780.5/11–3053: Telegram

No. 164
The Secretary of State to the Embassy in Turkey1

top secret

686. For the Ambassador. Decision on extension of military assistance to Pakistan has not as yet been made by the US Government.2 Before requesting such a decision we wish to determine procedures to be followed in the event it is decided to go ahead. Conceivably the type of procedure that could be worked out might have a bearing upon the decision itself.

We think best way would be in form of support for some sort of regional defense cooperation initiated by states in the area. Believe this important both domestically and abroad to provide rationale for extension military aid programs beyond present geographical limits and to support our contention that assistance to Pakistan is directed toward defense against outside aggression and not against India or Afghanistan.

Recent reports from missions at Ankara, Baghdad, Tehran and Karachi seem to show that sole present possibility is to bring about bilateral Turk–Pakistani arrangement, which would however be open to adherence by others in future.

Urtel 557 November 303 quotes Governor General Ghulam Mohammed as saying President Bayar confirmed to him Turk willingness to enter immediately into “defense pact” with Pakistan and further willingness to include Iran if and when Iranian conditions indicate sufficient stability. If Governor General’s report correct and if he himself accurately reflects Pakistani views, there would seem to be no serious obstacle to early action by Turks and Pakistanis.

Unless you see objection request you approach Turks in greatest confidence without delay along following lines:

As Turk Government knows we have been considering program of military aid to Pakistan. We consider Pakistan has potential to make real contribution to defense of Middle East if assisted by Western Powers. However, there are certain obvious difficulties (such as Indian attitude) in way of military aid program and we have not yet come to final decision. We wish to consult Turks on this whole subject.
It seems to us that one way to minimize political repercussions and maximize Pakistani area defense contribution might be to link [Page 440] US aid program with initiation of mutual defense arrangements between Turkey and Pakistan and any other states in the area which might be interested and acceptable to first two. This would show that intent of US aid is to strengthen area defense against outside aggression rather than to take sides in disputes within area such as those that exist between Pakistan and her neighbors. Early creation of regional arrangement would have further advantage of enabling a start on regional defense planning which is highly desirable from military viewpoint.
We understand Governor General Ghulam Mohammed discussed with Turks (as he did with us) possibility of Turk–Pakistani defense arrangement with eventual addition of Iran and Iraq and possibly others. We should be glad to know whether Turks are disposed to consider this seriously.
We assume Turks would not envisage binding military alliance which might conflict with Turkey’s NATO obligations and go beyond present stage of Pakistani thinking. We believe, however, some looser arrangement (perhaps similar to Turk-Greek-Yugoslav pact), providing consultation and joint defense planning would be both practicable and useful. We would not contemplate participation by US or any other Western Power. Our part would be to assist such arrangement rather than participate as member.
We do not believe time has yet come for inclusion Iran or Afghanistan in such an arrangement. Similarly, most Arab states are too preoccupied with Palestine and disputes with West to be ready join anything savoring of Middle East Defense Organization, even without direct Western participation. We have however some reason to believe Iraq would not be unreceptive to defense planning, despite negative attitude of other Arabs. Iraqis have recently shown keen appreciation of Soviet threat through Iran and are pressing us for modest military aid (which we may give). We understand Ghulam Mohammed talked to King Faisal re defense planning and found sympathetic attitude. Since Iraq would obviously be important link in defense chain, it would seem desirable that any planning for regional defense arrangement should keep in view desirability of including her at some juncture. We would not however consider her participation need be a condition precedent to establishment of arrangement between Turkey and Pakistan.
In light of Turk views on foregoing, together with any other observations they may wish to make, we expect very shortly to review whole picture and arrive at final decision re military aid to Pakistan. If that decision is to go ahead and if Turks concur in general desirability of Turk–Pakistani defense arrangement as suggested above, we shall want to concert with Turks on tactics. We think it would be undesirable for US to take any public initiative. Either Turkey or Pakistan could lead off by proposing (to the other) exploratory bilateral talks. These might be secret at first but at some fairly early stage it would seem desirable that the two parties publicly announce their intention to negotiate. Simultaneously or shortly afterward Pakistan could make formal request for US military aid and we could make public favorable response based on idea of supporting collective security as exemplified by proposed Turk–Pakistani pact.

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We expect in the next few days to advise British of our line of thought as outlined above but do not plan to say anything further Pakistanis until we have Turk reaction.4

Consider it important avoid any publicity at this stage re approach to Turks.

  1. Repeated to Karachi, New Delhi, Tehran, Baghdad, Kabul, and London.
  2. See the memorandum by Byroade to Nash, Document 155.
  3. Document 161.
  4. Telegram 658 from Ankara, Dec. 29, advised the Department of State that the Ambassador had discussed the substance of this telegram with the Turkish Prime Minister on Dec. 28, and the Prime Minister said his thinking coincided with that outlined by the Ambassador. The Prime Minister confirmed his conversations with Ghulam Mohammed and told the Ambassador he had also had a recent conversation with the Ambassador of Iraq. (780.5/12–2953)