12. Letter From the Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern, South Asian, and African Affairs (Berry) to the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs (Sprague)1
Dear Mr. Sprague : I have received your letter of January 172 addressed to Mr. Rountree and am pleased to have your comments on the proposed negotiations to reduce tensions between India and Pakistan. It is gratifying to know that you and the Joint Chiefs share our desire to find a practicable means to bring about a better relationship between India and Pakistan.
I should like to reassure you as to the two points which you raise. The agreement on arms limitations we have in mind would not involve a reduction in the armed strength of the two countries. It is specifically understood that Phase I of our commitment to Pakistan would be fulfilled. The objective would be limited to maintaining the armed strength of both India and Pakistan at agreed levels so that an increasing proportion of their income could be devoted to building the economic strength and stability so important to their capacity to resist both overt and covert aggression. We are convinced that the development of the economic strength of both countries is an essential part of the defense of the subcontinent as well as the Baghdad Pact and the SEATO areas.[Page 58]
The part of our proposal which mentions the defense of India and Pakistan against aggression is intended to be a reiteration by the President of statements already made regarding the willingness of the United States, in the event of aggression, to support either or both countries under the principles of the United Nations Charter. No commitment involving the use of U.S. forces is contemplated.
Mindful of the Defense Department’s position, as stated in your letter, the Department of State is proceeding to develop a negotiating plan for achieving the proposed improvement in Indo-Pakistan relations. I shall keep you informed of progress made and will look forward to discussing the pertinent details with you as successive steps are taken.