Memorandum of Conversation, by the Director of the Office of Far Eastern Affairs (Ballantine)

Participants: Sir George Sansom, British Minister
Mr. Landon32
Mr. Ballantine

Sir George Sansom called at his request and handed me a statement, a copy of which is attached,33 giving particulars in regard to a Thai mission to Ceylon, concerning which we had previously exchanged information orally. I read the document and commented that I could appreciate that the British Government would not want an agency of its Government other than the Foreign Office to discuss political questions with a Thai delegation. I said that of course we would study the statement and give him later any comments that might occur to us. Sir George said that Dening,34 a Foreign Office representative, was in Kandy and would probably talk with the Thai in an exploratory way.

Sir George handed me another paper35 which he said he had intended to communicate to me orally in regard to the British Government’s refusal to grant a visa for Mr. Sanasen36 to proceed to Kandy to confer with the Thai delegate there.

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I then brought Sir George up to date on our exploratory conversations with the Thai delegation here. I said that we had made no decisions and felt that before making any decisions we should talk matters over with the British and possibly await the arrival in Washington of Ambassador Hurley, who was expected here shortly and who might give us some light on the China angle of the situation. I said that it seemed to us that the situation was moving rapidly and that some agreement should speedily be reached between the Chinese, British, and American Governments in regard to dealing with the Thai situation. I said that we had many evidences from our OSS representatives that the Thai were giving material assistance to our military agencies and that an effective underground was in operation. I said I believed that in order to help our war effort it was highly desirable that we capitalize on the willingness of the Thai to cooperate by giving them as much encouragement as we could. I said that I could not say how far our Government could go at this moment toward meeting the Thai wishes, but I felt that even if we could agree on the establishment of a Free Thai committee and on giving it a certain amount of support and assistance it would contribute toward enlisting Thai military cooperation. I said that perhaps agreement on a Free Thai committee would call for more in the nature of military help to them than commitments of a political character and moreover early action on this point might ease the situation so far as the Chinese Government is concerned, which apparently seemed disposed to go further with the Thai. I said that I was not in position to make any definite proposal as a basis for agreement among us, but thought that we could explore the matter further after he had thought the matter over and had consulted with his Government.

Sir George seemed to be very receptive to the idea of going ahead with this matter and he thought that his Government would be impressed by the thought that agreement on a Free Thai committee might afford a means of obtaining maximum military contribution in exchange for military support with a minimum of political commitment. He also seemed to be impressed with the desirability of avoiding any possibility of the Chinese going ahead on their own. I told him that I could not say how much we would have to agree to as a minimum necessary to satisfy the Thai. That would have to be explored, but I felt that at least some beginning should be made at this time with the idea that we could move forward much more easily after a beginning had been made than if we should await some future time before taking any action at all. It was arranged that Sir George would let me know when he had an opportunity to consider the subject and we could discuss the problem further. I said that the Thai might become restive if we neglected them and it was my thought [Page 1251] that we keep hi constant touch with them. He seemed impressed with the importance of moving ahead with this matter.

J[oseph] W. B[allantine]
  1. Kenneth P. Landon, Assistant Chief of the Division of Southwest Pacific Affairs.
  2. Infra.
  3. M. E. Dening, Chief Political Adviser to the Supreme Allied Commander, Southeast Asia Command.
  4. Note for oral communication to Mr. Ballantine, February 21, not printed.
  5. Mani Sanasen, Secretary of the Thai Legation.