689.90D/11–2450: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Embassy in Pakistan 1


280. Zafrullah and Mohd Ali2 called on McGhee Nov 16. They thought Dept’s approach of Nov 6 re Afghan-Pak differences wld lead only “to interminable discussions with no chance of solving basic problem” of Durand Line, which Afghans have constantly insisted on discussing. They feared if Pak accepts Dept’s proposal Afghans will interpret this as recession from earlier Pak stand re internatl boundary and that no other problems (propaganda, tribal welfare, trade, etc.) cld be solved. McGhee pointed out many other problems might be settled by negots even though no agreement reached immed concerning Durand Line; US did not intend make Pak recede from its earlier position; and he was still confident talks between Paks and Afghans cld settle most, if not all, their differences.

In talk with Secy and McGhee Nov 17 Zafrullah and Mohd Ali maintained same position and pressed for clear US statement, similar to Brit, that US wld support Durand Line as valid. McGhee emphasized we did not believe it timely for us to make any such statement at present. Mohd Ali asked whether US wld make its attitude clear to Afghans in case talks broke down on this boundary issue and Secy stated that, in such event, we wld consider possibility of making our position clear to Afghans. Fol this conversation, Pak Amb requested firm commitment, before GOP able decide what action to take on Dept’s approach; that US wld clearly support validity of Durand Line.3

Afghan Chargé informed Nov 204 that Pak reaction to Nov 6 approach not yet recd and that Fon Min suggestions (Kabul’s 167 Nov 175) appeared generally acceptable to Dept.

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McGhee informed Ispahani Nov 276 that (1) if US to maintain its impartiality it cannot give commitments to either Afghans or Paks re talks proposed between them; (2) US position re boundary is implicit in prompt recognition accorded GOP in 1947, and in attitude which US has adopted toward Pushtoonistan question since its inception; and (3) if proposed talks shld break down over Durand Line issue we wld then give consideration to making US position re boundary explicit to Afghans.

Dept agrees ur view Murray’s suggestion (Embtel 450 Nov 24).7 In ur discretion, you may discuss three points in foregoing para with Pak FonOff, pointing out that shld be no doubt concerning US position re validity Durand Line but that to undertake at this time commitment to make such position explicit wld be inappropriate and wld tend prejudice outcome of talks which Dept obviously expects will lead to gen improvement Pak-Afghan relations even if Durand Line question remains outstanding.

  1. Repeated to Kabul 136, London 2804, Moscow, New Delhi, and USUN.
  2. Sir Mohammed Zafrulla Khan, Pakistani Foreign Minister, and Mohammed Ali, Secretary-General, Government of Pakistan.
  3. The memoranda recording these conversations of November 16 and 17, not printed, the first prepared on November 16 by T. W. Simons of the Office of South Asian Affairs and the second prepared on November 17 for the Secretary’s signature by T. E. Weil, Assistant Chief of that Office, are in Department of State files 357.AB/11–1650 and 11–1750.
  4. Memorandum of conversation between Mathews and Abdul Hamid Aziz, prepared on November 20 by R. S. Leach of the Office of South Asian Affairs, not printed (689.90D/11–2050).
  5. Not found in Department of State files.
  6. The memorandum of conversation covering this talk with the Pakistani Ambassador, dated November 27 and not printed, is in Department of State file 611.90D/11–2750.
  7. The suggestion referred to here was offered to the U.S. Embassy at London on November 20 by James D. Murray, head of the Southeast Asia Department of the British Foreign Office. The suggestion, reported in telegram 2969 from London on November 21, not printed, was to explain to the Pakistanis in Washington (a) that the U.S. view on the Durand Line was not of great consequence because the United States was not proposing to act as mediator in the Afghan-Pakistan talks and (b) that the United States could not at this time give any assurance to Pakistan on support of the Durand Line without endangering chances of successful negotiation should Afghanistan learn of it. Murray also suggested that the Department of State assure the Pakistanis that in the proposed negotiations with Afghanistan, the United States would not urge Pakistan to give up any of its territory. (689.90D/11–2150)

    Warren’s view concerning Murray’s suggestion, as expressed in telegram 450 from Karachi, not printed, was that the suggestion had best not be followed because Pakistan should know already from the way the proposal was originally presented on November 6 that the United States did not expect to act as mediator and because any U.S. assurance that the United States would not urge Pakistan to give up territory would imply the possibility that the United States might later assume the powers of a mediator (689.90D/11–2450).