government leaders have voiced their strongest criticism of the US in several years over what they believe to beending sale0 tons of Thai rice to South Vietnam. Some cabinet officials assert that Saigon withdrew from the negotiations on USnd they view the substitution ofelivery.of US rice toas clear evidence of US Foreign Ministeras led the attack, implying to the US ambassador that Washington's action was deliberately cutthroat and labeling as specious theexplanations to the contrary.
Although the Thai leadersore halcyon period night have treated the incident as anone, it has comeime when they are deeply troubled over the nature of theirwith the US. Alreadyover what they believe toeakening in the USto Thailand's security and dismayed over criticism in the US of Thailand's role in the Vietnam war, the Thai arestrongly to each instance in which Washington appears to be downgrading Thai interests.
Bangkok is apparentlyto pursue tho rice issue forcefully in an effort to regain an appearance of equality in its dealings with tho US. Although the Thai have boon careful in the past to mute their differences with the US, both Tnanat and Prino Minister Thanon havo nace thea central thane in recent press conferences. Thanom also said his government plans to put the controversy on the top of its list of things to discuss during Vice President Agnew's coming visit to Bangkok. Thanat has already_ warned the US ambassadorormal protest night be made if Washington is not "responsive" to his strong verbal protest.
Although tho Thai can beto press hard for greater US recognition of Thai interests, for instance in tho rice trade, they arc awaro of tho liolted leverage they can apply. Theover the rico contract will probably not go much beyondbut the Thai couldother matters of mutual such as tho determination of who has criminal jurisdiction in cases involving US personnel