The Ambassador in India (Henderson) to the Secretary of State
Ref: Deptel 1316, February 20, 19511
Subject: Report on Conversation with the Prime Minister of India, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, at noon on February 20, 1951 regarding the international situation.[Page 2119]
Sir: I have the honor to report that I had a conversation with Mr. Nehru, Prime Minister of India, which lasted for approximately an hour. This conversation was arranged at my request in order that I might have an opportunity to obtain some of the Prime Minister’s current views with respect to the international situation before my departure for Ceylon to attend the pending American Foreign Service conference.2
I found the Prime Minister in an excellent humor. In none of my previous conversations had he ever been so friendly or talked with such apparent frankness. He made use of his great personal charm and was evidently anxious to persuade. It is easy to understand how, when the Prime Minister is in such a mood, he is so frequently able to win over so many persons, particularly those without profound convictions based on their own experiences. In fact, as I listened to him I found myself rather regretful that I could not agree with him and say with all honesty that he was quite right and was, in my opinion, pursuing the policy most likely to preserve the peace of the world.
I did not undertake to argue with the Prime Minister, since his remarks were in response to my request that he give me his views with regard to the present international situation and also his ideas as to what would be the best way for coping with this situation. It was impossible for me to guide the conversation, and his brilliant mind wandered at will from one subject to another somewhat regardless of relevance and sequence. Nevertheless he made quite clear the broad outlines of his thinking and of the policies based on his thinking.
I regret that I found no opportunity to ask some of the questions which I hoped to be able to put to the Prime Minister, and was unable to focus our conversation on some of the more concrete problems of South Asia. No mention was made, for instance, of Nepal or any of the differences, including Kashmir, existing between India and Pakistan. Little was said also about the present state of relations between India and the United States.
- Telegram 1316 to New Delhi, sent February 19, contained suggested topics for Ambassador Henderson’s anticipated talk with Prime Minister Nehru (611.91/2–1751).↩
- The South Asian Regional Conference of United States Diplomatic and Consular Officers, held at Nuwara Eliya, Ceylon, February 26 through March 3, 1951. For documentation on the conference, see pp. 1650 ff.↩
- Presumably, reference is to Prime Minister Nehru’s message dealing with the Korean situation; telegram 1171, January 27, to New Delhi, is scheduled for publication in volume vii.↩
- Iosif Vissarionovich Stalin, Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Soviet Union. Reference is to Stalin’s interview of February 16 with a correspondent of the Soviet paper Pravda, the text of which is in Keesing’s Contemporary Archives, 1950–1951, p. 11303.↩