Memorandum by the Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern, South Asian, and African Affairs (Byroade) to the Acting Secretary of State1

top secret


  • Conclusions Reached at Meeting of U.S. Ambassadors to South Asia


Our Ambassadors to Iran, India, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Burma and Ceylon2 held an informal meeting in Ceylon3 on February 12 and 13. My deputy, Jack Jernegan, also was present.4 The most most important subject discussed was the policies and influence of India in the South Asian area, with special reference to United States military assistance to Pakistan.5 The Ambassadors unanimously agreed that India is the major element in the South Asian area, but it was the consensus that while India can and will cause difficulties for the United States in the region this should not deter us from pursuing policies we think important, such as military aid to Pakistan. It was further agreed that India’s influence on the other states of the area is by no means decisive.

Certain specific conclusions of the meeting are given below. I should like to call especially to your attention the statement in numbered Paragraph 4 that “all of those present agreed with the decision to give military aid to Pakistan”.


None of the states in the conference area (Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Ceylon and Burma) genuinely desires Indian leadership or will necessarily follow India in international affairs.
India and Burma are the two staunchest advocates of neutralism in the conference area but Burma’s “neutralist” policy is an independent policy6 and Burma will strive to avoid Indian dictation. Afghanistan follows a policy of cautious neutralism although it has indicated [Page 1119] an interest in obtaining U.S. military aid.7 Pakistan has virtually aligned itself with the West. Iran is officially neutral but its government looks to the West.8 The present government of Iran would probably join the Turkish-Pakistan defense arrangement9 if through U.S. assistance it could build up an army at least capable of delaying defense action if attacked by the U.S.S.R. The Ceylonese Government rejects neutralism.10
There is little enthusiasm except in India for a third bloc. There is no present prospect of a general regional defense arrangement in South Asia proper.
American military aid to Pakistan is unlikely to arouse serious resentment or fear in any country of the area other than India, although certain elements in Burma, Afghanistan, Iran and possibly Ceylon will be critical and/or envious. In India itself, it is probable that the U.S. can weather the storm without disastrous consequences. All of those present agreed with the decision to give military aid to Pakistan.
The linking of military aid to Pakistan with the beginning of a regional defense arrangement in the Middle East will probably be politically beneficial to the United States and the free world. One of the benefits should be on the one hand a weakening of the neutralist sentiment in the area and on the other a strengthening of the hands of those who favor alignment with the West.
There is no sympathy for communism on the part of any of the governments in the area, so far as their domestic affairs are concerned. There is no serious threat of a communist takeover in any country at the present time. India’s relations with Soviet Russia are increasingly friendly and India is the only country in the area which attempts to maintain cordial relations with Red China. In Burma the relationship with Red China and the U.S.S.R. is correct and formal and in the case of Red China is primarily influenced by fear of Chinese power. Afghanistan is in the same position with respect to Russia and its relationship with Red China is also correct and formal. Ceylon has no diplomatic missions from or to Russia or Red China and openly discourages communist goodwill missions, trade delegations, and the like. Iran does not recognize Red China but attempts to maintain friendly relations with Russia. Pakistan maintains relations with Red China and Russia but is cool towards both.
American economic and technical aid is both desired and needed in all the States of the area. Even Burma, which has requested the discontinuance [Page 1120] of American technical assistance, is showing appreciation of the work already done and could reverse its action if certain unrelated political problems (such as the KMT troops) were out of the way. Ceylon, which is not receiving help because of its rubber-rice trade with China, may be prepared to break the Chinese contract next summer if the U.S. will offer substantial economic aid to cushion the blow of lost profits. A package deal might be worked out by which the U.S. could get certain military facilities it desired.

Generally speaking, our economic aid is proving effective in the countries to which it has been extended and should be continued during the coming fiscal year.11

  1. Copies of this memorandum were furnished to Deputy Under Secretary of State Robert Murphy; to Robert R. Bowie, Director of the Policy Planning Staff and Department of State Representative on the National Security Council Planning Board; and to Frederick E. Nolting, Special Assistant to the Secretary of State for Mutual Security Affairs.
  2. United States Ambassadors to these countries were, respectively, Loy W. Henderson, George V. Allen, Angus Ward, Horace A. Hildreth, William J. Sebald, and Philip K. Crowe.
  3. The meetings were held at Nuwara Eliya, Ceylon.
  4. Also present was James Espy, Counselor of Embassy, Ceylon.
  5. For documentation regarding the granting of U.S. military aid to Pakistan, see pp. 1818 ff. and volume ix.
  6. For documentation concerning U.S. political and economic relations with Burma, and United States concern with the presence of Chinese Nationalist troops in Burma, see volume xii.
  7. For documentation regarding U.S. policies with respect to Afghanistan, see pp. 1447 ff.
  8. For documentation regarding U.S. policies with respect to Iran, see volume x.
  9. For documentation, see volume ix.
  10. For documentation regarding U.S. policies with respect to Ceylon, see pp. 1499 ff.
  11. A detailed record of the proceedings of the Nuwara Eliya meetings, along with related materials pertaining to the meetings, is in Department of State files 120.4382 and 120.4346E.