216. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in the United Kingdom 0

2988. Eyes Only Ambassador Bruce. For your information, the following message from President has been sent to Prime Minister via other channels.

“Dear Prime Minister:

You will by now have heard from your mission to India and Pakistan, as I have from mine. The success of their endeavors was far beyond my expectations. Duncan Sandys’ effort in getting Nehru and Ayub to make public a statement of their desire to negotiate the Kashmir issue was a fine stroke. Having done so much, I think we must do more to follow up on our initial successes. As leader of the Commonwealth, I think you may well be in a position to provide the continuing push on Nehru and Ayub that will be required to keep the negotiations going with any prospect of a successful conclusion. I see advantages in having someone at a high level specially concerned with this task who can move freely between Delhi and Karachi in a way that your high commissioners and my ambassadors cannot, and yet is not in any formal way a mediator. I would appreciate your thoughts on the possibility of your finding a suitable person to assign to the task.

The time has come when we have to give some thought to putting our military assistance arrangements with India on a more formal basis. Our own thinking runs somewhat along the following lines. We are still in the emergency phase which the original agreement that your people and mine negotiated in London on Nov. 14 was intended to cover. While the character of emergency has changed, I think it is still desirable to build up the Indian forces to the extent possible within the next two or three months. After that, we will enter a phase of longer-run assistance where we must consider carefully the political implications of what we do. Before we embark on this program, we must get clear in our minds both a judgment of the Indian military requirements and a view of the relation between our assistance and the advance of India and Pakistan toward a settlement of the Kashmir dispute. A more exact judgment on these matters must await a detailed examination of Indian army requirements and plans which our military people brought home. As far as the first, or emergency phase, goes I have come to the conclusion that we should stand ready to offer as much as $60 million worth of assistance, [Page 420] including what we have already shipped. I hope that you and the Commonwealth countries will be prepared to operate with a similar ceiling, and that we can act so as to share the burden roughly equally between us.

A final problem to which I think we must give the closest attention is the question of Indian air defense. It is clear that the Indians are extremely fearful of the possibility of Chinese air attack on their cities. This fear has inhibited them from using their own air force in the tactical support of their armies. My military men estimate that the removal of this inhibition would contribute greatly to the Indian ability to resist a renewed Chinese attack. In view of the great expense and the long interval of the time required to provide the Indians with their own air defense capability, as well as the possible repercussions in Pakistan, it seems to me that we would do well to consider the extent to which we could agree to provide a certain amount of air defense operated by our own forces should the Indians need it. I would suggest that we undertake to provide the radar and other ground equipment necessary while you and some of the Commonwealth countries accept the commitment to send an appropriate number of fighter squadrons to India should the need arise. This is obviously a matter which will require some thought and one which we will wish to discuss when we meet.


John F. Kennedy

  1. Source: Department of State, S/S Files: Lot 66 D 204, Kennedy Correspondence with Macmillan, 1962-63. Secret. Drafted in S/S by Benjamin Weiner, cleared by Bromley Smith, and approved by Weiner.