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

1783. Eyes Only for the Secretary. Reference: Department telegram 2081.1 On receipt of reference telegram 4:00 this afternoon I sought appointment with Prime Minister and got to him at 8:00 for an hour. I used every resource at my command for acceptance of proposal but so far as I can presently tell without success. It wasn’t a bad card but it was too late. In might-have-been department, last week might have worked. Nehru was still very angry over Portuguese refusal to accept part of U Thant letter specifying UN resolutions.2 I argued this not known to the world and at this moment Salazar’s response looked better than his. The six months also set him back a bit. He said that once the pressure was off Portuguese would sit still as before. I provisionally modified the six-month period to sufficient period to give time to put the arm on the Portuguese but without effect. He also asked what success we had had in budging Portuguese so far. Both question of what Portuguese would do in six months and effect of our approach so far exceedingly tough to handle. Then we got to the gut issue which is he believes they have gone beyond point of no return in public involvement. This reinforced by assertion that volunteers are about to move in, internal disorder is imminent along with accounts of Portuguese firing this morning. I repeated my argument that none of this had yet involved serious bloodshed and I referred finally to effect on American public opinion and mentioned West New Guinea and again Congo. I asked if I should report there was no chance, then fuzzed my question to keep issue open. He virtually told me there was none. I said our offer stood and asked him to call.

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I would now guess they are going to move and my estimate in fact is for tomorrow morning. This confirmed by a heavy propaganda briefing by MEA this afternoon, a report this morning that a police official of Diu had asked for a peaceful takeover and departure of Gen Kaul without cancelling a Monday dinner in my honor. Vice President who is much opposed to action also reported to have said it is imminent. However I don’t entirely exclude the thought that they are keeping up a very high level of tension on the theory that this is the only thing that really gets results. Sorry not to have better news. If they move I will wire suggestions on Washington reaction for which I urge close attention.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 753D.00/12-1761. Secret; Niact. Repeated to Lisbon, USUN, and London.
  2. Telegram 2081 to New Delhi, December 16, reported on a meeting that day among Acting Secretary Ball, Under Secretary McGhee, and Ambassador Nehru. Ball and McGhee warned that an Indian invasion of Goa would trigger a reaction in the United States that would force the Kennedy administration to oppose the Indian action in the United Nations and make it difficult to maintain Congressional support for assistance to India. Ball suggested that if Prime Minister Nehru would announce a suspension of action for 6 months, the United States would be willing to undertake a serious effort to help bring about a peaceful solution to the problem. (Ibid., 753D.00/12-1661) A memorandum of this conversation is ibid., Secretary’s Memoranda of Conversation: Lot 65 D 330.
  3. On December 14, Acting U.N. Secretary-General U Thant addressed identical letters to Indian Prime Minister Nehru and Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Salazar. He urged them to “ensure that the situation does not deteriorate to the extent that it might constitute a threat to peace and security,” and to enter into negotiations to seek a solution to the problem. (Public Papers of the Secretaries-General of the United Nations, Vol. VI: U Thant, 1961-1964, p. 74)