341. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Pakistan0
755. Following summary of November 29 conversation between President Johnson and Foreign Minister Bhutto.1
President saw Foreign Minister Bhutto November 29. Under Secy Ball, Amb Ahmed and Talbot also present. Meeting had been arranged because Bhutto had told President on November 25 he had very important message from President Ayub and that he would stay as long as necessary to meet the President and deliver it.
At beginning of conversation Bhutto handed President written message (text being transmitted septel)2 from President Ayub expressing warm friendship and best wishes. After Bhutto had amplified message by his own comments and had heard President’s appropriate response, it became clear that he thought purpose of meeting had been served and that he did not expect to discuss substantive issues in US-Pakistan relations.
The President then referred to Bhutto’s statements that in spite of some difficulties the association between the people of Pakistan and the US was fundamentally strong and that the US still had a true friend in Pakistan. He thanked Bhutto for these sentiments, said he was indeed a friend of Pakistan and would continue to be one if Pakistan would let him. He said the American people and Congressional leaders had known Pakistan as resolutely strong against Communists. Now he understood Pakistan was going to have a state visit by the leaders of Communist China. He wanted Bhutto to know there would be a serious public relations problem here if Pakistan should build up its relations with the Communist Chinese. He was not pro-Pakistani or pro-Indian but pro-Free World. Such a state visit would make it increasingly difficult for us.
Bhutto said he appreciated this but he wanted the President to understand that Pakistan had its own public opinion. He could not describe the intensity of Pakistani feeling about India. India was bigger and stronger and Pakistan could never forget Indian antagonism.
To this the President responded that the Pakistani people knew that we would not let India attack Pakistan. President Ayub knew this. Pakistan [Page 695] had our assurances that we would live up to our commitments. We would also make sure that we would do nothing to hurt Pakistan.
Bhutto replied that Pakistan, being an ideological state itself, understood the strength of other ideological states such as the Communist ones. There were dangers but Pakistan could be trusted to handle them. US actions which contribute to the growing power of India were driving Pakistan to the wall. Ayub Khan had the strength to stand against this trend. Pakistan did not want to end its relations with the U.S. Yet everything since the Chinese attack on India had confirmed Pakistan’s views that Southeast Asia, not India, was the object of the Chinese appetite. But, the President interjected, it is you who are going to sit down to eat with the Chinese Communists.
In response to an assertion that the Chinese leaders were going to visit a number of Asian and African states, Mr. Ball said that these included such countries as Mali, Guinea, Ghana, and Somali—countries with which the Communists have been involved—and this was fine company for Pakistan to put itself in.
The President said that the strongest men in Congress in favor of Pakistan are also the strongest against the Chinese Communists. The Chinese state visit was coming just at a time when we are making strenuous efforts to keep our alliances strong and our foreign aid program going. There was great opposition to aid. These were facts of life. When the Congressional leaders learned of the state visit, their adverse reactions could be expected. Bhutto replied that he could understand this but asked that the U.S. also examine with Pakistan the difficulties American actions were causing it.
In parting, the President said again that he was a friend of Pakistan and would remain so. He asked Bhutto to give his warm regards to President Ayub.
When Talbot saw Bhutto off at the airport later same evening Bhutto showed himself deeply upset and disturbed by turn conversation had taken. He seemed to regret that he had not taken issue with the President’s statements and said he could not understand why the Chinese visit had been raised in this way. Mr. Talbot explained again corrosive effect on our relations of increasing Pakistani relations with Communist China. We have strong indications both the Chinese and the Soviets are extending area of their conflict to embrace subcontinent and we regretted seeing our ally Pakistan become an instrument of Chinese Communist ploys. President Johnson spoke from his heart and out of realities of American interests when he had reaffirmed his friendship with Pakistan, when he had said he wanted to continue this friendship, when he had made clear we would not let India attack Pakistan, and when he had expressed his deep concerns over Pakistan’s involvements with Chinese Communists. Mr. Talbot added that we indeed appreciated [Page 696] Mr. Bhutto’s strenuous efforts to come to Washington and acknowledged with gratitude the Pakistani tribute inherent in his action. On our side we were anxious to retain and strengthen this friendship. Unfortunately, when Pakistan got itself mixed up with Communist China this tied our hands domestically and also, of course, removed any leverage we might have had to influence India in direction of accommodation with Pakistan.
- Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 15-1 US/JOHNSON. Secret; Limit Distribution. Drafted by Cameron and Talbot, cleared by Ball and with the White House, and approved by Talbot. Repeated to New Delhi and London.↩
- Bhutto came to the United States for the funeral of President Kennedy who was assassinated in Dallas, Texas, on November 22.↩
- Telegram 756 to Karachi, December 2. (Ibid.)↩