Records of the U.S. State Department: Laos, Political Relations and Governmental Affairs, February 1963-1966, Subject-Numeric File POL

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In the mid-1960s, U.S. support of Souvanna Phouma’s government did not constitute, technically speaking, a violation of the terms of the 1962 Geneva Protocol, as Radio Hanoi and Radio Pathet Lao charged. It did not involve Laos in a military alliance, and there were no U.S. military bases or ground troops in Laos. Supply flights to Royal Laotian Government (RLG) outposts were flown by civilian companies under charter to Souvanna Phouma’s government.

On the periphery of the plenary sessions at Geneva in 1962, W. Averell Harriman and his deputy, William H. Sullivan, had arrived at an informal understanding with Soviet deputy foreign minister Georgi M. Pushkin to the effect that as long as the U.S. did not technically violate the Geneva Protocol the Soviet Union would not feel compelled, out of consideration of its ally in Hanoi, to respond to U.S. activities in Laos. The official curtain of secrecy associated with this arrangement gave rise later to statements in Congress that the U.S. was engaged in a "secret war" in Laos, a perspective that obscured the Ho Chi Minh government of responsibility for its support of the communist-dominated resistance movement in Laos since 1945.

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