Thais begin pitch for US arms
Singapore — As nations of the world line up for favors from the incoming Reagan administration, Thailand is preparing an aggressive public-relations campaign against the Vietnamese-dominated Cambodian government in Phnom Penh.
After home leave last week Thailand's ambassador to Washington, Prok Amaranand, was reported to have returned to the US with a special mission: to gain stepped-up arm sales to Thailand, and with less-stringent credit terms than so far imposed.
"We have been given only one-tenth of the $400 million offered to Pakistan and turned down by them," he was quoted in an in interview on the eve of his return.
The renewed Thai requests put the United States in a bind. On one hand, increasing aid to Thailand would be quite compatible with the Reagan policy of keeping relations cool with Vietnam; but aid for Thailand would also be aid for China, which shares Thailand's aims of straining and undermining Vietnam's presence in Cambodia. On the other hand, China, upset by Reagan's insistence on better relations with Taiwan, might find more aid for Thailand at least something of a palliative.
Mr. Prok has indicated the new Thai policy will include a wide array of steps to improve the American image of Thailand. He is reported to have said one of the most important tasks is to counteract certain US press coverage about Thailand and the Indochina situation.
Ambassador Prok is expected to enlist former US ambassadors to Thailand, such as Leonard Unger, Charles Whitehouse, and William Kintner, to build sympathy for Thailand on Capitol Hill.
He also plans to appoint honorary consuls in Seattle, Houston, Dallas, and Atlanta, in addition to the con suls in Honolulu, Boston, New Orleans, and El Paso.