clarity of the voices on the tape recordings is often very poor, but the editor has made every effort to verify the accuracy of the transcripts produced here. Readers are advised that the tape recording is the official document; the transcript represents an interpretation of that document. Through the use of digital audio and other advances in technology, the Office of the Historian has been able to enhance the tape recordings and over time produce more accurate transcripts. The result is that some transcripts printed here may differ from transcripts of the same conversations printed in previous Foreign Relations volumes. The most accurate transcripts possible, however, cannot substitute for listening to the recordings. Readers are urged to consult the recordings themselves for a full appreciation of those aspects of the conversations that cannot be captured in a transcript, such as the speakers’ inflections and emphases that may convey nuances of meaning, as well as the larger context of the discussion.

Declassification Review

The Office of Information Programs and Services, Bureau of Administration, conducted the declassification review for the Department of State of the documents published in this volume. The review was conducted in accordance with the standards set forth in Executive Order 12958, as amended, on Classified National Security Information and applicable laws.

The principle guiding declassification review is to release all information, subject only to the current requirements of national security as embodied in law and regulation. Declassification decisions entailed concurrence of the appropriate geographic and functional bureaus in the Department of State, other concerned agencies of the U.S. Government, and the appropriate foreign governments regarding specific documents of those governments. The declassification review of this volume, which began in 2007 and was completed in 2010, resulted in the decision to withhold 4 documents in full, excise a paragraph or more in 11 documents, and make minor excisions of less than a paragraph in 23 documents.

The Office of the Historian is confident, on the basis of the research conducted in preparing this volume, and as a result of the declassification review process described above, that the documentation and editorial notes presented here provide an accurate and comprehensive account of the Nixon and Ford administrations’ policy toward East and Southeast Asia from 1973 until 1976.


The editors wish to acknowledge the assistance of officials at the Nixon Presidential Materials Project of the National Archives and Records Administration (Archives II), at College Park, Maryland. The editors wish to express gratitude to the Richard Nixon Estate for allowing access to the Nixon Presidential recordings and the Richard Nixon Library & Birthplace for facilitating that access. Thanks are due to the Historical Staff of the Central Intelligence Agency, who were helpful in arranging full access to the files of the Central Intelligence Agency. John Haynes of the Library of Congress was responsible for expediting access to the Kissinger Papers. The editors were able to use the Kissinger Papers, including the transcripts of telephone conversations, with the kind permission of Henry Kissinger. The editors would like to also thank Sandy Meagher for her valuable assistance in expediting the use of files of the Department of Defense.

Bradley Coleman, David Goldman, and David Nickles collected documentation for the volume. David Nickles selected documentation and edited the volume under the supervision of Edward C. Keefer, former General Editor of the Foreign Relations series. Dean Weatherhead coordinated the declassification review, under the supervision of Susan C. Weetman, Chief of the Declassification and Publishing Division. Chris Tudda and Mandy A. Chalou scanned the documents. Joseph Wicentowski devised the internet format. Mandy A. Chalou did the technical editing and prepared the documents for electronic publication.

Ambassador Edward Brynn
Acting Historian

Bureau of Public Affairs
March 3, 2011