247. Memorandum of a Conversation, New Delhi, December 10, 1959, 11:30 a.m.1



  • India
    • Prime Minister Nehru
    • Mr. N.R. Pillai, Secretary General, MEA
    • Mr. B. Dutt, Foreign Secretary
  • United States
    • The President
    • Ambassador Murphy
    • General Goodpaster
    • Ambassador Bunker


  • Relations Between India and Pakistan; Trend of Developments in USSR and Communist China

The President and Mr. Nehru first had a conversation lasting a little more than an hour. They were then joined by the above individuals for a more general conversation.

The President said he had had informative talks in Pakistan and Afghanistan, where great economic efforts were in progress.2 Nehru agreed, commenting that great forces were at work in Asia. The President asked if he had any specific points he wished to discuss. Nehru said that peace is the central issue. The President observed that peace can be endangered by specific problems, and that both positive and [Page 522] preventative steps are needed to safeguard it. Using China as an example, he said there must be a question whether it is better to let the matter slide or to get more severe.

The President mentioned his pleasure at the improvement in Indo-Pak relations, saying that he had received a favorable impression of General Ayub’s sincerity of purpose and his desire to live at peace with India and to bring about a settlement of the problems presently affecting relations between the two countries. The President added that, whatever one might think of the way in which General Ayub came to power, he was impressed by General Ayub’s desire to develop Pakistan economically and believed that the latter felt that both his own country and India would make more rapid progress if their differences were resolved. President Ayub felt that the real threat to both countries was from the north, through Afghanistan in the West and through Burma.

The President offered to do anything that might be considered helpful, stressing that, of course, he was not here in the position of mediator but that he regarded the problems of the subcontinent as of such importance to the free world that he would be glad to be helpful in any way he could.

Mr. Nehru then referred to what he termed the “peculiar” relations between India and Pakistan. They were essentially the same people; for example, the brother of the Chief of Protocol in the Indian Ministry of External Affairs had until recently been Secretary General of the Pakistan Foreign Office. Cousins were generals in both armies, yet this feeling of animosity which had grown up had persisted. The number of refugees had created a big problem for both countries but progress had been made, and the refugees in Western India and the Punjab had been placed or taken care of, though it was still a major problem in Bengal. Partition had left a financial problem in its wake, for the refugees in most instances had simply abandoned their properties, and, consequently, a settlement had to be worked out between the two countries as to the amounts owed. In general, the Hindus who left Pakistan were fairly well to do, whereas the Muslims who left India were of a poorer class. Consequently, the amounts owed by Pakistan were probably considerably larger than those owed by India. Mr. Nehru added that talks looking toward a settlement had been going on for some time and were, in fact, taking place at the present moment in Delhi. He hoped that now it would be possible to come to an agreement on the amounts owed.

Mr. Nehru said that he thought a better feeling is developing between India and Pakistan. Bitterness has diminished. It could however be inflamed again by demagogues at any time since the people could be quickly aroused. The President commented that it may help [Page 523] to establish friendlier relations between the people to have the Governments show the way—perhaps through establishment of contact between the leaders.

Mr. Nehru said that there had been several favorable developments in Indo-Pak relations, the eastern border problem had been settled and talks were to take place on the western border problem in January. He was hopeful that this, too, would be settled satisfactorily. He remarked that progress had been made on the Indus Waters question also.

Mr. Nehru said that he hoped very much progress would continue but that every once in a while Pakistan would interject something which tended to impede matters. He cited as an example that India had thought the Indus Waters matter had been settled in principle but that only yesterday he had heard that Pakistan had demanded that there be no time limit on the completion of construction of replacement facilities. This had been surprising to the Government of India, since it had understood that the ten year period, with a possible three year extension under certain conditions, had been agreed to. Again, President Ayub had recently stated that Pakistan could not recognize any agreement between India and China on the Ladakh border since Ladakh was part of Kashmir to which Pakistan had a claim. Mr. Nehru said that, in spite of things of this kind, he hoped that progress would be made toward the improvement of Indo-Pak relations; that if the Indus Waters question were settled satisfactorily, this would be a big step.

The President mentioned the fact that while the analogy might not be a completely accurate one, the United States and Canada had lived for many years with 3,000 miles of unguarded border. This did not mean that problems had not arisen from time to time, some of which had lasted for a considerable period, but that no other settlement had ever been envisaged than through negotiation.

He referred to our aid program for Pakistan and mentioned our concern that such aid had met with an unfavorable reaction in New Delhi. Mr. Nehru indicated that this was a matter of the past, but said that one point of concern in the difficulties between India and China was an apprehension of “a stab in the back” by Pakistan while India was reacting to the Chinese threat. The President referred to the conditions inherent in our mutual security programs for all countries and emphatically stated that he could assure Mr. Nehru that as long as he was in office, and he was sure that this would also apply to his successor, the U.S. would never permit Pakistan to employ military equipment received from the U.S. for aggressive purposes against India. The President added that Pakistan and other countries receiving aid were dependent on the U.S. for ammunition and could not in any event carry on aggressive action for more than a week without U.S. [Page 524] support, which obviously would not be forthcoming. The President also referred to the convincing assurances given by President Ayub that the last thing his government would wish would be to attack India in light of the fact that the real danger to both countries came from the Sino-Soviet bloc. The President said that Ayub had impressed him as progressive, forward-looking ad deeply concerned with the welfare of his people.

The conversation was continued at the home of the Prime Minister before lunch in very general terms. In the course of this he gave his appraisal of developments in the Soviet Union and Communist China. He feels that the USSR has passed beyond the revolutionary stage (the Stalinist era) and is following what seems to him the historic pattern of revolutions, i.e., a slow relaxation of controls with growing pressure for a higher living standard and a consequent increasing desire for peace to enable progress to continue.

The President remarked that Mr. Khrushchev had told him that people who now could not go along with Communist Government policies were no longer sent to Siberia but were either retired or given other government jobs. Marshal Zhukov, for example, had retired and spent his time writing and fishing, and Molotov had been made Ambassador to Mongolia.3

  1. Source: Department of State, Conference Files: Lot 64 D 560. Secret; Limit Distribution. Drafted by Bunker and Goodpaster. The source text indicates that the conversation took place at Rashtrapati Bhavan and at Prime Minister Nehru’s residence. Bunker handed Eisenhower a briefing memorandum for his conversation with Nehru upon the President’s arrival in New Delhi. Bunker forwarded a copy of the memorandum to Bartlett under cover of a brief letter dated December 15. (Ibid., SOA Files: Lot 63 D 110, India—1960)
  2. See Documents 375377 and 151.
  3. Murto 24 from Athens, December 15, marked “Paris eyes only for Secretary” and “New Delhi eyes only for Ambassador,” transmitted Bunker’s notes of this conversation between Eisenhower and Nehru. (Department of State, Central Files, 690D.91/12–1559)