181. Memorandum From the President’s Deputy Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kaysen) to President Kennedy0

Mr. President:

Here is some background for you before seeing Ambassador Nehru.

The Indians are in retreat along a wide area of their border in both the Northwest and the Northeast. The Chinese have occupied some inhabited places. They are now beyond the territory they had previously claimed.
The Chinese offer of a cease-fire and mutual retreat of 20 kilometers from the present line of battle was rejected by the Indians.
Pravda characterized the offer as reasonable and urged the Indians to accept it. This and intelligence that Soviets told Nehru they couldn’t intercede for him suggest that Soviets have decided to remain at least tacitly on Chinese side.
We are now prepared to do the following things if you approve.
Help the Indians with arms and equipment on a military assist-ance basis if they ask for it. Up to now, as you know, they [we?] have been dealing with them on a cash sale basis.
Make a public statement through Galbraith that we recognize the McMahon line1 as the traditional border between India and China2 (this is the Northeast border).
Approach Ayub with the suggestion that he recognize the danger and make some significant gesture; for example, breaking off in a public way his own negotiations with the Chinese about the border.
  1. Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Countries Series, India, General, 10/26/62-10/27/62. Secret.
  2. The McMahon Line between India and Tibet was negotiated in March 1914 by Sir Arthur McMahon, Secretary to the Government of India, and confirmed in Article 9 of the Simla Convention, initialed July 3, 1914, by representatives of the United Kingdom, China, and Tibet. The Simla Convention was not subsequently signed or ratified by China.
  3. In telegram 1663, October 26, Galbraith was authorized to state that the United States recognized the McMahon Line as the traditional and generally accepted international border and fully supported India’s position in that regard. (Department of State, Central Files, 691.93/10-2562)
  4. Printed from a copy that bears these typed initials.