The Ambassador in India (Bowles) to the
Department of State
3733. Bajpai called me to his office to discuss cable just recd from Panikkar1 in Peking. Panikkar statement was as fols:
- Several weeks ago he had felt rather optimistic about outlook for truce agrmt in Korea; however recent devels, particularly the bitterness and vigor with which the Commies had pressed germ warfare charges, had convinced him the Chi were not in mood for agrmts of any kind.
- It was his considered opinion that Chi, fully supported by the Sov Union was about to embark on a broad program of aggression which might readily lead to third world war; that this policy had grown out of the conviction of Chi-Commies and Sov Union that Western armament program was far behind schedule and that US and its associates were too weak to handle a world-wide conflagration successfully.
- Panikkar further stated that the dangers that he foresaw might not develop in the next few weeks, but that he was most pessimistic about outlook, and anxious to leave China as quickly as he can be released (Bajpai said this wld be May at latest and that his successor wld definitely be Raghavan, now GOI Min at Bern).
Bajpai stated that the PriMin,2 … was inclined to believe that the situation might be as serious as it had been described. However, he (Bajpai) disagreed and indeed had just sent a memo to the PriMin in which he had said that in his opinion it wld be mistake to take the … story too seriously:
. . . . . . .
- Chi-Commies and/or Sov Union may have deliberately planted statements and rumors to convince Panikkar of this dire turn of [Page 44]events on the theory that this might bring forth further compromises from us in Korea.
- It was quite possible that Chi might embark on irresponsible campaign of aggression but in his judgement it was most unlikely that the Sov Union wld allow itself to become involved in an action of that kind. In Bajpai opinion the Sov Union is well aware of US industrial power and the fact that USSR cannot win Third World War. However he did not discount possibility that Sov Union wld allow or even encourage the Chi-Commies to embark on an aggressive program in which they themselves wld not take a direct part unless later developments indicated the West’s inability to cope with the conflagration which the Chi had started.
Bajpai emphasized that while … we shld by no means brush aside the situation and that now was time to take any possible step that might conceivably ease the situation. He then specifically but unofficially urged me to propose to my govt that we draw up a carefully prepared statement of our intentions in Asia, our desire for peace, our determination to oppose aggresion etc., and that we make our position known to Chi Commie Govt. He stated that Mrs. Pandit’s mission to Peking had come at very opportune time and, although he had not discussed situation with her or the PriMin he felt there wld be no question of her willingness to carry it to Mao Tse-tung.
His proposal is very close to my own suggestion in Embtel 3690, April 9. We believe this proposal shld be given every possible consideration. Certainly there cld be no harm in a restatement of American motives in Asia. In our opinion Mrs. Pandit is a reliable agent to transmit these views to Peking in a sympathetic and responsible way.
While there is strong likelihood any suggestions of ours will fall on deaf ears, at the very minimum we will strengthen confidence of GOI in us and, in addition we will have established clear record as to our willingness to reach agrmt on any reasonable basis and to the fact that we are not responsible for whatever may occur.
This msg cld take form of ltr from the Secretary or the President directly to Mrs. Pandit, or if we wish a somewhat less official approach, it cld be sent to me for discussion with Mrs. Pandit. Since the msg wld be signed for Mao Tse-tung, we believe it wld carry more weight if it came in form of letter from the President himself. If the letter is sent to me, a copy cld be given to Mrs. Pandit. We are preparing suggested letter which we will transmit to you on Monday3 by tel.4