12. Telegram From the Embassy in India to the Department of State0

2157. Eyes Only the President and Secretary State. From Harriman.1 I had two hours and one half with Nehru during our second meeting on March 23.2 [Page 31]After discussing policies of new administration, he said he had developed confidence and respect for President even before the inauguration and admired greatly the statements and actions taken since. I explained our opposition to admission of Red China to UN and determination to honor commitments to Formosa. He replied that he understood the background of position on Red China. He said he is greatly disturbed by Peking’s aggressive attitude and believes the danger to world comes from Peking rather than Moscow. He thinks Khrushchev is having considerable difficulty with Peking as shown by the acrimonious exchange in November at Moscow. Sooner or later, he believes, the historic conflict between China and Russia will weaken the present alliance but not for some years; the Soviets must be worried about the aggressive policies of Peking. He agreed that disarmament or arms limitation was the most important subject for discussion with Moscow but that any agreement reached would need concurrence of Peking. He is convinced Khrushchev does not want war and would be ready to ease tensions if it were not for Peking. He recalled the Mohammedan crusades of the past. Today same words which led to “conversion by the sword” are spoken by Moslems but aggressive intentions are gone. Soviets, similarly, speak vigorously but their fire for converting others to Communism by force has lost much of its intensity. In reply, I pointed out that Berlin and other specific situations showed continued Soviet aggressive intentions and that they were practicing brinkmanship and would exploit any free world weakness.

Nehru said the Chinese Communists were at height of their aggressive intentions and the situation is dangerous. He had tried to negotiate with Chou En-lai on the boundary question but had gotten nowhere. When I mentioned to him Ayub’s statement that he would negotiate with Peking settlement on the undefined boundary in the Hunza area, Nehru said China has settled with Burma and might with Pakistan to show “unreasonableness of India.”

He spoke at some length on Indian-Pakistan relations saying that Kashmir provided the basic division. He blamed Pakistani politicians for continuing to whip up the issue, stating he is prepared to settle on the boundaries as they now are.

We discussed Iran. He said it unfortunate US had backed unpopular governments and that aid had not in some cases gone to help the people; nevertheless, Shah seems to be the only one who could give stability at this time.

[Page 32]

On Congo he said all trouble comes from Belgian interference. He admitted Soviets had also tried intervene last summer but they had been thrown out; Nasser’s attempts to supply Gizenga had not been successful because of Sudan’s attitude. In discussing Dayal, he said he hoped Dayal could return and be sent to Pakistan but he did not want to have him forced out under fire. I, of course, expressed appreciation for India’s support of UN by supply of troops.

In speaking of Laos, Nehru said that no government could be successful without inclusion of the Pathet Lao. He contends that majority of Pathet Lao are not Communists but if opposition to them is continued they will be driven closer to Communists. He maintained that the only authority for intervention is the Geneva Agreement. It is up to Soviet Union and UK to decide whether the ICC is to be convened or something else. He did not seem to be familiar with the NNC concept and stuck to legalistic position that Soviet Union and UK as co-chairmen should take the lead.3

We discussed possibility of his visiting Washington. He said that it would be inconvenient for him to contemplate a trip in near future but that he did want to see the President at a time when it would be mutually agreeable. This, he agreed, I should tell the press.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 791.13/3-2461. Secret; Priority.
  2. Harriman visited New Delhi March 22-24.
  3. Harriman’s initial meeting with Nehru took place on March 22. Discussion was limited to the meeting that Nehru was scheduled to have that day with Laotian Prime Minister Souvanna Phouma. (Telegram 2114 from New Delhi, March 22; Department of State, Central Files, 751J.00/3-2261)
  4. Harriman saw Nehru again on March 24 to deliver a letter from Kennedy, which was transmitted to New Delhi on March 23 in telegram 2616. Kennedy expressed concern in the letter about the dangerous situation in Laos, and he encouraged Nehru to take any diplomatic steps that might help stop the fighting between Pathet Lao and Royal Laotian forces. (Ibid., 751J.00/3-2361) Nehru responded that he would do everything he could to assist in obtaining an armistice in Laos. (Telegram 2153 from New Delhi, March 24; ibid., 751J.00/3-2461)