156. Memorandum of Conversations Between Secretary of State Dulles and Prime Minister Nehru, Prime Minister’s Residence, New Delhi, March 9, 1956, 4 p.m. and March 10, 1956, 10:30 a.m.1


We discussed the evolution in Russia. Mr. Nehru felt that on the basis of his observations there was a very great change going on. There was more tolerance, greater education and the people were [Page 307] becoming technically minded. He said a copy of his book had been translated and was now widely circulated in Russia. This illustrated the increasing opening up of Russia to new ideas. He believed that their desire to increase their domain had diminished and indeed had expired. The development was like that in France where the violent and bloody revolution gradually subsided into nationalism and acceptance of normal relations. He thought that the Chinese, although inherently less aggressive than the Russians, were as yet more aggressive because of their greater nearness to their revolution.

He thought we were making a great mistake in not recognizing Communist China. It was a fact and it was better to recognize it voluntarily when we had a choice than to do so later on more or less under compulsion. He spoke of Taiwan and felt that a solution of Taiwan might very well be deferred for a good many years, but he said the offshore-island business was another matter. We could not stand getting shot at every day from across straits of only a few miles in width.

He discussed his attitude toward collective security arrangements. He said he recognized that NATO might have been born of a real necessity. He doubted the genuine security value of any of the Asian arrangements. He bitterly deplored SEATO and Baghdad, which he felt Pakistan had entered not for security against the Soviet Communists but in order to get strength to use against India. He felt that the Pakistanis were a martial people and a fanatical people who could readily attack India. The present government might not have that intention, but the situation was unstable and governments could readily change. He deplored the fact that United States armament of Pakistan was leading India to arm and to make large expenditures for defense when it wanted to concentrate its efforts on improving its economic and social condition. (In this discussion of Pakistan with which he dealt at length, he showed signs of strong emotion.)

We discussed the situation in the Near East. Mr. Nehru bitterly condemned the British policy which he said was doomed to failure.

He felt that there was a failure on the part of the Western leaders really to appreciate the evolution that was going on in Asia. We were still dealing with potentates who represented the old regime, and that was doomed. It was necessary to get en rapport with the new spirit. Pakistan, Iraq and so forth were still feudal communities. He defended Egypt taking arms from the Soviet Union on the ground that it could not get them elsewhere.

In answer to my description of our policy toward colonialism, Mr. Nehru said that he recognized that our ties with Britain, France and so forth were such that we could not openly break with them. However, he, Nehru, had to identify himself with the new movement [Page 308] of the peoples of Asia. He felt the same way toward Africa, but was not as active there because that was really beyond the area of his responsibility.

(The conversation was intimate and animated and informal. We sat and walked at various places in the room and at the end Nehru was sitting on the back of the sofa.)

The conversation was resumed with Mr. Nehru attacking Pakistan with great emotion as being a military state run by the Army. He described the border incidents around Kashmir. He renewed his attack on SEATO as essentially involving an alliance with Pakistan against India. I said, “Why don’t you join SEATO?” He looked somewhat startled and said I could hardly expect him to join an organization of which he morally disapproved and which he thought mischievous. I said he might be able to change its character if he were a member.

He spoke of the necessity of India raising its level of forces much as he had done the day before.

In connection with the talk about Goa where he repeated the well-known Indian line, he said that he felt that he might have to publicize our diplomatic correspondence,2 and asked my permission. I said obviously I could not refuse permission, but I did not think it would help our relations to have this correspondence published. I might ask Ambassador Cooper to speak to him further about this phase of the matter.

John Foster Dulles3
  1. Source: Department of State, Secretary’s Memoranda of Conversation: Lot 64 D 199. Secret. Drafted by Dulles on March 10. Dulles came to New Delhi on March 9 directly from Karachi, where he had attended a SEATO meeting. A somewhat different version of this conversation, also prepared by Dulles, is ibid., Central Files, 791.13/3–1056.
  2. Documentation is ibid., 753D.00.
  3. Printed from a copy which bears this typed signature.