163. Telegram From the Embassy in Thailand to the Department of State1

4131. Subject: Prime Minister Kriangsak Invites President Carter to Visit Thailand.

1. The Embassy has received from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs a copy of a letter dated 31 January from Prime Minister Kriangsak to President Carter which the Ministry say has been forwarded to the White House via Thai Embassy Washington. The letter responds to the President’s letter of 27 December2 and invites President and Mrs. Carter to visit Thailand. Text is as follows:

2. Begin text: Dear Mr. President: Please accept my sincere thanks for your letter of 27 December 1977, in which you were good enough to speak highly of my government’s policy.

3. I could not agree more with your observation that the conclusion of the hostilities of the Indochina conflict has ushered in a new era for Southeast Asia. Although there seem to be bright prospects for friendly relations and cooperation for this region, I realize only too well that the tasks that lie ahead for Thailand and indeed, other countries in the area are most difficult and challenging. Knowing as I do your deep [Page 575] interest in foreign affairs, I am certain that you must by now be thoroughly acquainted with recent developments in Southeast Asia.

4. As my government desires nothing but peace and stability, I have set myself to work toward that direction from the very beginning since the assumption of my office as Prime Minister. And it is gratifying to note that my initiatives to seek normalization of relations with the Indochinese states, as called for by the joint communique of the ASEAN heads of government after their meeting in Kuala Lumpur in August of last year,3 have begun to indicate encouraging results. Although each country must regard, as we in Thailand do, the maintenance of peace and stability, which are prerequisites to the preservation of independence and sovereignty as primarily its own responsibility, I hope you will share my view that these conditions can hardly be attained without wholehearted support and cooperation from all major powers.

5. In view of last year’s drought and floods which have caused serious damages to our agricultural production, my government is at the same time trying its best to alleviate the plight of the people, particularly the rural poor. More importantly, the provision of a more equitable distribution of income ranks high in the list of my government’s priorities. Hopefully, this measure will help remove the seeds of dissatisfaction among the people in sensitive areas.

6. Insofar as human rights in Thailand are concerned Miss Patricia Derian who recently visited Thailand4 to obtain first-hand information on matters relating to this question must have already submitted a report to you. I only wish to add that in considering this question, perhaps other factors such as different cultures and the stages of socio-political development of individual countries should also be taken into account.

7. Being a developing country, the large and continuing influx of Indochinese refugees into Thailand is a great strain on our economy with its consequent adverse effect upon our efforts at national development. As next-door neighbour and out of humanitarian reasons, we have to shoulder much of the responsibility. While we are grateful for United States generous support in this respect, we feel that the overall assistance given to us thus far by various sources is still too short to meet our needs and we would welcome more cooperation and economic assistance from friendly sources, including your great country. My [Page 576] government considers that this is an international problem that needs international solutions. I have stated this on many occasions, and I only wish to reiterate to you to urge other countries too, especially the developed ones, to follow your example.

8. We in Thailand still regard the United States as our erstwhile friend and ally, and will do everything we can to cooperate with you for our common interest and concern. I wish to reassure you that it is the firm intention of the Government of Thailand to maintain this special relationship with the United States. I believe Representative Lester Wolff who has been in Thailand many times is among the best to testify to you on our sincerity.

9. In this connection, I am convinced that a visit by the President of the United States to Thailand would not only enable you to feel for yourself the strong bonds of friendship we in Thailand have always had for the Government and people of the United States, but also serve to cement our already close relationship which we have mutually been enjoying over the years. Indeed, I believe that you would find the visit helpful in getting a better understanding of the overall situation in Thailand, and at the same time contribute to our mutural cooperation, both on the bilateral level and within the framework of ASEAN.

10. Therefore on behalf of the Government and people of Thailand and on my own behalf, it is my great pleasure to extend to you and Mrs. Carter a most cordial invitation to visit Thailand at your convenience. I look forward to receiving you and the First Lady in Bangkok in the not too distant future. Meanwhile, I extend to you my best wishes for your continued good health, happiness, and success. End text.

11. Note: Exdis caption is being used so that Dept. will be in control of distribution of text.

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Brzezinski Office File, Country Chron File, Box 50, Thailand: 1977–1978. Confidential; Exdis.
  2. See Document 162.
  3. The ASEAN Summit took place August 4–5, 1977. See David A. Andelman, “5 Southeast Asian Nations Agree on Economic Cooperation in Area,” New York Times, August 6, 1977, p. 4.
  4. Derian traveled to Southeast Asia in January. She visited Thailand January 16–19. See footnotes 8 and 9, Document 125.