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THAILAND

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INTEREST OF THE UNITED STATES IN QUESTION OF RECOGNIZING A FREE THAI MOVEMENT; - ATTITUDES OF THE UNITED STATES AND THE UNITED KINGDOM TOWARD THE POSTWAR STATUS OF THAILAND

892.01/46

The Secretary of State to the Director of the Office of Strategic

Services (Donovan)

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WASHINGTON, February 9, 1944. MY DEAR GENERAL DONOVAN: During a conversation held on January 26 between officers of the Department and the Office of Strategic Services, there was discussion concerning the desire of Free Thai leaders in Thailand to come out of that country and to establish headquarters at some point in the United Nations. As indicated in the enclosed copy of a memorandum of the conversation, it was arranged that officers of the Department should explore further with the Thai Minister certain aspects of the matter.

In pursuance of that arrangement, on February 1 officers of the Department had a talk with the Thai Minister as recorded in a memorandum of conversation, copy of which is enclosed. It will be noted that in reply to questions the Thai Minister indicated that he understood that Pradist 4 would prefer to establish himself in India and that he and other Thai leaders would like to be given assurances before they come out of Thailand that facilities would be extended them to enable them to organize and function. It will also be noted that the Thai Minister brought up the question of obtaining assistance on a project to set up in China a Sino-Thai Army. In view of the Minister's having raised this latter question a copy of the memorandum of conversation of February 1, together with a copy of a memorandum of December 23 which the Thai Minister handed to an officer of the

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Continued from Foreign Relations, 1943, vol. III, pp. 1118–1125.
* Not printed.
3 Mom Rajawongse Seni Pramoj.
* Luang Pradist

Manudharm, also known as Nai Pridi Bhanomyong, member of the Thai Council of Regents.

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Department, is being referred to the War Department for its information and consideration.? Sincerely yours,

CORDELL HULL

892.01/53 Proposed Declaration by the British Government in Regard to

Thailand 8

The position of Thailand is in some respects unique in the Far East though not without parallel in Europe. A country with a long traditional friendship with us has, though admittedly under pressure from Japan, betrayed that friendship. Not content with collaborating with our enemy and despite her treaty of non-aggression with us the quisling government of Luang Pibul took the initiative in declaring war upon us. For these acts Thailand is already paying the price and will undoubtedly pay a yet heavier price as the war reaches her territories. It is still possible for the people of Thailand to do something to save themselves from the worst consequences of their betrayal, and they will be judged by the efforts that they make to redeem themselves from the position in which the action of their present régime has placed them. Like other countries in like case “They must work their passage home". If they do so they can look to this country to support the emergence of a free and independent Thailand after the war is over.10

892.01/52

The British Minister (Sansom) to the Deputy Director of the Office of Far Eastern Affairs (Ballantine)

WASHINGTON, February 28, 1944. DEAR BALLANTINE: Confirming my oral communication to you on February 26, this is to inform you that it is proposed to make the Declaration regarding Siam, of which I handed you a copy, at the first suitable opportunity.

• Not printed; it stated the Thai Minister's readiness “to enter into negotiations with the United States Government, with a view to carrying on to its honourable conclusion the Thai resistance as provided by law.” (892.01/48) For a further summary of this communication, see memorandum of December 31, 1943, by the Chief of the Division of Far Eastern Affairs, Foreign Relations, 1943, vol. III, p. 1121.

Letter of February 9 to the Secretary of War (Stimson), not printed. The reply of February 23 by the Acting Secretary of War (Patterson) stated: “The problem of supply to China is such as to require that we concentrate our efforts for some time to come on the United States forces and the Chinese forces currently receiving Lend-Lease aid. . . . it is not desired at this time to add unduly to the supply difficulties over the restricted lines of communication from India.” (892.01/49) For correspondenre on control of Lend-Lease supplies sent to China, see vol. vi, pp. 952 ff.

8 Handed to the Deputy Director of the Office of Far Eastern Affairs (Ballantine) on February 26 by the British Minister (Sansom).

Field Marshal Luang Pibul Songgram, Thai Premier.

10 Marginal notation : “Declaration to be made on first suitable occasionearly.”

We were instructed in handing you the text of the Declaration to give you a general statement of the policy of His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom towards Siam on the following lines:

The declaration does not in our opinion tie our hands as regards any political, economic or strategic arrangement which may be thought desirable in the interest of collective security after the war. Equally, it does not prejudice one way or the other the question of the ultimate recognition of a Free Siamese Committee, but we propose that this question should be left in abeyance pending further clarification of the complex issue involved. While there may be advantage in having Pradit outside of Thailand, we do not propose to offer to him or to anyone else any inducement to come out, beyond this declaration. We would not, for instance, at once offer him the presidency of a Free Siamese Committee or the unfreezing of Siamese funds. If he comes out we can reconsider the matter. Meanwhile our interest is confined to seeing that the best use is made of such Free Siamese material as is at our joint disposal. We propose to keep in close touch with the Department of State and trust that they will agree to consult us before any further step is taken.

