163. Memorandum of a Conversation Between Secretary of State Dulles and Prime Minister Nehru, Blair House1

I reported briefly to Mr. Nehru about the NATO Council meeting from which I had just returned. I explained that there was considerable misunderstanding about our attitude toward the attack on Egypt. The real basis for our complaint was not failure to consult but the fact that the attack involved a violation of the basic provisions of the United Nations Charter and the North Atlantic Treaty. Mr. Nehru said that this point of view coincided with their own. Their objection had not been failure to consult, although there had been such failure, but the use of force as an instrument of national policy.

We discussed briefly the Chinese Communist situation. I said that before there could be any change in our attitude there would have to be a number of changes on the part of the Chinese Communist regime. At the moment the sticking point was the ten Americans imprisoned. So long as they were imprisoned we could not allow other Americans to visit despite very strong pressures from our news-gathering agencies which have been invited by Communist China.

Mr. Nehru said that Chou En-Lai had indicated that there were failures on our part. I denied this in some detail and suggested that he check with Ambassador Mehta.

[Page 330]

[In this connection I said that I was sorry to learn that Ambassador Mehta might be leaving.2 He was a very fine Ambassador and we had developed good understanding with him.]3

We discussed the Baghdad Pact. Mr. Nehru said that whatever had been the original intention it had been diverted into Arab politics. He thought that the Iraq Government was very unstable and unpopular and he hoped that the United States would not be joining the Pact. This action might forfeit the increasing esteem with which we were now held by the Arab peoples.

I said that there was considerable pressure to have us join the Pact at the present time. It was still under consideration. Some [of our Defense] people have felt that we should join to check Soviet aggression in the area. The matter was still in abeyance and we recognized the complications of Arab politics, of which Mr. Nehru spoke.

Mr. Nehru said that just before he left New Delhi he had had a message from the Government of Laos saying they were greatly concerned that we had informed them that if they carried out their agreement with the Pathet Laotians, we would cut off our aid. Mr. Nehru said that while undoubtedly there were some Communist elements in the Pathet group the leader4 was, he thought, more of a nationalist than a Communist. I said that I was not up to date on this matter, but I knew we felt that the entry of the Pathet group into the government, particularly having regard to the posts which they demanded, would quickly lead to a Communist takeover and under those circumstances we were not interested in helping the government economically and financially. I said I would look into the matter and get up to date and advise him further before he left.

We discussed the European satellite situation. Mr. Nehru said that forces were at work which demonstrated within Russia a desire for more security and freedom and in the satellites for a greater recognition of their independence. He did not think that the Communists had liquidated or could liquidate the desire for nationalism.

I recalled the talk which I had had some months ago with the Yugoslav Foreign Minister5 where he had said that there should be friendly governments around Russia. I had agreed but said that unless the Russians move fast they would find themselves surrounded by hostile peoples and, consequently, in the long run, hostile governments. Events had demonstrated my point more rapidly than I had expected. Mr. Nehru agreed that the Russians had been too [Page 331] slow to recognize nationalistic trends. He felt that the present situation was fraught with danger and I said I had taken the same position in my estimate of the world situation that I had given at the NATO meeting.

  1. Source: Department of State, Conference Files: Lot 62 D 181, CF 830. Secret. The distribution of this memorandum of conversation was limited, with the sections in brackets intended only for the Under Secretary of State, the Legal Adviser, and NEA. The Bureau of Far Eastern Affairs was only to receive the comments on Laos. Nehru arrived in Washington December 16, spent some of December 17 and 18 with the President at Gettysburg, returned to Washington on December 18, and departed for New York December 20.
  2. Mehta remained as Ambassador until 1958.
  3. All brackets in this document are in the source text; see footnote 1 above.
  4. Prince Souphanouvong.
  5. Koča Popović.