218. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in India 0

2583. President wishes you deliver promptly following letter from him to Prime Minister Nehru:

“Dear Mr. Prime Minister:

Averell Harriman has told me of his good talks with you and your associates. I am grateful to you for the cordiality with which you received him and for sharing with him so completely your thoughts on the problems facing India and the subcontinent. Governor Harriman was particularly struck by the vigor and resolution of your country’s response to the long-term Chinese Communist threat. He told me of the courage your people are showing under your leadership and of the high morale of the Indian armed forces.

We are now actively considering what we can do to meet your requirements for military equipment and supplies. We are, of course, consulting with the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth, and I plan to review these matters with Prime Minister Macmillan when I see him in the Bahamas. Our object is to arrive at a general plan for handling your needs quickly from the best source of supply. Our people will soon be in touch with yours on this subject.

I want you to know how pleased I am by the statement you and President Ayub issued concerning your intentions to move forward at an early date towards a solution of the difficult Kashmir problem. We appreciate how difficult it is for you at this moment, when the memory of the recent Chinese attack combines with the prospect of a further one, to turn your attention to the old and troublesome problem of Kashmir. Yet an effective defense against the Chinese threat to India depends on your ability to concentrate your full resources on meeting their aggression. Further, since the threat extends to the whole subcontinent, ultimately the efforts of the whole subcontinent will be necessary to meet it. A full commitment of your own resources and unity of effort against the Chinese can be reached if the issues which divide India and Pakistan, the most important of which is Kashmir, are settled.

I think I understand the depth and strength of feeling in both India and Pakistan about Kashmir. A solution will not be easy and the necessary concessions by each will be unpopular with many on both sides. I am confident, however, that with good will and determination one can [Page 423] be reached which will free the energies of the subcontinent for defense against aggression from the north. As you move down the road, you know you carry with you my understanding, sympathy and friendship.1

Sincerely, John F. Kennedy

In accordance with usual practice, this letter is not for publication.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 690D.91/12-662. Secret; Priority; Limit Distribution; Verbatim Text. Drafted by Cameron; cleared with BNA and by Harriman, Rusk, and Bromley Smith; and approved by Talbot. Repeated to Karachi and London.
  2. Galbraith delivered Kennedy’s letter to Nehru on December 9. After reading the letter, Nehru considered the difficulties standing in the way of a solution to the Kashmir dispute. To give up the valley to Pakistan, or to countenance its internationalization, posed political and strategic problems for India which, he felt, rendered such solutions impossible. Galbraith saw little prospect for negotiations to settle the dispute. (Telegram 2305 from New Delhi, December 10; ibid., 690D.91/12-1062)