278. Memorandum From the Acting Secretary of State to the President1


  • Proposed Visit of King Mahendra Bir Bikram Shah Deva of Nepal

Recent developments in the relations of Nepal [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] are causing the Department of State serious concern. [3 lines of source text not declassified]

[Page 589]

On a state visit to the Soviet Union in June, 1958, King Mahendra agreed, in principle, to accept Soviet economic aid. The Soviet Union is now employing strong pressure on Nepal to sign a firm agreement providing for Soviet assistance including technicians.

King Mahendra will be the one person in Nepal who will determine the extent to which Nepal yields to this Soviet pressure. An invitation to him at this time to visit the United States in 1959 or 1960 would strengthen his personal inclination toward the West and stiffen his resistance to Soviet aid. He has indicated on numerous occasions that he would like to visit this country.

We also wish to encourage efforts by the King, who is the principal unifying force in Nepal, to create a modern, democratic nation. These efforts include the proclamation of a constitution in February, under which Nepal is currently holding its first democratic elections for a Parliament.

I respectfully recommend, therefore, that, if your schedule permits, an invitation be extended to King Mahendra and Queen Ratna Rajya Lakshmi Devi to visit the United States in the autumn of 1959 or early spring of 1960. Even if the schedule should not permit a visit until 1960, it is most desirable that the invitation be extended to him as soon as possible.

It is suggested that the King be invited to spend three days here in Washington at the President’s Guest House, and seven days visiting New York, Detroit, Fort Benning, and the Tennessee Valley Authority. I believe that you need only be involved personally to the extent of serving as host at a state dinner, and being guest of honor at a dinner given by the King.

I also recommend that you request the Secretary of Defense to furnish suitable aircraft for the transportation of the King and his party within the United States on a non-reimbursable basis, as being in the national interest.2

Christian A. Herter3
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 790C.11/3–2359. Confidential. Drafted by Benjamin A. Fleck and Herbert G. Wing of SOA. Concurred in by Chief of Protocol Wiley T. Buchanan, Deputy Under Secretaries Robert Murphy and Loy Henderson, Director of Intelligence and Research Hugh Cumming, and Assistant Secretary of State for Administration Walter K. Scott. In a March 10 memorandum to Acting Secretary Herter, Assistant Secretary Rountree recommended that the King of Nepal be invited to the United States due to the serious situation created by “the growing success of the Soviet Union in its overtures to the Royal Government of Nepal.” (Ibid., 790C.11/3–1059)
  2. In an April 6 memorandum to John A. Calhoun, Director of the Executive Secretariat, Acting Chief of Protocol Robert F. Corrigan noted that the President approved the proposed visit of King Mahendra so long as it did not take place before the fall. The memorandum is attached to the source text.

    In telegram 2416 to New Delhi, April 9, the Department of State authorized Ambassador Bunker to inform King Mahendra that the President invited him to the United States for a State visit during the autumn of 1959 or early spring of 1960 at a time to be mutually agreed upon. (Ibid., 790C.11/4–959)

  3. Printed from a copy that bears this stamped signature.