891.03/4–351: Telegram

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

secret

2666. 1. During talk with Bajpai today I referred newspaper reports offers USSR and Commie China food grains India. I said queries [Page 2138]wld undoubtedly be raised in US and hoped therefore GOI cld let us have some kind of statement re situation which cld be made public. I assumed since GOI had no funds purchase more than four million tons food grain any purchases which might be made from Russia or Commie China wld be to complete four million ton quota and that there wld still be outstanding need for two million tons which India was not in position obtain by purchase or barter. Furthermore I assumed that if GOI wld decide obtain food grain from Commie China or Russia it wld be because factors of price, shipping and prompt delivery would make such purchases from other countries including US more advantageous. Frank explanatory statement might help particularly in Congress. It was particularly important that impression shld not become prevalent in US that India was trying play Commie world and US off against each other in food grain matters.

2. Bajpai said he in agreement and wld immediately take up question with his govt re type of statement to be made. Despite numerous feelers sent out by Commie China and Russia GOI had not inquired re possibility obtaining food grain from those countries until it began to be clear that Congress wld not take action on food grain legislation for considerable length time. India’s situation was becoming daily more desperate and it had to have assurances of prompt food grain deliveries. He personally had little hope obtaining in quantity food grain promptly from Russia which desired barter deal and India had little available for barter. India might be able obtain certain amount food grains from Commie China if shipping cld be found and terms cld be arranged. Tentative terms offered by Commie China advantageous although question of kind of currency to be used was not settled. India cld not accept original Commie Chi suggestion of barter. Furthermore problem shipping from Commie China still unsolved. GOI regretted premature publicity which had emanated from Soviet and Commie Chi sources purely for propaganda purposes.

Henderson