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Foreign Relations of the United States, 1969–1976
Volume XI, South Asia Crisis, 1971, Document 180


180. Editorial Note

President Nixon and Henry Kissinger met in the Oval Office of the White House on the morning of November 5, 1971, to discuss Nixon's conversation with Prime Minister Gandhi on the previous day. Kissinger's overall assessment was that “the Indians are bastards anyway. They are starting a war there.… To them East Pakistan is no longer the issue. Now, I found it very interesting how she carried on to you yesterday about West Pakistan.” He felt, however, that Nixon had achieved his objective in the conversation: “While she was a bitch, we got what we wanted too&. She will not be able to go home and say that the United States didn't give her a warm reception and therefore in despair she's got to go to war.” Kissinger judged that Gandhi had been thwarted in her objective: “She would rather have had you give her a cool reception so that she could say that she was really put upon.” Nixon agreed: “We really slobbered over the old witch.” Kissinger felt that on matters of substance, nothing of importance had been conceded: “You slobbered over her in things that did not matter, but in things that did matter, you didn't give her an inch.” Nixon and Kissinger agreed that in the upcoming conversation with Gandhi the approach to take was to be “a shade cooler” and allow her to do more to carry the conversation than had been the case in the initial conversation. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Tapes, Recording of conversation between Nixon and Kissinger, November 5, 1971, 8:51–9:00 a.m., Oval Office, Conversation No. 615–4) A transcript of this conversation is published in Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume E–7, Documents on South Asia, 1969–1972, Document 150.

President Nixon and Prime Minister Gandhi met in the Oval Office at 11:20 a.m. on November 5. Kissinger and Haksar were also present. Nixon opened the conversation by discussing the objectives of his planned trip to China. Thereafter the conversation, which lasted an hour, became a diplomatic tour d'horizon, touching on many of the trouble spots of the world, but with scant reference to South Asia. Gandhi did not respond to Nixon's proposal of the previous day to consider a withdrawal of forces from the borders of India and Pakistan. (Ibid., Recording of conversation between President Nixon and Prime Minister Gandhi, November 5, 1971, 11:20 a.m.–12:20 p.m., Oval Office, Conversation No. 615–23) Kissinger prepared a memorandum of the conversation (ibid., White House Special Files, President's Office Files, Box 2, Memoranda for the President, Beginning October 31, 1971) which is published in Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume E–7, Documents on South Asia, 1969–1972, Document 151.