22. Memorandum of a Conversation, Department of State, Washington, March 19, 19581


  • Indo-Pakistan Relations


  • Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, Vice President of India
  • Ambassador Gaganvihari Mehta, Indian Embassy
  • The Secretary
  • NEA—Mr. William M. Rountree
  • SOA—Mr. Frederic P. Bartlett

During Dr. Radhakrishnan’s unofficial two-day visit to Washington, he met with the Secretary for about half an hour. Several matters were discussed, including the above subject.

The Secretary told Dr. Radhakrishnan that he sincerely hoped the long continuing problems which had disturbed Indo-Pak relations could be settled. He explained the difficulty which was posed for the United States when it wished to be friends with two countries or groups who themselves were disputing between each other, noting as examples: Arabs-Israelis, Saudi Arabians-Egyptians, Indonesians-Dutch. In instances of this kind it seemed to the United States that the Soviets invariably tried to move in and make the local disputes more acute. Although the countries with which we wish to have friendly relations might not all be considered to have free domestic political institutions, they were alike in being free from international communism and, therefore, presumably the Russians consider it to be in their national interest to try to weaken them by setting one against the other.

Dr. Radhakrishnan stated that it was hard for the Government of India to deal with Pakistan on basic issues since the government of that country was unrepresentative. It had not had any national election since it gained its independence. He believed that the lack of internal political stability in Pakistan tended to encourage its shaky governments to stress external conflicts in order to distract their people from domestic problems. India actually would like to see Pakistan prosper both politically and economically since India’s own prosperity was closely bound up with that of its neighbor. Pakistan, on the other hand, apparently wished to develop positions of military strength before seriously negotiating with India.

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The Secretary continued that Dr. Radhakrishnan must know that India was causing the United States a lot of trouble through its purchase of bombers from Great Britain. He did know one thing, Dr. Radhakrishnan said, and that was that India’s purchases of bombers, jet fighters, tanks, etc. were being used by Pakistan as an argument to secure more military aid from the United States.

The Secretary and Mr. Rountree both concluded this portion of the conversation by calling Dr. Radhakrishnan’s attention to the fact that actually Pakistan did not presently have any bombers at all.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 033.9111/3–1958. Confidential. Drafted by Bartlett. Radhakrishnan also met with President Eisenhower; see Document 207.