175. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Thailand1

220836. For Ambassador. Subject: Presidential Reply to PM Kriangsak Letters. Ref: Bangkok 30029.2

1. (C)–Entire text.

2. During your anticipated August 23 meeting with PM Kriangsak, you are authorized to convey the following points from President Carter in response to the PM’s letters of June 13 and July 30.3

—The President is seriously interested in the security of Thailand and its defense requirements and is watching the present situation carefully.

—The stability of the ASEAN states—including the territorial integrity of Thailand—is the priority U.S. concern in Southeast Asia. This point has been made personally by the President to Chairman Brezhnev4 and has been reiterated to both the USSR and the SRV.

—The USG shares the PM’s attitudes toward Vietnam’s actions, particularly the dangers of its continued military presence in Kampuchea and the massive flows of refugees produced by its actions. The discussions and general agreement on strategy among ASEAN, the U.S. and other nations at the Bali and Geneva meetings5 and since have had tangible effect, including the positive results of the Geneva refugee meeting. However, more must be done, including a greater international focus on Hanoi’s policies and actions in Kampuchea and the more rapid movement of land refugees out of camps in Thailand. The President is accordingly appreciative of the initiative taken in the statement issued by the ASEAN Ministers of Foreign Affairs following [Page 619] their August 16 meeting in Kuala Lumpur.6 The statement was a very useful step, as was the ASEAN decision to inscribe the issue on the UN agenda. The U.S. along with Thailand (and ASEAN) thus looks toward the United Nations meetings this fall as an additional opportunity to focus world attention on the situation in Kampuchea as a threat to regional peace and security, and to put greater pressure on Vietnam to change its policies.

—As noted in the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ statement in Kuala Lumpur, the threat of famine in Kampuchea could bring about a greater flow of refugees toward Thailand than we have seen heretofore. The U.S. believes it is essential that international assistance be funneled to the Khmer people and is encouraged that some international organizations are working now to see this accomplished. Obviously this assistance should be monitored and should go to needy Khmer in all areas of the country. The President appreciates all that you have been doing in this regard and would count on your continued support to permit such assistance in border areas as well as in transiting Thailand.

—The President appreciates the PM’s hospitality during the visits of several congressional delegations to Thailand this summer and believes they helped to focus U.S. media and other attention on refugee problems in the wake of the Geneva meeting. As these delegations indicated, an essential element in the overall effort is for Thailand and the other ASEAN countries to implement the policies of humanitarian first asylum which have in the past won for the RTG and the Thai people international recognition and support. Thailand’s humanitarian approach, despite the difficulties, is in noteworthy contrast to the irresponsible and destructive attitudes adopted by Vietnam. The congressional zldelegations have returned impressed by what they saw and heard in Thailand and supportive of continued help.

—The President recalls his discussions with the PM last February and the agreement to take certain steps to increase and accelerate military assistance to Thailand.7 He has looked to Amb. Abramowitz to keep the PM up to date on the acceleration of our arms deliveries to Thailand and success in diverting to Thailand some deliveries scheduled for other countries and for U.S. units. Most of the equipment asked for in February8 and May will be delivered this fall, by sea and possibly also by air, provided the RTG and USG can complete quickly the necessary technical procedures and financial agreements. In that [Page 620] regard, the PM’s letter of July 30 is helpful as a further clarification of Thailand’s defense needs.

—With regard to the U.S. ammunition currently stored in Thailand, it is anticipated that the Congress will approve the transfer after it returns from its current recess.

—In closing, the President wishes to emphasize to the PM that our mutual efforts to resolve the current problems in Southeast Asia are in accord with the long history of mutual esteem and close cooperation between the U.S. and Thailand.

—The President and Mrs. Carter send their best wishes to the PM and Khunying Virat and very much enjoyed meeting them as well as their fine son and daughter last February.9

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D790383–1026. Confidential; Immediate; Exdis. Drafted by Terrell R. Otis (EA/TIMBS); cleared by Robert E. Fritz (EA/TIMBS), Oksenberg, Seitz (S/S), and Robert Steven (S/S–O); cleared in substance by Stanley McClure (DOD/ISA) and David T. Rogers (PM); approved by Oakley.
  2. Telegram 30029 from Bangkok, August 15, transmitted the text of Kriangsak’s July 30 letter. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D790375–0774)
  3. See Documents 173 and 174.
  4. See Foreign Relations, 1977–1980, vol. VI, Soviet Union, Document 204.
  5. The ASEAN Foreign Ministers met with the Australian, New Zealand, Japanese, Irish, and U.S. Foreign Ministers in Bali July 1–3 to discuss the Indochinese refugee situation. See footnote 6, Document 176. Regarding the July 20–21 Geneva conference, see Document 138.
  6. The statement was reported in telegram 14076 from Kuala Lumpur, August 17. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D790373–1230)
  7. See Document 171.
  8. See Document 172.
  9. Abramowitz reported on his August 23 meeting with Kriangsak in telegram 32261 from Bangkok, August 24. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D790386–0471)