I should add that I do not read the above statement as meaning that we shall not give what assistance is in our power to Pradit to enable him to leave Siam. Yours sincerely,

G. B. SANSOM

892.01/55

The Department of State to the British Embassy 11

This Government has given very careful consideration to the text of the declaration which the British Government proposes to make in regard to Thailand, a copy of which Sir George Sansom was so good as to bring personally to us. We have come to the conclusion that the declaration as it now stands would not be helpful in giving encouragement to the Thai people to resist the Japanese, might very likely be exploited by the Japanese to the disadvantage of the United Nations, and would augment distrust in the United States and in China and elsewhere of the motives of Great Britain. It is, in fact, this Government's feeling that it would be better that the British Government make no declaration rather than make the proposed one under consideration, and that, if the proposed declaration is to be made, it would be advisable that it include at least an unequivocal commitment that Great Britain has no territorial ambitions in Thailand.

11 Handed to the British Ambassador (Halifax) on March 20 by the Assistant Secretary of State (Berle). This document incorporated the substance of two memoranda sent by Acting Secretary of State Stettinius to President Roosevelt on March 8. One gave the Department's proposals “to crystallize its attitude towards Thailand” (892.01/50); the other stated the Department's views regarding the proposed British declaration (892.01/53). Both memoranda received Presidential approval.

As regards this Government's attitude toward Thailand, you are of course aware that the United States has not declared war on Thailand although the Thai Government, after Japanese occupation of Thailand, declared war on the United States.12 We look forward to an early expulsion from Thailand of the Japanese invaders. Until the Japanese are expelled from Thailand, we shall treat Thailand for various purposes, including economic and psychological warfare, as enemy occupied territory. In any situation in which Thai nationals or groups actively engage in or cooperate with the Japanese in military operations, whether offensive or defensive, against the forces of the United States or of other of the United Nations, and in any situation in which presence of Thai armed forces obstructs the operations or threatens the security of forces of the United Nations, we shall treat those Thai forces as enemies.

The United States continues to regard Thailand as an independent state. We do not recognize the present Thai government. We continue to recognize as "Minister of Thailand” the Thai Minister in Washington, who has denounced his government's cooperation with Japan. We regard with sympathy a free Thai movement in which the Thai Minister in Washington is a prominent figure. We have not made and we do not contemplate making at this time any political commitment to any particular Thai national or Thai group prejudicing the future political situation. We favor restoration to Thailand of complete freedom as a sovereign state and we favor creation in Thailand of a government which will represent the free will of the Thai people.

892.01/8–1644 : Telegram The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in the United Kingdom

(Winant)

WASHINGTON, August 16, 1944-5 p. m. 6486. Further conversations between officers of the British Embassy and of the Department with respect to a proposed declaration by the British Government in regard to Thailand were brought to a pause by a statement from the British Embassy on July 31, 1944 to the effect that “His Majesty's Government” does not believe that any useful purpose could be served by the issuance at this time of a state

12 See telegram 350, February 2, 1942, from Bern, Foreign Relations, 1942, vol. I, p. 915.

ment with respect to Thailand in the terms proposed. (See Department’s 3893 of March 28, 1944 13 enclosing copies of various documents regarding the Department's attempt to elicit a statement of British attitude toward Thailand.)

It is requested that in your discretion you approach Mr. Eden 14 and remind him that on February 26, 1944 Sir George Sansom, British Minister at Washington, transmitted to the Department a copy of a declaration which the British Government proposed to make in regard to Thailand to the effect that Thailand had “betrayed” its friendship with Great Britain, had collaborated with the enemy, had declared war, and that the Thai people would have to “work their passage home”. Subsequently on March 20 a statement regarding United States attitude toward Thailand was handed to Lord Halifax, British Ambassador in Washington, with comment that the proposed British statement was "rather rough” and that it might be misunderstood, as it failed to give any intimation that Thailand would be continued as an independent power. In the months that followed there were frequent discussions between officers of the British Embassy and of the Department which as indicated above were fruitless.

Several months ago officers of the Department raised the question with the Embassy as to whether the British Government had given consideration to the possibility of communicating to this Government a confidential statement of British policy toward Thailand. On July 31 the Embassy indicated that the matter of a confidential statement would be taken up with the Foreign Office by airmail.

You may say to Mr. Eden that this Government would view with extreme regret the inability of the United States and the United Kingdom to take an identical position with regard to problems which involve the long-term objectives for which this war is being fought. If, however, the British Government is reluctant, because of considerations involving the security or integrity of any British territory, to give the undertaking desired for the confidential information of this Government, it would hardly be necessary to remind the British Government that any such undertaking, if given at this time, would in no way prejudice the right of the British Government to present any such problem of territorial security or integrity to the United Nations for such consideration and action as they might consider desirable and helpful to British interests.

You might also state that absence of a statement of British intentions with respect to Thailand causes considerable inconvenience to this Government in that it delays decision on important cognate matters relating to Thailand and Indochina.

HULL

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13 This instruction not printed.

Anthony Eden, British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.

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