611.91/11–350: Telegram

The Ambassador in India (Henderson) to the Secretary of State

top secret

1075. Embtel 1067, November 3.1 1. During my conversations of November 2 with Nehru he made several references to India’s policy of “non-alignment”. He seemed to be under impression that US was anxious for India to change this policy. I told him I wished to make clear to him what attitude of US Government was in this regard.

2. I said US had no intention or desire to try to bring about change in what it understands to be India’s basic foreign policy. This policy, as we understood it, was that India would not align itself with either of what it termed “power blocs”, but would follow policy of deciding each international problem on its merits. Fact was US was not asking any power to “align” itself with it in any bloc. US did not consider that it belonged to bloc, unless cooperation among powers to discourage aggression might be considered as operations of bloc. US was, however, not dissatisfied with policy of India of deciding each question on its merits. It was convinced that basic international objectives of India and US were similar if not identical and that therefore differences which might develop between them in making of international decisions would be primarily of methods, tactics, or timing rather than of substantive nature. The US was concerned, however, at habit of Indian press and sometimes of Indian leaders of attributing to US unworthy motives when divergencies in foreign policy developed. We really were trying to understand factors and emotions which prompted India and other Asian peoples to react to world events and trends somewhat differently from ourselves. We were also endeavoring not to be unfair in criticism of their motives. It seemed reasonable to us to expect similar attitude on part of India and other free Asian countries. We thought India could follow an independent policy without questioning our motives whenever we had differences.

3. Nehru expressed surprise at my remarks. He said that at Lake Success and elsewhere it seemed to him US was continually trying to persuade GOI to follow in its wake. Many statements issued by US officials would indicate that US was anxious to have countries including India go along with it, particularly in connection with matters relating to collective security. I replied we had come to conclusion that aggression was at present chief threat to world peace and that best way to prevent aggression was for potential aggressors to realize that aggression on their part would be met by solid and determined [Page 1472] collective opposition to it on part all free countries. It was natural therefore for us to wish that India on every appropriate occasion should indicate its determination to oppose aggression. We were of opinion that GOI could register such determination without abandoning its policy of “non-alignment”.

4. Nehru said that he was deeply interested in what I said. It would be helpful if on appropriate occasion US Government could authoritatively issue announcement to effect it was not expecting any powers align themselves with any bloc. I told him that I thought that in general most countries of free world knew what our ideas in this respect were. Nevertheless if he thought it would be helpful suitable occasion might be found to issue some kind of statement clarifying our position.

  1. Telegram 1067, not printed, described the general tenor of the 3-hour evening conversation and identified the range of subjects covered (611.91/11–350).