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

1891. Eyes Only President, Secretary and SecDef. Verbatim Text.

Following is text of message dated today from Prime Minister to President, to be delivered by B.K. Nehru. Copy handed me this evening by M.J. Desai.

Begin Text.

[The letter conveyed in telegram 1891 was the first of two letters sent by Nehru to Kennedy on November 19. The second was delivered to the White House by the Indian Ambassador on the evening of November 19. The text of that letter was transmitted to the Embassy in New Delhi in telegram 2167, November 19. These letters have not been declassified by the Indian Government. In his biography of Nehru, Gopal summarized these two letters as follows:

[”Nehru, apparently without consulting any of his Cabinet colleagues or officials, apart from the Foreign Secretary, M.J. Desai, wrote two letters to Kennedy describing the situation as 'really desperate' and requesting the immediate despatch of a minimum of twelve squadrons of supersonic all-weather fighters and the setting up of radar communications. American personnel would have to man these fighters and installations and protect Indian cities from air attacks by the Chinese till India personnel had been trained. If possible, the United States should also send planes flown by American personnel to assist the Indian Air Force in any battles with the Chinese in Indian air space; but aerial action by Indian elsewhere would be the responsibility of the Indian Air Force. Nehru also asked for two B-47 bomber squadrons to enable India to strike at Chinese bases and air fields, but to learn to fly these planes Indian pilots and technicians would be sent immediately for training in the United States. All such assistance and equipment would be utilized solely against the Chinese.” (Gopal, Jawaharlal Nehru, Vol. 3, pp. 228-229)]

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 691.93/11-1962. Secret; Niact. Received in the Department of State at 4:47 p.m. and relayed to the White House at 5:30 p.m.