91 Mr A. Eden, U.K. Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs, to Mr S. M. Bruce, High Commissioner in London

Letter LONDON, 6 March 1940


You will remember that you recently enquired about the position with regard to the non-aggression pacts between Thailand and the United Kingdom, France and Japan respectively. [1] You mentioned that the pact with us had been held up because the French were unable to agree to the frontier rectification embodied in their pact, and you drew attention to the fact that in the meantime Japan had, apparently, made the signature of her pact contingent on recognition by Thailand of the Wang regime [2], and that there appeared to be some danger that Thailand might join with Japan, Italy and Germany in recognising Wang. You thought that the Commonwealth Government were likely to be disturbed by the situation which appeared to be developing, and suggested that steps should be taken to persuade the French Government to waive the objections which they had hitherto seen to the conclusion of their non-aggression pact with Thailand.

We have been making enquiries of the Foreign Office, and the following is the present position:-

It appears from a recent despatch from Sir Josiah Crosby [3] that the Japanese have rejected the Thai proposal that they should sign a non-aggression pact. It is, therefore, not the case that Japan had made the signature of her pact contingent on the recognition of Wang by the Thai Government, although Sir Josiah Crosby conjectures that such recognition may be what the Japanese are hoping for. The actual position is that there is reason to believe that in rejecting the proposed non-aggression pact the Japanese suggested that the Thai Government should sign a 'pact of co- operation' with her. While negotiations with the United Kingdom and French Governments continue, it is not thought that the Thai Government will agree to conclude such a pact of co-operation; but the danger is that a failure to conclude a pact of non-aggression between Thailand, on the one hand, and ourselves and/or the French, on the other, might open the door to an increase of Japanese influence in Thailand to the detriment of British and French interests.

The Foreign Office are fully alive to this danger, and have been considering how best to bring the negotiations with the Thai Government to a satisfactory conclusion. In doing so, they have given full weight to the wishes of the Commonwealth Government expressed in their telegram No. 20 of the 19th January [4], and they have been bearing in mind your suggestion.

It is the case that the French have hitherto not seen their way to meet the Thai Government proposal for a re-delimitation of a portion of the frontier; and, as the Thai Government have in effect made their offer of a non-aggression pact contingent on a settlement of the frontier question, negotiations for the conclusion of a Franco-Thailand pact of non-aggression are at a standstill. We have no desire to embarrass the French Government in any way, but, in view of the desirability, in French as well as British interests, that the Anglo-Thailand pact should be concluded as early as possible, we are urging the French Government to raise no objection to our proceeding with our negotiations irrespective of the state of the Franco-Thailand negotiations.

Incidentally, the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs recently submitted a memorandum communicating their observations as to the text of our pact with Thailand. The Foreign Office propose to agree with the French Government on the points of form raised [5], in order that we may be in a better position to persuade the French Government, should this later be necessary, to adopt a more accommodating attitude over more essential matters.

A despatch has been received from Sir Josiah Crosby stating that the Thai Government have authorised the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to proceed with the negotiations for the conclusion of the pact between the United Kingdom and Thailand, and have expressed their readiness to accept our own draft of the non-aggression pact, subject to a few minor alterations.

The amendments suggested by the French and Thai Governments are at present receiving considerations copies of the correspondence will be sent to the Dominion Governments and to you as soon as the replies to Paris and Bangkok have been settled.

His Majesty's Ambassador at Paris [6] has now reported that the French Minister [7] has handed to the Thai Government a draft of the French non-aggression pact and has at the same time indicated that the French authorities would perhaps not be averse from discussing the administrative difficulties which might be caused by the present delimitation of the frontier. The Head of the Far Eastern Department [8] told His Majesty's Representative that the French Ministry of the Colonies had shown themselves more forthcoming and that he thought that if the Thai Government showed any readiness to take up the hint, a colonial official would be sent out from Paris to conduct discussions. The Head of the Far Eastern Department emphasised that the two questions-treaty and administrative discussions-would be kept entirely separate.


1 This appears to refer to the approach reported by Bruce in his cablegram of 26 January 1940 (Document 35).

2 Wang Ching-wei led the Japanese-sponsored government established at Nanking on 30 March 1940.

3 U.K. Minister at Bangkok.

4 See Document 17, note 2.

5 At this point die letter was annotated by the External Affairs Officer in London, A. T. Stirling, 'i.e. to give the French an assurance that in the case of a Thai attack on them we should at once terminate the pact'.

6 Sir Ronald Campbell.

7 Paul Lepissier.

8 Jean Chauvel.